A group of 20 of the world’s most experienced deepwater wells professionals have joined forces to create what is billed as the first drilling consultancy anywhere to specialise solely in deepwater projects.
Collectively, they have clocked up more than 300 years of experience, much of it with the world’s leading international operating companies.
Founder Ian Mills has 25 years’ experience to contribute, including in senior drilling roles at Shell and BP.
The consultancy, a new division of Aberdeen-based Exceed, which Mills created some years ago, will provide a full wells project capability from conceptual design, exploration and evaluation through to full field development.
In that regard, Exceed is quite similar to other companies such as AGR, Senergy, Norwell and Transocean unit ADTI, all of which are in Aberdeen.
The crucial difference is that the Mills creation is deep/ultra-deepwater only.
“I’ve been in active dialogue with colleagues over the last 36 months, but it took us about 24 months to get to the point where we had sufficient critical mass and were willing to join together as a team … and we’ve done that now.
“Exceed was already in existence providing performance improvement services anyway, so what we then did was add the deepwater drilling consultancy.”
Mills added that he had been a consultant since 1998, including working with BP as performance management leader for the Eastern Hemisphere during 2001-05.
“In 2005, my workload exceeded my personal capacity. I had been exposed to others who were very good at the performance thing. I never set out with the vision of creating a performance improvement company, it evolved.
“It was during the course of that that we saw abundant opportunity for creating a premier-league … Manchester United v Real Madrid … consultancy for deepwater drilling management.”
Mills told Energy that the self-financed company had invested more than $200,000 (£125,000) to date in establishing the consultancy. He credited Scottish Enterprise with playing an important role in encouraging him to grasp this opportunity.
Why has it taken so long for anyone to launch a deepwater enterprise of this kind?
“I don’t know,” Mills told Energy.
“But there are plenty of opportunities. There are companies in a similar space to which we are but don’t necessarily specialise.”
When asked by Energy what had finally pushed him to set up the consultancy, Mills said he had been working in the performance improvement arena for some time.
“I come from well construction … that was my technical speciality; working (in-house) with teams to get performance improvement.
“We recognised there was a market opportunity for this sort of thing out there, working with companies from a planning point of view through project execution.
“One of the reasons why we considered deepwater to be an opportunity that needs to be exploited is the fact that the industry is working with rig rates that, in some instances, are in excess of $1million per day, and they can be working with personnel who have relatively little experience.
“The marketplace is dynamic, changing, tightly contested, and over the next five years, another 60-70 ultra-deepwater rigs will be coming to the marketplace, of which a large number will be working for Petrobras. That will require expertise.”
Mills said the company was in advanced discussions with four potential clients – two NOCs (national oil companies) and two mid-sized companies – and anticipates its first project starting in Q4 this year.
Moreover, he pointed out that the sheer level of experience available through Exceed was a powerful selling tool and that the primary market targets would be IOCs (international oil companies), NOCs and mid-rankers (basically large independents).
“Deepwater exploration and development plays an increasingly important role in meeting global energy demands,” he said.
“The players in this – NOCs, IOCs, mid-sized companies and their contractors – are faced with challenges such as the increasing complexity of wells, escalating cost of services, limited availability of deepwater rigs and the shortage of experienced and technically capable people.
“Our mission is to be the world’s premier deepwater wells specialist who explores for and develops deepwater prospects at the lowest cost possible with no damage to people or the environment.”