Offshore Achievement Awards once again recognise the industry’s best and brightest – Complete report

The offshore energy industry’s highest achievers and most successful companies were recognised last night {Thursday, 12 March} at the 2015 Offshore Achievement Awards (OAA), with Gordon Ballard, chairman of Schlumberger UK, receiving the Significant Achievement accolade.

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Great Large Company and Great Small Company were awarded to Proserv and Merlin ERD respectively, whilst Maersk Oil picked up two awards including the Outstanding Graduate Programme, a new category for 2015.

It was also a successful night for Murray Kerr of SengS Subsea Engineering Solutions, who not only received the Young Professional Award, but was also highly commended by the judges in the Inspiring Leader category.

The 29th awards ceremony, which saw attendance of more than 500 guests, took place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and was hosted by well-known television presenter and maths expert, Rachel Riley. The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Aberdeen Section organised the awards, with the support of principal sponsor TAQA and supporting sponsor Rigzone.

Ian Phillips, SPE Aberdeen board member and chair of the OAA organising committee, said: “The awards have yet again delivered beyond our expectations, with all of the winners demonstrating remarkable innovation, ambition and potential.

“SPE Aberdeen’s commitment to encouraging and supporting the future workforce led to the introduction of the Outstanding Graduate Programme Award this year, which saw an exceptionally high calibre of entries. It is hugely encouraging to see the efforts being made by companies large and small to develop new talent into our industry.

“Choosing a winner was extremely tough for the judges and all the finalists should be justifiably proud of themselves.”

Ross Lowdon, chairman of SPE Aberdeen, said: “During these challenging times it has become too easy to lose sight of the hard work, commitment and success of companies and individuals that continues to happen. The awards have allowed us to take some time out to acknowledge and celebrate talent in the sector and SPE Aberdeen is proud to support such an important event in the industry calendar.”

Gordon Ballard, VP Industry Affairs and Chairman at Schlumberger UK, received the Significant Achievement Award. He said: “I am very happy to receive this significant recognition. I have been a proud member of the SPE for almost 34 years and have had the wonderful privilege to work with some of the best minds and talents within our industry.

“For me, the SPE has always been about helping push technological frontiers that redefine our energy landscape. As a professional society, SPE has been outstanding in providing a framework to share experiences and knowledge, ensuring that no lesson – positive or negative – has to be learned twice.”

The 2015 Offshore Achievement Award Winners in each category are:

Emerging Technology Award (sponsored by Nexen)
Delphian Ballistics

The Innovator Award (sponsored by Maersk Oil)
Expro North Sea

Safety Innovations Award (sponsored by the Met Office)
The Survitec Group

Environmentalist Award (sponsored by TWMA)
CETCO Energy Services

Export Achievement Award (sponsored by Stork)
Alba Power

Working Together Award (sponsored by OPITO)
Maersk Oil

Outstanding Graduate Programme Award (sponsored by Robert Gordon University)
Maersk Oil

Young Professional Award (sponsored by Nalco Champion)
Murray Kerr, SengS Subsea Engineering Solutions

Inspiring Leader Award (sponsored by MOL Group)
Dr Liane Smith, Wood Group Intetech

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Murray Kerr, SengS Subsea Engineering Solutions

Great Small Company Award (sponsored by Wood Group PSN)
Merlin ERD

Great Large Company (sponsored by Offshore Europe)

Significant Achievement Award (sponsored by Aker Solutions)
Gordon Ballard, chairman, Schlumberger UK

More detail on each of the winners:

Emerging Technology Award (sponsored by Nexen)
The Emerging Technology Award recognises innovative new technology ideas developed in the UK for the offshore energy sector. The technology is expected to be at an early stage of development (up to and including the pilot installation or trial deployment stage). The judges were looking for evidence of novelty and innovation in the idea, evidence that it addresses a need within the industry, and a clear business case to take it forward.

WINNER – Delphian Ballistics for its TriStim system
Delphian’s Ballistics TriStim harnesses the physics of ballistics to offer a smarter way to perforate. By applying precision ballistics engineering to the age-old process of perforating, TriStim is able to offer significant improvements in well productivity and fracture dynamics.

Each charge is angled to meet at a pre-determined distance from the wellbore within the reservoir. As the shockwaves weaken the rock, they create a connected pathway; delivering a perforation channel with enhanced tunnel geometry.

TriStim increases fracture dynamics, reduces environmental footprint, increases productivity and maximizes the recovery of mature wells.

The Innovator Award (sponsored by Maersk Oil)
The Innovator Award recognises excellence in innovative technological solutions developed in the UK for the offshore energy sector. The judges were looking for evidence of how the technology is innovative, and contributing to the overall objective of reducing costs, increasing reliability, maximising recovery of hydrocarbon reserves and/ or improving the capture of renewable energy. In addition they also looked for a strategy for successful market penetration and further development and/or deployment.

WINNER – Expro North Sea for its CaTS system
Expro North Sea is focused on developing wireless solutions for downhole monitoring and control applications. The CaTS system provides a unique solution to wirelessly monitor the reservoir pressure and temperature in permanently abandoned wells.

Uncertainties in reservoir connectivity and compartmentalisation risk are inherent in all field appraisal and development planning. By monitoring abandoned appraisal wells, CaTS is able to observe any interference resulting from production in adjacent wells. The CaTS Advanced Reservoir Testing service has been applied globally to optimize the exploitation of reserves and enhance well safety in 20 abandoned subsea wells.

Safety Innovations Award (sponsored by the Met Office)
The Safety Innovations Award recognises excellence in innovative technology and products that have been developed in the UK and contribute to offshore safety. The judges looked for evidence of how the technology or system is innovative and in particular, how it contributes to the overall objective of improving individual, plant or operational safety in the offshore energy sector. They also looked for a clear strategy for deployment, further deployment or further development of the technology or system.

WINNER – The Survitec Group for its Mass Evacuation System and Emergency Breathing System
As part of its commitment to safety innovation, Survitec has developed an Emergency Breathing System that can be deployed one-handed in under 10 seconds. Far exceeding minimum standards, the system also incorporates a high buoyancy lifejacket. The innovation will have a positive impact on safety while remaining cost effective for the industry.

Survitec has also developed the Survitec Mass Evacuation System, which benefits personnel when forced to carry out an emergency evacuation offshore. This innovation is the only automated chute system that can be fully deployed in under a minute. It can evacuate up to 150 people at a time, 40% quicker than current standards.

Environmentalist Award (sponsored by TWMA)
The Environmentalist Award recognises an outstanding environmental technology developed for and deployed in the offshore oil and gas or renewables industry. The award recognises technology that has reduced the environmental impact of the industry, supported sustainability and created new business opportunities as a result.

WINNER – CETCO Energy Services for CrudeSep IGF and CrudeSep DGF
CETCO’s CrudeSep Compact Floatation technologies work in synergy to address issues associated with out of spec oil in water issues.

The Induced Gas Flotation system’s cyclonic motion is robust and reliable in the separation of oil, water and solids. The Dissolved Gas Flotation system is a multi-staged vessel that uses dissolved gas to remove the remaining contaminants pre discharge. These systems have reduced contaminant levels well below industry regulatory requirements, consistently achieving oil removal efficiencies of more than 90%.

These synergistic technologies reduce lift costs, assist in de-bottlenecking the topside process, whilst enabling operators to exceed their environmental ambitions.

Export Achievement Award (sponsored by Stork)
This award celebrates business growth resulting from successful development of export activity in the offshore energy sector. The judges were looking for businesses that had instigated a clear and thorough export planning process, identified key export markets, achieved a successful market entry strategy and captured market share.

WINNER – Alba Power
From bases in Aberdeen and Houston, Alba Power provides upgrade, maintenance and repair services to aero-derivative turbines. Alba Power has developed its client footprint to include Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Europe, India and Indonesia. It provides services to North and South American clients through the support and overhaul management offered by its expert engineers.

Alba Power’s American base recently expanded following additional long-term service agreements and North and South American growth. This facility will be act as a front line workshop to provide local client support. With over 140 gas turbine customers in 16 countries, Alba Power has increased overall business revenue from £9 million in 2009 to £13.3 million in 2013.

Working Together Award (sponsored by OPITO)
The Working Together Award highlights excellence in collaboration and team working between companies and organisations on an offshore oil and gas or marine renewables project. Judges looked for evidence that working together had effectively delivered project objectives.

WINNER – Maersk Oil
The Dumbarton field has been integral to Maersk Oil’s activities since 2007. In late 2013, production was suspended as the main production flowline and riser system required immediate replacement. Offshore operations commenced just 33 days after contracts were signed and were completed under budget, on schedule and incident-free.

Key to success was collaboration between the project partners. Bibby Offshore performed the flowline replacement and complete diving scope, DOF Subsea completed the riser replacement, with HelixCanyon performing protection and burial of the flow-line. With six vessels and a crew of nearly 400, success in this timeframe would not have been possible without the right safety engineering, risk assessment and risk mitigation.

Outstanding Graduate Programme Award (sponsored by Robert Gordon University)
The Outstanding Graduate Programme Award recognises innovation and excellence in a graduate programme. Judges were looking for evidence of excellence in the development, assessment and recognition of graduates in the offshore energy sector.

WINNER – Maersk Oil
The Maersk International Technology and Science programme is designed to prepare newly graduated engineers and geoscientists for technical and specialist careers.

The programme is tailored to individual roles with graduates introduced to live project work from day one. Graduates undertake three eight-month placements, two of which may take place internationally, and are expected to complete the programme within two years.

From the 2500 applications received, Maersk inducted 12 graduates to its programme in 2014. Maersk’s strategy is to train graduates to become the most highly skilled engineers and geoscientists in the industry.

Young Professional Award (sponsored by Nalco Champion)
The Young Professional Award recognises the professional capability and the wider contribution made to the offshore industry by a man or woman under the age of 35.

WINNER – Murray Kerr, SengS Subsea Engineering Solutions
Having left school at 15 with no qualifications, Murray began his career with the Royal Navy. He went on to obtain HNDs in Mechanical, Electronic, Aeronautical and Electrical Engineering as well as Business Management. He then progressed to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

After five years in the Royal Navy, Murray began working for Oceaneering as a Trainee Subsea Engineer then moved on to several other companies. In late 2011, Murray remortgaged his home in order to start his own business. Within four months, SengS achieved a net profit of £150,000. From its humble beginnings, SengS now employs 17 staff and has a turnover of £2million.

Inspiring Leader Award (sponsored by MOL Group)
The Inspiring Leader Award recognises the professional capability and the wider contribution made to the offshore oil and gas or renewables industry by a leader who has inspired their team, either in a mentorship capacity or as a manager, to deliver an outstanding result.

WINNER – Dr Liane Smith, Wood Group Intetech
Dr Liane Smith is an internationally renowned engineer, and director and founder of Wood Group Intetech. With over 30 years of industry experience, she leads a global team of specialist engineers.

Dr Smith drives her team to deliver software solutions for well integrity, asset management, corrosion studies and materials engineering. As an established industry thought-leader, she has received many accolades. The industry-wide adoption of Wood Group Intetech’s technology demonstrates Dr Smith’s ability to inspire on a worldwide level.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Murray Kerr, SengS Subsea Engineering Solutions
Murray Kerr’s inspiring leadership has enabled SengS Subsea Engineering Solutions to achieve significant growth within its first two years’ operating. Key to SengS success is Murray’s ability to drive the team to deliver projects rapidly and efficiently. As managing director, Murray provides leadership, support and drive, acknowledging the same qualities in his ambitious team. Murray’s innovative approach to problem solving enables his team to deliver significant cost savings on client projects.

Great Small Company Award (sponsored by Wood Group PSN)
For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, judges sought evidence of the company’s development to date – including successful creation and growth of the company, clear strategic direction and strong product / service differentiation.

Founded in 2007, Merlin is an expert in Extended Reach Drilling and has firmly established its credibility in the industry thanks to its reputation for drilling ‘impossible’ wells.

The company’s core services include engineering, training and rigsite implementation. Merlin’s strategy is to attract and retain exceptional staff through a combination of challenging work and shared core values. With the aim of consistently exceeding client expectations, Merlin recently won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

As a result of Merlin’s strong business initiatives, the company employs 32 people and trades globally in 34 countries. Merlin has achieved a sustained year-on year growth in turnover, exceeding £3million in 2013.

Great Large Company (sponsored by Offshore Europe)
For companies with more than 50 employees operating in the offshore energy industry, judges looked for evidence of the company’s development to date and plans for the future success and growth of the company.

WINNER – Proserv
Proserv is a global provider of energy technology services. Significant demand for its services, combined with a series of strategic acquisitions, has resulted in successful international business growth for Proserv.

Over the past three years, the company’s global workforce has grown from 800 to more than 2,200 people with turnover increasing from £97million to £264million. Proserv’s broad-ranging portfolio of products and services help enhance production, reduce costs and maximise field life. Through the delivery of bespoke engineering solutions, Proserv has revolutionised the way its clients work by providing more efficient and cost-effective ways for them to operate.

Significant Achievement Award (sponsored by Aker Solutions)
This award recognises the professional capability and the wider contribution made to the offshore industry by a man or woman over the age of 35. The judges looked for clear evidence of their vision, achievements, milestones and the esteem in which they are held among their peers and the wider industry.
WINNER – Gordon Ballard, Schlumberger
Gordon graduated from the University of Glasgow with a B.Sc. Hons in Civil Engineering and from Heriot-Watt University with an M.Eng in Petroleum Engineering.

He joined Schlumberger in 1981 as a wireline field engineer, initially working in various operational positions throughout Africa and Europe. In his time at Schlumberger, he has taken on many different roles including marketing manager for Peru, Colombia and Ecuador followed by marketing manager for Europe, Russia and the Caspian, before going on to become worldwide marketing manager for Schlumberger Wireline. He subsequently worked on the initial development of Schlumberger Business Consulting before moving in 2002 to become director of global accounts for Schlumberger in London.

He took up his current position as chairman of Schlumberger UK in September 2005 and additionally became vice president of industry affairs in October 2013.

Beyond his work at Schlumberger, he has shown his dedication to the industry as chairman of OPITO International, chairman of the UK Oil & Gas Industry Council and a board member of Oil & Gas UK and PILOT. He is also a previous co-chair of Step Change in Safety.

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