– Gilles Denby, Asia Regional President – Malaysia
Gilles Denby, Asia Regional President at EMGS, discusses how electromagnetic technology works hand-in-hand with seismic technology and how EMGS is transforming to become a game changer in the exploration sector.
Given your notable experience around the world with Schlumberger Information Solutions, why did you decide to take the challenge of EMGS in Asia Pacific?
EMGS is a niche technology provider offering a relatively new technology that was in transition from 2D to a 3D acquisition technology. The company was also trying to reestablish confidence in the marketplace in Asia when I joined in 2011. Moving from a large service technology company to a relatively small one has been very gratifying, one, where individual contribution can have a significant measurable impact. In the future, I hope to help ensure EMGS’ technology become part of the standard portfolio of measurement techniques used by clients when evaluating potential prospects or fields.
What was the principal niche in the market that EMGS’ proprietary marine electromagnetic (EM) technology was developed to cover, and what are the specific benefits this technology brings to the client?
The ability to remotely measure subsurface resistivity using EM technology as an indicator of potential hydrocarbons within a trap. To use EM technology in collaboration with seismic data; where seismic data indicates where you have a trap for potential hydrocarbons, the EM data can indicate if the trap is potentially charged.
Over the course of your global career you have extensive experience in customers facing, in sales, sales management, marketing, and operations. In such a conservative industry, what extent can you catch customer’s eyes with EM technology in Asia?
We are in a conservative industry and it takes time to get a new product out in the market because of the great risks oil and gas companies face in implementing new technologies. PETRONAS was an early adopter and one of the first companies to use our EM technology in 2005. This was a major step forward in the acceptance and use of the technology in Asia. We have made great strides since then in the acquisition and application of the technology and I’ve found that a convincing story in the right location can make a difference with skeptical customers.
In 2013, EMGS secured a contract worth USD 50 million in Brunei that was one of the first major regional exploration 3D EM survey. Given these developments what is the importance of the APAC region and Malaysia particularly to EMGS globally?
Malaysia and the APAC region are of significant importance to EMGS because of the large number of both shallow-water and deep-water surveys we have completed locally. The application of our technology is high in Malaysia in particular thanks to projects successes offshore Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak.
Is multi-client or contract work your principle source of revenue in the Asia-Pacific region?
We currently undertake predominately contract work, but we would like to expand our multi-client offering to ensure more flexibility in our operations. While the current commercial terms in the region limits the viability of multi-client projects for non-seismic surveys, interesting recent changes in India are making multi-client projects much more attractive.
The APAC market includes a plethora of NOCs. How is dealing with them different from dealing with IOC clients, and do you target both equally in the region?
Regardless of whether you work for NOCs or IOCs, rapid investment decisions can be made quickly. IOCs tend to be technology early adopters and typically have a fairly clear decision framework enabling them to react in a timely manner. For NOCs there is a stronger emphasis on building trust, confidence and in establishing strong relationships.
In APAC, we focus on both NOCs and IOCs, however the NOCs are critical to out long-term presence in the region. This year we were awarded a major contracts with a new NOC client for us for surveys in Thailand and Myanmar. Myanmar is of particular interest to EMGS now, as this area holds a great deal of potential because of the lack of subsurface information. Once new block licenses are signed in 2015 we anticipate significant activity in Myanmar for the next five years. We are also increasingly optimistic about the improved potential in India and Indonesia because of the changes in government that will hopefully attract new players and investment.
Recently EMGS made use of the new Shelf Xpress Acquisition system for a Brunei survey and you are also working on a new generation of inversion software with an industry partner. What other technological innovations are driving EMGS forward?
ShelfXpress generates a much higher electrical current enabling us to assign more energy to more frequencies thereby improving our ability to image deeper and more clearly. We are continuing to improve our acquisition systems and processing software to be able to smaller hydrocarbon prospects at greater depth, thereby creating more value for our customers.
“Green consciousness” is a growing concern amongst the exploration community. How does your technology reduce the environmental impact of exploration efforts?
We are fortunate that our technology and acquisition is has been studied by independent scientists in Norway who have confirmed it is environmentally benign and does not affect the marine life.
How far are you from stated ambition of integrating EM methods into exploration workflows, particularly here in Asia-Pacific?
Presently, all E&P companies use seismic data, and our challenge at EMGS is to demonstrate that using our technology in addition to seismic will measurably reduce their exploration risk. A recent report published by Bernstein and Associates estimates that by integrating both technologies has reduced exploration risk in the Barents Sea from 20% to a probability of success of between 50-70% . This ability to effectively integrate our technology and seismic together is crucial to our success. To this end EMGS has recently been hiring employees who have worked with IOCs to work along with clients to better interpret and understand the data.
As an innovative exploration company, how do your employees differentiate themselves from other exploration service companies?
EMGS has a strong Scandinavian attitude towards its staff and is a very socially conscious organization. Who we are and the innovative nature of our technology, we have been fortunate to find a lot of local talent to suit the needs of our clients within Malaysia and Asia. This has enabled us to build a very dedicated and loyal team here in Malaysia that provide a consistently high quality service to our customers.
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