Expro’s vision for growth in Abu DhabiApril 11, 2023
Hussein Elsisi, Expro’s vice-president for the MENA region, talks to The Energy Year about new technologies the company is introducing to support emissions reduction and enhance operational efficiencies, as well as the inroads it has made in burner booms and fibre-optic solutions. Expro is a global provider of oilfield services and technological solutions.
What new technologies is Expro introducing to support emissions reduction?
In Expro, we are aiming to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050. ESG policies and the contribution companies make to communities and the environment are becoming crucial factors shaping oil and gas operations. Expro is advancing this strategy by adopting and adapting new technological solutions to reduce our own carbon emissions and, importantly, to support our customers on their journey to net zero.
As part of this contribution, we are moving from diesel-fuelled generators to gas- and electric-fuelled ones that can now be seen on many of the platforms in this country. These help contribute to the overall reduction of operational CO2 emissions in the industry.
Likewise, we have developed slickline packages that work with solar PV panels. This technology is called Galea, and is the world’s first fully autonomous well intervention system that maximises production while reducing intervention costs, HSE risks and environmental impact. It’s one of the technologies we are now promoting to our client in the UAE
Along similar lines, we are carrying out several flare-reduction projects in countries such as Algeria. This country not only is very rich in natural gas but also has high levels of flaring. There, we believe we have managed to reduce an estimated 120 mcf [3.5 mcm] per day of flared gas through gas compression solutions. These are systems that recover the gas, separate the liquid and compress the gas into the pipelines that go to different facilities, rather than burning it.
Flaring represents a lost economic opportunity but also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. However, we have not brought this technology into the UAE yet. Lastly, we are also looking into carbon capture and storage technology in the region, and are in discussion with our clients in Saudi Arabia.
How important will Abu Dhabi be in Expro’s regional portfolio of activities moving forwards?
We are looking to further consolidate our presence in the UAE, especially in Abu Dhabi. We have a large facility in Jebel Ali and we are moving it to Abu Dhabi. Acknowledging ADNOC’s ambitious 2027 oil production targets. We are now looking at manufacturing some of our well construction accessories in Abu Dhabi.
For example, we have a training rig in Dubai that we plan to set up in Abu Dhabi by the end of 2023 as a brand-new training centre. Our aim is to open our own training programme to external service companies, as well as operating companies. It will also contribute to the training of ADNOC’s employees. The intention is to make Abu Dhabi a training hub, both for UAE-based companies and also for the MENA region. The investment we are making in Abu Dhabi is growing 30% yearly. Given the emirate’s oil and gas importance, holding the majority of the UAE’s hydrocarbons resources, it is a major area of focus for Expro.
Thanks to our commitment to ICV [in-country value], we anticipate winning more business and contracts with ADNOC in this region. We see a lot of growth opportunities in the areas of gas processing and gas production given the ambitious aims to develop sour gas in this country and achieve gas self-sufficiency by 2030. We believe we have the necessary tools and technologies to contribute to this quest.
What in-house patented technologies are you using to enhance operational efficiencies?
We are implementing a series of state-of-the-art technologies in the MENA region. For example, we have a hydraulic pickup and lay-down machine, as well as a triple hydraulic catwalk machine that is designed to maximise speed and efficiency when running tubulars. We have another technology called iTONG, which improves the efficiency of the drilling rig when building and breaking down the tubing and casing. It is one of a suite of Expro’s digital technologies designed to advance greater rig floor automation and is estimated to reduce manpower by 25-50%, which in turn substantially decreases the risk of accidents.
Other Expro technologies include our BRUTE Storm System, which maintains wellbore isolation during remediation repairs; our HI TOOL Harmonic Isolation Tool, which reduces vibrations; our CBI Cutting Bed Impeller tool, which removes cuttings for more efficient operations; and the VERSAFLO Time Saver Series, which reduces mud contamination. By combining some of these innovative and future-facing technologies with high-quality data, we manage to enhance well productivity, efficiency and sustainability.
What inroads have you made in the areas of burner booms and fibre-optic solutions?
Expro has developed flare booms with express, integrated hoisting winches, reducing risk and improving rig operational efficiency. We deploy booms from the vertical storage position to the horizontal operational position. In 2019, we shifted this business from the US to the UAE, and now we are building them in-country.
The burner boom business is cyclical and will depend on the number of activities, and most importantly, on the timespan of rig certifications. Every five years there are various requirements for cleaning, maintaining and renewing burners from rigs, and our work is essential. A very important aspect is maintenance, which we do as an OEM, after which operators get a three- to five-year COC [certificate of compliance].
On a different note, distributed fibre-optic sensing (DFOS) is a technology that widens Expro’s well integrity capabilities and adds value to the service we offer to our customers. Through in-well fibre-optic acquisition of distributed acoustic sensing and distributed temperature sensing data, it is possible to find leak paths through outer casing strings or cement sheaths.
DFOS is deployed along the whole well and it allows one to monitor the data for temperature and acoustics. The art is in the interpretation of the data, which we do from our data centre. We have in-house software and fast data interpretation facilitates a rapid decision-making process and a timely solution to the problem.
What type of projects have you secured and what star services are you catering to the UAE market?
As for contracts, we have an important long-term contract with ADNOC Drilling which relates to onshore and offshore well construction, tubing and casing running services, harmonic isolation tools and drilling tools using vibrations, as well as torque and drag to improve the efficiency of drilling. We have won a similar well construction contract with ADNOC Onshore in early 2023. Our aim moving forwards is to capture more long-term contracts, to build on existing project work and smaller ventures we are currently involved in.
Furthermore, we have solutions when working with sour gas that are designed to reduce the exposure to H2S which includes clamp-on, non-intrusive metering technology that measures three-phase flow.
We have developed a strong reputation in the area of natural gas and are regularly called upon for our expertise and solutions on HPHT [high-pressure, high-temperature] wells by our market competitors. In addition to this, we have high fluid analysis capabilities where we invest in truly understanding the composition of the different fluids we have and where they work best. We believe we are among the top two players in fluid analysis in the oil and gas industry.
In Abu Dhabi, our speciality services are well testing and well construction – especially tubular running services. In this space, we are recognised not only in the offshore unconventional area, where many players compete, but most importantly in the offshore area, where we believe we clearly differentiate ourselves from the rest.