Derren Simpson, Vice President Middle East & North Africa, Tendeka
Tendeka’s VP for the Middle East and North Africa talks about how the company has worked to establish itself in both the region, and specifically in Qatar, and discusses how his company’s technologies fit with the challenges that Qatari oil producers are currently facing.
Tell us about Tendeka’s first steps into the Middle East.
Tendeka was formed in 2009, but the technologies behind the company go back to 1998. The company was formed by merging three technology companies together, and then acquiring additional two complementing technology companies, which was completed in 2010. Tendeka was created with the vision to bring together these various other companies to provide a focused technical solution and systems provider. Tendeka already had some activities in the Middle East under the SwellFix, Sensornet and FloTech brand. Since I came on board in 2011, Tendeka has been looking to grow its Middle East business by providing these new technologies to the operators within the region.
Since that moment, we have grown with contracts – for distributed temperature sensing (DTS) multiple contract’s for swellable packers and Inflow Control devices. In addition Tendeka has several DTS installations for other operators in the region to trial the technologies in extended reach horizontal wells. These customers are utilizing Tendeka’s visualization software that is also being used by leading oilfield services companies around the world to provided 3D visualization of the downhole reservoir while the well is on production. This ultimately allows the operator to optimize the well and reservoir productivity.
In the GCC we hope to see a boom in the years to come, as the maturing oil sector here will benefit from the types of completion and monitoring technologies that Tendeka provides. Monitoring is the key component here to closing the loop as often, operators start to produce water in their wells, but don’t know which leg or part of the reservoir the water is coming from: with monitoring they can find out and change their production strategy accordingly. Even at some green field sites, companies like Zadco, Adco are seeing the benefit from monitoring and the use ICDs technology in the thinner oil rims at the early stage of production, which ultimately play into increasing recovery factors for the fields.
While countries like Saudi Arabia have been looking at technology like ICDs for a long time, Qatar, Oman and the UAE have been slower on the uptake. Today, there is a bigger push to develop new technologies in the region, thanks to the end of easy oil, and directives from within NOCs to almost double production in some countries. This will serve to change the culture towards new technology, but it will take time – perhaps up to five years before real implementation of technology is observed. This can be seen by looking at the timeline for other new technology adoption like directional drilling and or managed pressure drilling.
There are a number of reasons for the slower up take in these technologies as today it is increasing more expensive to drill and complete all new wells drilled. Thus it is imperative that the technology utilized is tested to ensure its reliability. In addition to this the operators in the region have an increasingly stringent qualification and approval process for all new equipment and technology, thus this does take a lengthy time to implement all this qualifications. As such it can take up 2-3 years to evaluate new technology in a single trial well. However, it is always worth bearing in mind here in the GCC and countries like the UAE and Qatar, once the proving of the technologies the decision to further implement the technology is done very quickly.
IOCs working in countries can certainly help push new technology adoption through with their partnership with NOCs, as typically the NOC’s have a tendency to use large integrated services contract’s which provide a challenge to small technology driven service companies. Qatar is one countries in the region that has this feature of large number of IOC operating, with NOCs being more dominant elsewhere in the region, working with the IOC in these countries makes it easier for a small technology service company like Tendeka to push through its technologies to the end user as the IOC can draw from the experience in operating fields and size to help implement technological changes to the oilfield.
How much of Tendeka’s technology is a natural fit in Qatar?
Tendeka have various technologies but where we think we add value to our customer is by providing not just single products but providing reservoir completions solutions and system. An example of these complementing technologies is the use of swellable packers and ICDs to provide compartmentalization within the reservoir. These are a very good fit for Qatar’s oil producing reservoirs, as many of these reserves are located in thin oil rim reservoirs that are either water or injected water drive, while a number of them being gas drive. Both of these types of reservoirs benefit from these new technologies like that of autonomous ICDs. When these reservoirs start losing their gas cap, and start producing gas, autonomous ICDs can shut off gas a lot more efficiently, and the operator can continue to produce the residual oil without producing excessive gas.
Other benefits Tendeka has is that our DTS and our software which allows us to close that loop of monitoring, and visualization as to what is happening with the reservoir and then doing the appropriate intervention, or at least giving us the tools to allow the operators to make the decisions about what needs to happen in time to make a difference: to do things that allow them to delay the onset of gas or water by choking back, for example, to give them the time to assess what needs to be done to maintain optimize production.
The first place that autonomous ICDs have been used extensively is in Norway with Statoil whom have seem significant increase in total production. Saudi Aramco is a company within the region who have been looking at the technology today because they see it as a potentially critical technology for their operations. After 10-12 years of passive ICDs, we hope that autonomous ICDs will soon become the norm, as companies start to see the benefits of this advancement in technology.
Another new technology that Tendeka is developing that will benefit the region in the coming years is that of Wireless ICVs. These will allow the control of valves located near the formations from the surface but without the need for either electrical or hydraulic control lines to surface. These utilize Tendeka’s priority wireless communication protocol used in the wireless gauge and the current development of downhole power generation. This technology is well development with initial field trials for the wireless ICV using existing battery technology due in the fourth quarter of 2014 in the North Sea. While the downhole power generation prototype was tested late 2013 with a full scale field test scheduled early 2015 in the North Sea. After these qualifications in the North Sea we expect to bring this new technology to the region.
What has been the key to Tendeka’s successful growth?
While might have the various technology products, our focus is to provide a overall solution, not just a product. In addition, we are very selective about where we use our systems and products, for example, with a number of customers we went through various different selection process before settling on the right candidate for our ICD technology. You can’t assume that a product will be a silver bullet for every well as such we have to ensure that it is fit for purpose. We are happy to walk away from projects where we feel our technology will not provide the optimum benefit to our customer as true value is only realized when the technology is applied correctly and if the technology is used in the wrong application can ultimately be detrimentally to the technology as a whole.
Running the business through a rep in Qatar, how are you making sure that you are having the right conversations?
Running a business through a representative in any part of the world brings challenges, but it also has its benefits, primarily the fact that as a company, you can promote your products and services in a new market without having to establish a legal entity in every market in the world in the early stages of a business, along with warehousing and workshops in each country. Having a representative in place with established infrastructure makes working in a new market easy. However, once a business grows in a new market, then it is fair to say that there almost always reaches a point where the company outgrows its representative.
My role in Qatar today, and other Middle East markets where we work through reps, is to manage our agents and our technology. This can present its own challenges – if your representative is not performing well or is not giving you the support you require to move the business forward, how do you fix the situation without adversely affecting your business relationship with existing customers. Representatives have a lot of power in these cases – sometimes you have to live with an agent that is not good, but the cost of changing them would be too high to your current and future business.
In Qatar, Tendeka is extremely happy with its representative Petrotech, whose employees have a high level of experience working in both the oilfield service sector and the Qatari market. Petrotech stands out, as they are proactive, facilitating a lot of meetings for us and allowing us to talk to the right people and thus have the correct audience for our solutions is critical to any growth Tendeka envisages.