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Interview

Wissam Chehabi – Regional Manager South Middle East, Welltec, UAE

Wissam Chehabi, the Regional Manager for the South Middle East at Welltec, discusses the company’s growing footprint in the region, most recently with an expansion of activities into Egypt and Iran, as well as how Welltec’s technologies are uniquely able to address the needs of their clients in the Middle East. He also discusses the company’s unending commitment to innovation, and how this will continue to drive their growth in the future.

As Regional Manager for the South Middle East, what specific geographies are you responsible for, and what have been one or two key recent developments?

“The main thing that keeps us busy here is conveyance, and the conveyance market in the UAE has been picking up over the course of the last 13 years.”

In my current role I am responsible for the UAE, Oman, Iraq, Iran and Egypt, and our operations in the latter two countries are still quite new. In Egypt, we have been expanding and trying to find operations in the country, and in Iran we began our operations approximately 1 year ago, and over the last quarter we have actually had our highest revenue recorded in Iran, so things are growing! In Egypt, we are currently focused on companies such as ENI and BP, as we have good relationships with them worldwide. They see the value of our technology and they see the value in what we do. For example, with ENI going offshore in Egypt with high-value rigs in deeper waters, Welltec has been requested to supply majority of tool fleet in testament to ability to save time and cost for the client

Currently within the UAE what does Welltec’s footprint look like, and who are some of your key clients?

In the UAE we operate with Zadco, ADMA, ADCO, Al Hosn, essentially on a day to day basis we are operating with all of the companies of the ADNOC group. We also operate jointly with companies such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Al Mansoori, because our technology supports them in being able to conduct their own operations.

Welltec offers a wide variety of technologies to its clients, from conveyance solutions to diagnostics and many others. Which segments are currently keeping you the busiest here in the UAE?

The main thing that keeps us busy here is conveyance, and the conveyance market in the UAE has been picking up over the course of the last 13 years. Even though there are still some mindsets that need to be changed from looking at coil tubing as the main mode of horizontal conveyance instead to tractor, the norm right now is becoming to use the tractor for anything cased hole. An exciting example of our operations in terms of tractor conveyance is that we have just recently completed a world record in the UAE with ZADCO! They are drilling their most extended reach wells for extended oil recovery (EOR), in which we have achieved a 100% accessibility reaching depths that cannot be tackled by Coiled Tubing of 18 K FT at 90 Degrees

We have also helped ADMA with one of their key issues, which is that they drill multi-lateral wells, meaning drilling two horizontals within the same reservoir. How they go back down to access those laterals with coil is technology that they do not have, neither production logging technologies for gathering data nor for asset stimulation. ADMA had been trying to do this for quite some time, and they were even considering changing the way they drill their wells. However, we then came in with our own very unique technology, which was developed together with Saudi Aramco, which is called a multi-lateral intervention tool called the WELLLIT™. We used this and fixed their problem, and just last year it was presented by ADMA at ADIPEC. This was the first time ever that they were able to access a lateral, and they did so using our technology!

As Welltec operates in more than 45 countries around the world, how important of a role does this region play within that broader portfolio?

On a support level globally, the Middle East is quite a strong player, on a quarterly basis representing roughly 10-15 percent of the global revenue. When we were having the oil crisis worldwide, the UAE strategy for growth was different. The country was actually picking up in terms of activity, we were seeing massive amounts of growth, and that helped support Welltec, a high amount of support was required for UAE activity

Additionally, Saudi Arabia plays a huge role for Welltec as they support the development of new technologies. For example, we spent 3-4 years with Saudi Aramco doing nothing but investing into developing a relationship with them, helping them to know our technologies and know who we are. Due to these efforts, now we are developing significant amounts of revenue from them, and they are a huge supporter of our technology.

Welltec maintains regional hubs both here in the UAE as well as in Saudi Arabia. What was the rationale behind choosing the UAE as base to support the company’s regional operations?

We do have an operations base in Saudi, that helps to support the entire region, but the initial hub for the company was in the UAE. The reasoning behind this was ease of access in terms of logistics, the excellent infrastructure, as well as people availability, everyone wants to live in the UAE, and this helps you to be able to find the right candidates and bring them in.

Globally, nearly 40 percent of wells are experience some type of integrity issue. Here in the Middle East, what are some of the main issues facing your clients, and how are your services and technologies best adapted to address these challenges?

The types of issues here are largely focused around cementing, specifically when drilling longer, horizontal wells. These types of wells tend to have a lot of losses going out into the formations, and they tend to get a lot of communication going through the cement, both of which create a lot of surface annular pressures.

The way that we solve these issues is in the construction of the well with a technology that we call a Welltec Annular Barrier (WAB), which is an expandable metal packer that is mounted on the outside of the casing, giving you an annular seal without the requirement of cement, or, to compliment cement. This technology eliminates those sort of well integrity issues completely. We have run 6 of these with Saudi Aramco, and they have just recently made an order for 8 more, a huge success, as they see the value in running these WABs. We have also run them for Maersk in Qatar as well as BP in Oman, so clearly the potential of this technology is huge in terms of solving these well integrity issues. The overall value of these WABs is huge.

Given current cost pressures in the industry, many people are looking for more immediate savings rather than long-term. How do you navigate this when working to promote the technologies of Welltec?

That point in itself is the primary issue with the oil industry in the region, the short-term mindset of the majority of people that you speak to. There is a disconnect across many organizations, where everyone is only after their own short-sighted savings, and overall, these short-term savings cost more over time. What we do is present a solution that is being utilized all over the region, solving a variety of problems, and when you deal with companies such as BPs and Maersk, they are able to accept technologies much faster than some of the NOCs in the region. The discussions here with NOCs tend to drag on, and sometimes people are very hesitant to change.

That being said, we have seen improvement, specifically with ZADCO, as they have been implementers of new technology, and look to continue to do so slightly more than the other operating companies (OPCOs). For example, they have installed our Welltec Sliding Sleeves, which can be installed to compartmentalize your reservoir, so you can open and close these sliding sleeves into multiple choke positions, allowing you to produce within your reservoir. As of today they have installed 32 of these in 1 well, and have made an order for 270 more of them.

Being the Saudi Aramco is a key customer of many of your technologies, have you been able to leverage this in other markets in the region?

Absolutely. When you go to present a technology or product, and are able to say that we have used this with Saudi Aramco, obviously the conversation goes a lot further, they agree to try the technology and straight away it will solve their issues. This is true in the case of our Annular Barriers. Right now we are gaining traction in terms of its implementation, because Saudi Aramco has made such a huge order for it, this makes clear to others the benefits of the technology.

Can you expand on some of the recent work you have done or deals you have reached that you are particularly proud of, that you think really highlight the best that Welltec has to offer?

Many of the issues that are now faced offshore with many wells, especially with ZADCO, are with extended reach wells, and we have been able to tackle the challenges and succeed with them with 100 percent success. Being able to solve this issue, and having this level of success, puts us in a very good position in this region, especially considering that ZADCO is going to extremes in terms of how far they are drilling their wells and the types of completions that they are drilling.

Additionally, companies like ADMA are drilling multilateral wells with completions that have sliding sleeves in them. For those completions you need technologies such as Strokers and keys, to be able to shift those sliding sleeves if you do not want to do it on coil tubing, which costs a huge amount of money and a long amount of time to complete. We are the only ones who are able to provide this technology, and we are able to do so because we continue to innovate and we continue to advance. Welltec puts high value on making sure we put part of our budget towards innovation, we cannot stall on this front. This is what keeps us ahead of the game. When people have an issue, their solution is to call Welltec.

Looking to the rest of 2017, what is one key objective that you have for Welltec’s operations here in the UAE?

Our goal is to be much more involved in the mechanical aspect of things, and to be the number one provider for ZADCO and ADMA with the types of wells that they are drilling. Our goal is for them to not even think of using coil tubing, we want their only thought to be to use our technologies to solve the issues that they have in their wells.

On a more personal note, what keeps you motivated each day?

Achievement! It is very motivating to have the name of Welltec behind you. The reputation that Welltec has worldwide is extremely impressive, we stand higher than our competition and we stand more firm than our competition in terms of the technology that we can provide, and we are seen as innovators. That reputation keeps me motivated.

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