NEVER A CHALLENGE

Oman 2014 | ENERGY & UTILITIES | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hilal Al Busaidy, CEO and Co-founder of Gulf Energy, on developing a wide services portfolio, working with PDO, and the potential for fracking.

Hilal Al Busaidy
BIOGRAPHY
Hilal Al Busaidy is the CEO and Co-founder of Gulf Energy. He graduated in Petroleum Engineering from Sultan Qaboos University and began his career as an International Field Engineer with Schlumberger, and spent time in the Middle East and Asia. In 2003, he co-founded Falcon Oilfield Services, followed by Gulf Energy.

How has your business developed and evolved?

I am the Co-founder and CEO of Gulf Energy, which today is a leading service provider in Oman, employing around 750 people. Prior to 2005, the contribution of local players in the services industry for oil and gas was only 3% or 4%, and today that figure is around 25%. We started in 2005 and took up this challenge, bringing strong leadership to the services sector. Oilfield services is a sophisticated sector and requires know-how, expertise, and technology in order to have the ability to compete and deliver high-end service quality to customers. This is especially the case in Oman, where the production of oil and gas is very challenging given the complex reservoir geology and environment. Our main focus remains to ensure that we are technically successful; we have learned that if you are technically successful, clients will demand your services more and commercial feasibility becomes more realistic.

How did the idea for Gulf Energy come about?

Capitalizing on the 10 years of experience that I had from working in the oil industry, it was time to think about doing something to contribute to localize some of the services in the oilfield services sector. The Ministry of Oil and Gas has made the support of local industry a priority. Hence, we leveraged this support and came up with state-of-the-art services through Gulf Energy. Today, Gulf Energy is home to many sophisticated technologies and provides its services to all operators in Oman. In line with increasing the in-country value (ICV), we have embarked on the manufacture of oilfield products and we currently manufacture different products ranging from oilfield chemicals to well completion equipment. Our company has managed to take the lead and compete with major companies and win a larger and larger market share in Oman. Recently, Gulf Energy expanded its operations to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

How did you build your reputation to compete with the oil majors?

When we started in 2005 we started as a backup contractor to Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Baker. We have managed to convince our customers with our superior performance and thanks to Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which allowed us, without a track record, to take on small contracts to demonstrate our capabilities. However, that did not last long, and we immediately proved ourselves and started winning bids and more market share, and this has positioned Gulf Energy as one of the leading service providers in Oman. The span of our services covers reservoir evaluation, cementing, stimulation, drilling and workover, and completion services.

“ We were awarded a new contract for fracking and this made our company the first indigenous fracking company in the Middle East. "

How much of your portfolio is with the largest oil companies?

PDO controls about 80% or 90% of all the oil production in Oman, so it is the oil major with the highest volume. Occidental is also a major part of that, and today there are newcomers such as Daleel Petroleum and CC Energy, to which we are currently delivering services.

What challenges are you presented with working in Oman's geography?

Clients see it as a challenge; we see it as an opportunity. The challenges in Oman are present across the country. The geology of Oman is very complicated, as you can see from the topography. Today, we produce oil at 300 meters and at 5,700 meters. There is heavy oil, as heavy as 12 API and volatile oil with an API as high as 42, and there is gas, sour gas, sweet gas, and very hard formations. All this gives us opportunities, whether it is in the north or south. The south has heavy oil; when the oil becomes less mobile, the recovery factor drops. Right now, we are involved in many aspects to improve the productivity of the oil, whether it is through steam injection, where we have technologies to allow the client to evaluate the steam, increase the quality of the steam, or operations in the steam well. PDO is also using polymer flooding in order to displace and increase the viscosity of the water so it can push more oil through. Such processes require a lot of technologies before, during, and after the polymer injections. Our company hosts many technologies and products in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and improved oil recovery (IOR).

How much of your work is with gas?

We provide many services during the drilling of gas wells and also during the post production of such wells. The services include services related to well construction, stimulation, and well completion services. The challenges in gas are different from those in oil. Because most gas is found in very tight reservoirs, such reservoirs will need to be fracked in order to produce efficiently. We were awarded a new contract for fracking and this made our company the first indigenous fracking company in the Middle East, and we are due to commence operations in 4Q2013.

What potential is there for Oman to export its technological know-how?

We already doing that, and currently have operating contracts in Yemen and Iraq. We recently opened offices in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and are in the process of bidding in those two countries.

What is your vision for the future of Gulf Energy?

The plan for Gulf Energy over the next five years is expansion. However, first of all we need to anchor our operations in the region and invest in technology. There are many niche markets here that require specialized technology to be brought into the region. We are expanding outside of the country. At the same time, we are raising our presence in Oman through technology and service quality.