Gazelle’s Group of Companies

Brian Impey started his company in 1985 when he purchased a used 1-ton oilfield maintenance truck. More than 25 years later, the Gazelle’s Group of companies is a multimillion-dollar company with three divisions: Insulation Snakes®, Canline Pipeline Solutions and Gazelle’s Oilfield Service Ltd.

Each company within the Gazelle’s Group family offers different products or services, but all of them share the innovative and inventive spirit of their founder, who, thinking outside the box, was able to come up with revolutionary products and services for his industry.

Snake Innovation
Insulation Snakes was an invention driven by clients’ needs. “The head guy in the field for Canadian Occidental Petroleum [currently Nexen], came to me one day and said, ‘Brian, think of a better way to insulate our wellheads,’” Impey recounts. The way his client had been insulating the wellheads to date was crude and had a number of issues.

“We would go to the hardware store and buy batts of insulation like the ones used for insulating your house, and rolls of clear vapor barrier plastic,” he explains. “We would tape some insulation on the pipe and then wrap the vapor barrier over the insulation and tape it on as well.” This method had issues – the plastic would break down in the sunlight, it would be cut off and thrown away if maintenance had to be done on the well and it would get wet and lose its insulating value if a steamer had to thaw the wellhead.

Impey came up with a solution. “The first ‘insulation snake’ started with one that was 12 inches wide and 20 feet long,” he explains. “We just made those for Can Oxy the first year and then we kept experimenting with different materials and how we made them and kept improving the product. Our catalogue now boasts over 500 items in a variety of shapes and sizes including a new product for insulating instrumentation tubing that is being released in time for the upcoming winter season.”

Insulation Snakes are the original makers and have always stayed ahead of their competitors by making high quality products and having a high level of customer service. Insulation Snakes are manufactured in the United States.

Re-inventing remediation
It was another client request that triggered the birth of the company’s Canline division. “We had a client who wanted to remediate a number of 2-inch water flood pipeline systems,” Impey explains. “The whole system was built out of 2-inch pipe and many of the lines had corroded to the point of failure. They were at the point where oil production was being shut down because they were not meeting their voidage requirements.

“The head facilities engineer wanted to use stainless steel tubing as a freestanding liner,” Impey recounts. “It was the only type of product that was small enough in diameter to work inside the 2-inch pipes and high enough pressure for the operating conditions.” The catch was that it hadn’t been done.

“The regulatory agencies had no precedent for using this material in this application and they weren’t about to say, ‘Sure, go ahead and do it,’” Impey explains. They made the oil company do an extensive engineering study proving the suitability of the material and they also had to come up with an installation procedure that was acceptable. So the head engineer of the oil company asked Impey to come up with the entire installation procedure.

“He knew me well enough to know I was innovative and he needed innovation,” Impey recalls.

“Between his engineering studies and my installation procedures, we were able to satisfy the regulatory agencies and licenses were granted to proceed with the work.” he continues.

“One of the things that distinguish many entrepreneurs in Alberta, is the capacity to think outside the box and figure out how to do things better,” he says.

Impey makes sure his employees get experience and are innovative as well, coming up with solutions on the spot. “Experienced people are critical in this type of work,” he explains.

“My guys out in the field come up with solutions that other guys don’t even think about.” EMI