development of an increasing range of new and enhanced in-situ and borehole tools to keep the PROD systems on the geotechnical ‘front line’. Alongside the technology developments, Benthic invests heavily in the next generation of engineers, as Stephen details: “We have a graduate training programme in the company taking on six graduates across several disciplines. In 2014 we will take on a further six, both
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geo-sciences professionals and engineering professionals. Benthic is gearing itself up for long term oil and gas presence in major deepwater areas throughout the world and is well positioned to expand its capabilities and services as it goes forward.” Following the production of the new units, the business is considering the retirement and relocation of the original PROD1 to Houston as part of a new development and training centre, with courses running internally and externally to introduce seabed drilling to the wider industry. Following activity in deepwater mineral mining off the Solomon Islands in 2012, Benthic sees a growing opportunity in that segment, where the PROD equipment can offer some distinct advantages over more conventional equipment in some of the most challenging environments around the world. Looking beyond the forecast of a busy 2014 Stephen addresses the future focus: “Our operational bases in Singapore and Houston provide good market coverage and we will continue to work towards further geographic expansion, expecting to go live in the Brazilian market in 2014, and continue exploring frontier locations in Africa and Asia. “We plan to remain active across the entire range of the geoscience business, and are actively pursuing joint ventures or co-operation agreements with several specialist engineering companies in the industry, with a view to providing an increasing range of services to our customers. “The long-term objective of the company is to increase our customer support through conceptual engineering, interpretation and design services, and continue to expand our geotechnical core business through PROD systems. We also see synergies with the deepwater geophysical aspects of our projects and want to become active in that field, primarily through autonomous underwater vehicles. We are working towards making an entry into that market in 2015, which we believe that has lots of potential.”
European oil & gas
“Market conditions are solid and internationally there are many upcoming projects. We have interests in Mozambique and Tanzania, and Brazil has a portfolio of projects going forward. The Gulf of Mexico is making strong recovery now, post-Macondo, and operators are getting back into developing new projects, so 2014 is shaping up to be an active year.” With a new geographical advantage, Benthic is looking towards increasing its capabilities in the water. “We recently completed a project with Woodside in Australia and we are scheduled to commence work in Tanzania in 2014 at water depths close to 3000 metres, the deepest we have been so far. The drilling industry is already building and operating rigs with the capability to drill in 4000 metres water depth so it’s important for our next generation of machines to be ready for the demands of the market,” he highlights. “In preparation, Benthic is already building a new generation of launch and recovery systems to cope with increasing depths and weather conditions, and is in final negotiation with a UK contractor for the build of PROD4, which is essentially the same as PRODs 2 and 3, although we are working on extending the water depth capability to 3500 metres. We are also in the engineering phase for PROD5, which will carry more tools and more pipe to significantly extend the capability to drill deeper into the seabed,” says Stephen. Benthic continues to focus on the
All images Benthic's PROD working offshore on vesssels
Services Deepwater geotechnical and engineering support