Scratching the surface

A family-run business from Italy has grown to quickly become one of the leading providers of surface logging services to the oil majors.

However, despite its newfound size and international footprint, management strives to maintain what it believes is the root of its success: a true ‘family spirit’.

“Across the 35 countries in which it operates, GEOLOG’s unique focus is on surface logging,” states Antonio Calleri, president and chief executive officer of GEOLOG. “The company’s leadership in the use of advanced technologies for drilling optimisation and formation evaluation is a direct result of 30 years of experience and a continued commitment to research and development. GEOLOG’s advanced surface logging services and technology, coupled with its highly qualified and experienced personnel, allows its clients to improve their own drilling efficiency and productivity whilst making cost savings.”

Founded in Italy in 1982 to provide mud logging services to AGIP for its geothermal, oil and gas wells, GEOLOG established early on a strong technological and research and development culture, one that would lead to the development of a number of innovative solutions and highly technological patents. In 1994, the company expanded outside Italy, opening bases in Tunisia, Congo and Venezuela, a move that acted as the catalyst for its significant international expansion and diversification.

GEOLOG’s present management team acquired the business back in 2001 and in the time since has worked to develop its solutions and patents into commercial products and services, thus growing its customer base to include national oil companies worldwide as well as international oil companies. 2009 saw the most recent reorganisation of GEOLOG’s corporate structure with its operations, sales and administrative functions now present in Amsterdam, while its research, manufacturing and in-house production capabilities currently remain in Milan.

“Under its current management, GEOLOG has consistently grown at double digit rates, purely organically, expanding its operations from its established foothold in North and West Africa and Central America by opening new bases in the Middle and Far East, South America and more recently in the North Sea and Australasia,” Mr Calleri continues. “GEOLOG correctly forecasted the rise in importance and influence of the national oil companies and in doing so it has focused its strategy over the last decade on expanding its client portfolio to ensure a good representation of both national companies and their international counterparts.”

The company’s principle national oil company clients include Kuwait’s KOC, Algeria’s SONATRACH, Venezuela’s PDVSA, Turkey’s TPAO and Romania’s PETROM. Internationally, GEOLOG works extensively with the likes of Eni, Total, Chevron, Anadarko, Gazflot andBP, and in certain markets it also works for large integrated service providers, companies that choose GEOLOG over their own mud logging divisions. Whether this choice is driven by service requirements, technology needs or simply due to geographical presence and availability, the result is that GEOLOG ends up working directly for its competitors, “a fact that, you can imagine, works wonders when marketing the company elsewhere,” comments GEOLOG’s president.

GEOLOG provides services during the drilling process, which at the same time support the geological interpretation and the overall safety of a client’s rig. Other specialist abilities that have helped set the company apart from its competitors include its advanced gas detection system, its hole stability monitoring systems and its data transmission services. “GEOLOG is a world leader in gas detection while drilling, thanks to its advanced gas extraction solutions and its unique DualFID gas analysis system,” Mr Calleri goes on, highlighting a number of the state-of-the-art technologies GEOLOG uses to provide the best possible service. “With its real-time data transmission system, Wellcoms, the company provides timely, accurate and detailed analysis and information, and it also runs a number of complementary services that range from cutting volume monitoring to formation fracture detection and the interpretation of drilling cuttings.”

The growth of the company has been achieved largely through an unwavering commitment to investing in both technology and people: “Unlike large publicly held corporations, GEOLOG is not interested in monopolising its market share,” Mr Calleri says. “The company’s objective must be, and has always been, obtaining customer satisfaction and recognition of GEOLOG as the provider of the most advanced technological solutions in surface logging. Such is its steadfast attitude towards these principles that if GEOLOG cannot guarantee the highest level of service its customers have become accustomed to receiving, it has no problem in declining contracts or invitations to tender.”

When tendering for new projects or contracts GEOLOG can also point to its exceptional safety record and its approach to quality, health and safety and environment (QHSE) standards: “QHSE is fundamental to everything the company does and is something that is ingrained into every engineer and staff member from the very first day of his or her training,” explains Mr Calleri. “GEOLOG’s safety record is one of the very best in the industry and something we are extremely proud of.”

GEOLOG’s approach to business has always been based around the fundamental ideas of listening to its customers, understanding what they require and then adapting itself to deliver exactly that. As a result of its size, something that is boosted by its independence, GEOLOG has the flexibility needed to tailor its services towards specific needs and develop bespoke technologies, especially when delivering high-profile projects.

As Mr Calleri’s thoughts turn to the future, he reveals there are already a number of exciting plans ahead for GEOLOG: “2011 marked two significant milestones for the company as we surpassed the 1000 mark in terms of staff numbers and successfully produced our 200th mobile laboratory.” Next year will be a time for even greater celebrations as GEOLOG celebrates its 30th birthday, an event it will mark with the relocation of its Milan offices and production facilities into new offices and manufacturing facilities currently being custom built for its requirements.

Looking ahead, GEOLOG will soon be investing into re-starting its operations in Libya. This is an area of huge potential and the company is very pleased to have been able to retain its invaluable people in the country through what has been a difficult, but much needed, transition. At the same time the company will be answering to the requests of a number of its clients to follow them into new, rapidly expanding territories in East Africa and Latin America.

Central to the company’s vision for the years to come are its people and its technologies, a fact that Mr Calleri cannot stress strongly enough: “The company is actively working to expand the various joint development programmes it has in partnership with several large oil companies, programmes designed to assist GEOLOG’s clients in developing their own innovative solutions to individual drilling and reservoir problems.”

GEOLOG will also continue to invest in the training and development of its local personnel in order to have local managers present in every country in which it operates. With ca. 90 per cent of personnel employed directly from University and with very low staff turnover, most have spent their entire professional career at GEOLOG. The company’s significant and ongoing investment in training and development is a key factor in this. Indeed, although having its roots firmly in Milan, Italians abroad are less than two per cent of total employees as local staff are encouraged to move into managerial positions in their own country or internationally. The result is a young and highly entrepreneurial management team with significant international flavour. “This way of working and living represents the typical culture of a good family in which parents take care of each child by striving to understand their interests and abilities and helping them to achieve their dreams. Working on a job that corresponds to one’s interests, which may evolve in time, is my prime goal and what I try to implement with all GEOLOG employees. Working like this, one’s job becomes similar to a hobby and therefore less demanding and more rewarding. This is what I believe represents the true strengths of the GEOLOG family,” he concludes.

Services: Surface logging