AGR Drilling Services AS

Ace in the hole

AGR Drilling Services, part of the AGR Group, is one of a collection of companies unified through a strong tradition of innovation and professionalism.

The group is a leading provider of services and technologies, such as assisting small exploration companies with initial licence applications, right through to constructing and managing ambitious drilling programmes for major organisations. The group also provides expertise, technology and critical solutions for exploration, development, production and maintenance projects for some of the biggest players in the oil industry worldwide.

Alongside Petroleum Services and Field Operations, the Drilling Services division operates with expert capabilities. It is a specialist supplier of equipment and services for drilling, well-services, underwater trenching and seabed excavation to the international offshore industry. The business area consists of the companies AGR Subsea AS which provides advanced subsea pumping systems and down-hole tools; AGR Subsea limited specialising in trenching and excavation services; and AGR Mongstad AS, which has established one of the world’s most advanced factories for the renovation and recycling of used drill pipes at Mongstad, demonstrating the company’s consideration for the environment.

Tom Hasler, executive vice president of the Drilling Services division, comments on the business: “AGR started as a technology company in Bergen, Norway and has developed rapidly over the last five years to become a global oil field services company. The majority of our business is the provision of riserless mud recovery systems (RMR), which are subsea pumping systems used to return drilling fluids, such as mud and cuttings produced whilst drilling an oil well, from the seabed back to the surface.” This modern technology enables the cost-effective drilling of top holes, through reduction in risk and well construction cost where geotechnical factors may present major obstacles, recycling of drilling fluids and the ability to drill in environmentally sensitive areas.

The company’s RMR technology has contributed to a change in the way the industry currently works. With this system, the business has provided innovative solutions to the problems of where and how wells can be drilled. He continues: “We’re very technology focused and are always ahead of our competition in our market sectors with regards to developing new technology. We have some groundbreaking new drilling technology as part of our RMR business, where we’re going into very deep water and providing drilling mud pumping systems to return fluids from the seabed.

“We also have a well services division providing down hole wellbore cleanout tools, which remove debris from wells, and a seabed excavation division, which operates jetting systems to create seabed trenches and pipe-lay routes. This is required when installing subsea pipelines, preparing routes for new conduits on the seabed, basically anything that involves interfacing subsea infrastructure with the seabed.”

The company has recently arranged a seabed excavation frame agreement with the biggest offshore oil and gas company in the world, StatoilHydro. Tom elaborates: “We have signed up with StatoilHydro for a five year frame contract for seabed excavation services. This is an important sign of confidence from StatoilHydro, as we did a large seabed excavation project for them last year.” The frame agreement follows the highly successful 2008 campaign to prepare pipeline routes on the Southern Extension of the Ormen Lange field, where the company exceeded all expectations with regards to speed and accuracy. “The Ormen Lange development involved installation of pipelines in 900m water depths. We developed some very high power seabed jetting equipment, built very powerful mobile high pressure pumps and provided an offshore vessel spread, which involved a ship with pumps and jetting equipment going offshore and excavating trenches,” he says.

With an innovative range of services and equipment, the company is able to perform highly complex and customised operations by combining the most efficient and cost saving assemblies. Through these impressive capabilities, AGR are constantly working on numerous new projects, as Tom explains: “We’ve also recently been awarded, on the RMR side of the business, a contract with Chevron in Houston, to develop a new duel gradient drilling system. This is for use in ultra-deep water and is seen by Chevron as an enabling technology, without which they would not be able to drill some of their deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico. For AGR, a Norwegian technology company, to be chosen for a project like this, is a great achievement for us and builds on the success of our existing RMR technology.”

Concluding, Tom comments: “The business is organically expanding all the time. We now have bases in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Perth, Australia, Houston, US, Aberdeen, Scotland and Bergen, Norway. The business is growing geographically, but also within the capabilities of our technologies on a continual basis.

“With regards to the future, we expect AGR Drilling Services to continue growing rapidly, to develop our service lines and increase our geographic reach into new areas, with a particular focus on the deepwater regions; including the Gulf of Mexico, Asia, Australia, the North Sea and Russia. We envision developing from a Norwegian-based technology company, which is where it all started, into a world-class service company.”

The coming years for AGR Drilling Services look positive; by constantly challenging the limits of its existing processes and developing innovative and profitable technological solutions for its customers, the company will continue to prosper through the difficulties of the industry.

AGR Drilling Services AS

Services Subsea excavation