Register to download the report. Already a member?

Download PDF

Click Here for $250 / 6 months

Click Here for $450 / year


Oliver, Regional President,Petroleum Geo-Services, Asia Pacific MultiClient

22.07.2014 / Energyboardroom

Nathan Oliver of PGS describes the company’s operations in south east Asia. Capitalising on the largest multi-client library in the region, the company has further plans to explore under the sea bed for reserves of oil utilising its advanced fleet of ramform vessels.

Given your notable experience around the world forwarding PGS’ operations, why were you recently appointed to Asia Pacific?

The Asia Pacific market has become increasingly challenging over the last few years in the seismic exploration segment. These challenges are multiple and include, geopolitical and well documented boundary disputes, uncertain resource density, over-capacity, competitor ill discipline and the prevalence of NOCs with their divergent strategies to traditional IOCs. PGS considered my global experience gave me a number of advantages in addressing these market challenges.

What are your hopes for the business now you are here?

From a business perspective, success comes from having a clear ambition, well defined strategic focus and discipline. It is important that PGS identifies the core markets to reinforce a leading position in, and that the business develops coherent strategies to gain traction in these markets. Asia Pacific is the largest geographical region as described by PGS’ structure and it is all too easy to get drawn toward investing in many markets in the region without necessarily building up a core footprint or heartland. The focus on investing in core markets building a position together with the development and entry into frontier markets that can over time evolve to core is something I have sought since my arrival.


Singapore has no hydrocarbon deposits of its own. What does the city represent strategically for PGS?

While the E&P industry typically locates itself closer to hubs of material activity in areas where hydrocarbons are found. Singapore’s strength is its pro-business policies that yield significant commercial efficiencies and it’s centrality to the region as a major transport hub.

How do PGS’ activities in Asia Pacific benefit from the business’ experience elsewhere in the world?

PGS’ success stories in many other countries and basins globally are positive examples which can be highlighted to our customer base, be that governments or O&G companies. Specifically, countries where PGS has been highly active providing valuable E&P solutions a synergy now exists with our own business interests promoting the benefits and advantages of the host country’s offshore acreage and potential prospectivity are particularly important.

The business segment I work in, MultiClient, is a speculative investment and highly creative business environ. There are no hardwired commercial models which creates a great deal of freedom that can be tailored to provide bespoke solutions according to varying countries, companies or regulatory authorities’ needs. Looking at my own experiences, from North West Europe, to West Africa or the Gulf of Mexico there are many examples highlighting the value of PGS’ services leveraging our core technologies together with creative commercial models to deliver unique value propositions to our customer base.

The other way PGS’ international presence helps is directly, through solid customer relationships. The industry is highly geographically mobile and many personal contacts or previous customers of PGS have found their way to Asia Pacific. They know what we are capable of achieving and are eager to see our technology and skills deployed to help them overcome their E&P challenges,

You previously mentioned that NOCs are commonly encountered in this region. How is dealing with them different from dealing with IOC clients?

One of the key directions I pursued in my previous role was the NOC agenda. Prior to moving to Singapore, I had invested time seeking engagement with the Chinese NOC’s and Japanese E&P’s for over five years. The NOC’s are driven by a very different agenda to the traditional IOC’s where shareholder value creation is the key for the latter, resource security is the focus for the former. The establishment of relationships with the Asia Pacific NOC’s was driven by the variable resource density found in their own backyard. Put simply, delivering resource security has required an increasing focus on an international growth agenda which has seen expansion by the Chinese NOC’s in areas such as Brazil, for example. Given PGS’ global MultiClient portfolio coupled with my previous responsibility for high growth areas such as South America, I readily recognised this customer segment as a valuable business relation.

By 2010, PGS had established the largest data library of MultiClient data of any company in Asia Pacific. Where does this stand now?

We continue to invest, earlier this year we wrapped up the Caswell MC3D program in the Browse Basin North West Shelf using our unique GeoStreamer technology. This basin has become a core area of investment focus for us having now built of footprint of ~20,000sqkms. In Q4 this year, we plan to return to Australia and the Great Australian Bight with the Ramform Sovereign once again deploying our GeoStreamer technology to acquire another significant MC3D program called Springboard in what has become a very hot frontier exploration area following recent gazettal round acreage awards. Other areas are under scrutiny for entry and investment in the near future.

How is PGS forwarding not only its hardware design, such as that of its Ramform vessels, but also its software- including its data processing methodologies?

If one looks at the foundation of PGS, it has consistently been a technologically focussed company and innovation is core to our business. This derives not only from an engineering and hardware perspective but a software and methodology perspective. GeoStreamer for example, is a true broadband technology that PGS delivered to the market many years ahead of our competitors. What the business has been working on is truly leveraging that broadband data through improved imaging algorithms and quantitative interpretation techniques and analysis to extract the maximum value from the seismic digits delivering benefits across the E&P asset life. PGS promotes innovation throughout the seismic value chain from novel acquisition designs in the field to the imaging and analysis of the reservoir.

In terms of projects PGS is engaging with, the Abadi- Arafura- Aru MegaProject between Indonesia and Australia was one of the most significant projects for PGS recently. What was the logic of pursuing a project of this scale?

This is a very unique cross border MC2D survey we have acquired over the course of a couple of years in the Abadi and Arafura Sea of Eastern Indonesia. It covers an area from the Petrel Sub-basin, the prolific West Abadi field to Aru, Kai and Tanimbar Islands and extending to the Banda Arc Accretionary Prism. Despite the Abadi and Aru discoveries there have been a number of recent high profile dry holes drilled which has reduced interest in this area much of which remains under, or unexplored. Nevertheless we are confident this region offers significant opportunity. PGS in collaboration with SpecPartners and Horizon have created a seismic carpet on which an integrated geophysical and geological analysis has been conducted including tectonic-stratigraphic interpretation, tectonic reconstruction, well analyses, regional geochemical modeling, play fairway analysis etc. The key message is that we are working to understand the structural dynamics of the basins and their hydrocarbon prospectivity going beyond “just” the seismic digits.

This year the Ramform Atlas was delivered; two more Ramform titan vessels will be completed next year. What is PGS’ fleet acquisition strategy, and what implications does this have for activity here in Asia Pacific?

Atlas was delivered from Nagasaki and launched in January of this year and the next two Titan class vessels will be coming out of the yard next year, will be the Ramform Hyperion and the Ramform Tethys. PGS’ acquisition fleet strategy is focused upon productivity leadership, delivering superior data quality in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

These are the latest of our iconoclastic ramform design, equipped with 24 streamer reels to allow the effective, rapid and safe acquisition of high quality marine seismic data. This unique platform enables focus on large exploration scale marine seismic surveys, novel acquisition designs such as full azimuth, wide azimuth and multi-azimuth surveys, as well as reservoir monitoring 4D surveys. It is a dynamic platform which allows use from the exploration phase to the production phase of the E&P value chain.

There are good chances of seeing these vessels in action in the Asia Pacific market given the opportunity basket we are building.

In 2013, MultiClient data globally represented 45 percent of PGS’ revenue. What proportion of this was derived from Asia-Pacific and where do you see prospects for growth?

The proportion is 10%.

As previously stated PGS has a major new investment planned for Q4 of this year, which will run into April-May of 2015. With regards to further prospects in the region available in the near future. While I have already alluded to several challenges such as boundary disputes looking to opportunities, there are many new and emerging markets that we may not have envisaged two or three years ago. Historically, from a MultiClient perspective Indonesia and Australia have been our core markets, the latter being, seismically speaking, the most active market in the Asia Pacific. We believe Australia will continue in activity levels from North West Shelf to the Great Australian Bight the latter representing an enormous area. The counterpoint to this is that Indonesia continues to become a more challenging environment to invest and work in with the current Presidential elections further compounding the problem.

In India, the sleeping giant, we see positive developments following the recent election of Modhi. The incumbent is very pro-business and pro-reform and we have seen an overhauling of the MultiClient framework which may have been advanced to completion under his tenure. The West Coast of India is effectively unexplored. There are great thicknesses of basalt there which inhibits clear seismic imaging. Use of PGS’ GeoStreamer and Beam imaging technology has the potential to unlock sub-Basalt prospectivity. So, we believe India has some good growth potential, assuming political reform can improve its attractiveness, despite the recent high profile departure of some IOC’s.

Myanmar has recently held an offshore bid round offering a number of blocks many of which are sparsely covered with seismic data which offers a tremendous opportunity for the industry as a whole. While PSC’s are still in negotiation and work program requirements not fully known we envisage a very active seismic market in the 2015-2017 timeframe.

Malaysia has some similarities with the UKCS. It is a mature hydrocarbon province and is suffering declining domestic production. The domestic regulatory affiliate of PETRONAS recently referred to the Wood Review and plans to implement many of the recommendations of this report written about a basin in another hemisphere! There are other potential lessons to be learned from industry to restimulate interest in its offshore acreage and more and newer seismic information can definitely help, from new play concepts to improved production from existing assets.

And finally, I did say Asia Pacific is a vast region (!), New Zealand. An area of increasing activity with Shell, Statoil, Woodside, Anadarko all active exploring in frontier basins.

What responsibility do exploration companies have to keep the global oil and gas business moving forward with new discoveries?

New discoveries are the life-blood of exploration companies measured on key metrics such as RRR. With global demand forecast to grow they have to continue to explore and find new hydrocarbons even within the capitally constrained world we find ourselves in, it really is as simple as that. Adoption of new technologies and exploration in frontier basins will enable exploration companies to keep the global oil and gas business moving forward. PGS’ responsibility is to continue to provide leading edge solutions to help them in their quest to find new hydrocarbons.

To read more articles and interviews from Singapore, and to download EnergyBoardroom’s latest free report on the country, click here.



Most Read