Q&A: Churchill Drilling Tools on the greatest opportunities for growth in the oilfield services segment

Nicholas Kjaer, general manager of Churchill Drilling Tools' operations in the Middle East and Asia, answers our questions about the oilfield services market, and how the company is moving forward in the region

Nicholas Kjaer, general manager of Churchill Drilling Tools' operations in the Middle East and Asia
Churchill Drilling Tools
Nicholas Kjaer, general manager of Churchill Drilling Tools' operations in the Middle East and Asia

Where do you see the greatest opportunity in your segment of the market?

In terms of territories, we are now established as the market leaders in the UAE for downhole circulation tools.  Our success, track record and growing reputation is opening doors elsewhere in the region.  Indeed, operators in every corner of the Middle East run our tools, and such is the growing demand that we expect to establish bases in new Middle Eastern territories in the next 6-12 months.

Across our product range, the greatest opportunity we have currently is leveraging the success of our HyPR HoleSaver™ tool.  The technology is designed to enable operators to safely and quickly sever their drill-string and recover from stuck pipe, a huge issue for the industry which can add $millions to the cost of a campaign.  This year we have seen three Middle East operators successfully sever their drill-string using the tool.  With our HyPR™ technology now proven in the field, we’ve subsequently seen overwhelming demand as operators increasingly switch their stuck pipe contingency strategies. 

What are operators looking for, in terms of products and services?

Put simply, operators are looking for products that improve performance and can be relied upon.  Reflecting the core Churchill values of simplicity, reliability and durability, the quality and performance of our products is unrivalled.  Our track record proves that our technology enables operators to save time, cut costs and improve performance. 

In addition, I believe that the partnership approach we adopt with our clients is a significant factor in our success. We aim to become operators’ most valuable partner and an extension of their drilling teams.  For example, we provide a 24/7 service to our clients.  That doesn’t mean we have someone somewhere answering a phone.  We provide a commitment that a technical expert is available 24/7, not only on the phone, but also in person.  We go to our clients anytime they want our help and services. 

The quality and track record of our tools coupled with the service that our expert team offers to clients is a unique and successful combination.

How has the OFS segment shifted on a wider scale? How have your operations changed, if at all?

Our area of expertise is downhole circulation.  Our tools enable operators to harness the power of circulation and improve performance across applications such as stuck pipe, hole cleaning, displacements, lost circulation and countless others. I am in no doubt that Churchill is setting the agenda across the downhole circulation segment.  We’ve brought to market some wonderfully unique and innovative products, providing solutions for many of the most frustrating downhole challenges that drilling engineers encounter.

Although we are at the forefront of our market and operators in the Middle East have welcomed our introduction, there are many instances where, with our help, a client will drive a solution.  As a result of our partnership approach, operators have approached us to engineer a technical solution to a downhole challenge.  For instance, following a recent request from a major Middle Eastern client, in the space of just two/three months, we’ve designed, engineered, manufactured and tested a bespoke float solution.  The client is delighted with the product; indeed, such has been its success that it has now become a standard for that operator.

What are some of the key challenges and opportunities you’ve seen in the past year?

We’ve enjoyed exceptional success in the Middle East since we launched in 2016.  A team of one has grown to a team of 17; and operators have embraced our technology with an appetite that we could not have predicted.  However, the challenge is to ensure our success remains sustainable.  In the Middle East, we’ve grown to such an extent that we’ve recently invested in establishing a manufacturing function at our Abu Dhabi base.  Until recently product manufacturing was entirely managed by our colleagues in the UK.  The complicated logistics, not to mention the extra costs involved in shipping an ever-increasing volume of tools to the Middle East was impacting our progress.

I’m really proud of this development; not only are we better able to exceed our client’s expectations and continue on a sustainable growth trajectory, but we’re also extending our local footprint in the region. 

What are your focus areas, going forward?

In the longer term, our aim is to keep bringing innovative and unique technology to the market enabling operators to harness the power of circulation, reducing operational down-time and optimising performance.

In the shorter term, our focus remains on expanding our presence across the Middle East.  Central to that strategy will be the HyPR HoleSaver.  As mentioned previously, the interest in the tool is overwhelming, even more so after a client severed its string using the tool in just an hour, which we believe is a world record.  News of the one-hour recovery is spreading across the industry. Described by one client as ‘revolutionary’ and another as a ‘game changer for managing stuck pipe’, we are excited about the prospects for the HyPR.  And, of course, with ADIPEC just around the corner, it’s the ideal platform to showcase the simplicity and time saving benefits of the tool.


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Oil & Gas Middle East - September 2020

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