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Churchill’s small company advantage

Churchill Drilling’s manager for the Middle East and Asia Nicholas Kjaer
Churchill Drilling’s manager for the Middle East and Asia Nicholas Kjaer

Nimbleness and responsiveness to client needs are seen as at the heart of Churchill Drilling Tool’s appeal to operators seeking downhole circulation support, the company’s manager for the Middle East and Asia Nicholas Kjaer has said.

“We are very flexible and can adapt very quickly,” Kjaer told Energy Voice, a point that clients appreciate. “They often come to us with challenges where they say, ‘listen, we have this issue on this particular operation, is that something you can help us with, within your niche?’”

The company has, he continued, on “numerous occasions actually designed specific equipment for our clients”.

In 2017, an operator approached Churchill with a specific problem. “Within two weeks we had an engineering design ready, within six weeks we had equipment on the ground. You can never get [that level of response] from a big-size company simply because of the bureaucracy and because a small [challenge] would not be enough to kickstart their whole R&D department.”

The manager highlighted that Churchill provided support for all aspects of its work, developing, servicing and working with the client to ensure operations go smoothly.

One demonstration of the company’s innovation was on show at the ADIPEC event: the HyPR HoleSaver. The technology allows drill teams to sever drill-strings within hours of a problem, and without using traditional methods such as explosives or chemicals. It has been used by four teams in the Middle East in the last six months, two of which were in the United Arab Emirates.

Kjaer described the system as a “pre-planned contingency”, similar to a fire extinguisher. “It’s a dormant sub that you have on the drill string that has no impact on your normal drilling. Should you not use it, great. But if you do get stuck, it will land in its intended position and within a couple of hours you would be free.”

Innovation and 24-hour support are at the heart of what Churchill offers, the manager said, which is a “combination that has taken us from step to step and allowed us to continue growing”.

Such innovation does come at a cost, Kjaer acknowledged, but while clients may initially consider this to be expensive, but “it’s going to make your operation this much more efficient, it will save you this much time. Upfront, you will be thinking I might be paying a little bit more for this but down the line you’re actually saving more than if you go with the conventional choice. A lot of our equipment saves the operator time, it makes it more safe for them to drill and the operations efficiency is increased.”

Churchill is based in Aberdeen but expanded into the US in 2012-13, with a focus on deepwater. In 2016, the company moved into the Middle East. There is an extent to which Churchill’s technology can be applied across all regions, Kjaer continued, and some of it can be very specific.

When the company came to Abu Dhabi in 2016, the sector was in the downturn and everyone was cutting costs. “For us that was an opportunity because that’s where we could really say, ‘listen, you want to save money, you want to do it faster and safer. With our offering, you can actually tick all those boxes and justify that to your management.”

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