NorthWellGefro AS

Divine intervention

Founded as the result of a merger between Northwell Intervention and Gefro Oilfield Services, NorthWellGefro specialises in the design and maintenance of equipment for the offshore oil and gas market.

Based in Tananger, Norway, the company provides a range of servicing, machining, welding and testing services to its customers in the Norwegian oil and gas industry, working in and around the North Sea. It has also been involved in work with companies in other parts of the world, having worked in the UK, Denmark and Holland.

The company works with numerous key players in the industry, including ConocoPhillips, BP, Halliburton, FMC, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger, along with various offshore rig companies and other technology providers. In addition, NorthWellGefro has carried out the production of handling equipment for many service companies, working on several occasions with international energy company, Conoco Phillips, for which it has developed various niche products for well intervention. These products can aid the operator to reduce their cost for P&A operations.

Managing director of NorthWellGefro, Morten Myhre, who also ran Northwell Intervention before the merger, discusses the formation of his company: “When we formed through the merger, we were collaborating a lot of experience together into one new business entity. Gefro Oilfield Services was established in 1980 and had 30 years of experience in designing, machining and welding behind it. Gefro was a company with solid foundations in the Norwegian oil and gas industry. Its ‘Full Range Quality’ stamp continues to this day in NorthWellGefro.

“Northwell Intervention, on the other hand, was only founded in 2008, but we had emerged onto the scene with a definite goal – to be able to respond to the demands of operators who wanted work done quicker, to special, tailor-made specifications. Our capabilities in the service business are based on extensive experience from well applications throughout the world for decades. The technical consultancy services provided excellent support to the platform that Gefro had already developed, and so together, we are now a complete niche solutions provider to the well intervention market as well as other speciality areas. One other core business area is welding/cladding and machining of used subsea wellheads and trees for extended lifetime (refurbishment) purposes.”

In addition to its agreement with ConocoPhillips, Northwell Gefro has already secured many other contracts with multinational oilfield services majors during its relatively short time in operation. Morten reveals: “We are currently working on a number of projects with both Halliburton and FMC – the latter of which we have entered negotiation for key framework agreements. Furthermore, we are working closely with major service companies, for which we have also provided extensive educational training to its staff, besides machine and maintenance work.”

NorthwellGefro is also involved with an offshore project for BP that will go underway this summer. Morten explains: “Our successful work with ConocoPhillips last year included three jobs on the Norwegian shelf in the North Sea, and it is here that we will return with BP to conduct similar work in which we will provide abrasive perforating technology.”

Whilst abrasive perforating technology may not be new to the industry, having been used for decades, its benefits are clear. It results in significantly lower friction pressures in the actual perforation channel (skin effect) as there is no heat to damage the perforation channel.

It is also user-friendly, as Morten highlights: “Abrasive perforating technology is extremely easy to handle, and we have been able to further develop its method through integrating our own techniques into the process. Our R&D on the subject has revealed to us optimum nozzle design and operational envelope for repeatability and performance. Our perforator is not standard – the clients get what they want – what is best for their well application. We distinguish ourselves from other suppliers of abrasive perforating technology in that there is no depth limitation (TVD) in our perforation systems. This technology can easily be converted to include cutting of tubular in wells, again without any depth limitations due to hydrostatic pressure. All systems we have introduced, and more to come, are either patented or are in the patent pending process.”

NorthWellGefro is also introducing a new cut and pull system for plug and abandon (P&A) applications. Morten talks about how this technology works: “Our goal with this product is to significantly reduce the operation time for retrieving casing tubulars from wells. It is a newly developed technology that we have been developing on request from both ConocoPhillips and BP, and we currently have one system ready for the field, with a second, downsized version on the way this summer.”

The company has also developed a close relationship with Oklahoma-based Thru Tubing Solutions (TTS). Founded in 1997, TTS provides a range of services and engineering expertise to companies working with downhole tools under high-pressure environments. Its Canada-based subsidiary deals closely with the oil and gas industry in Norway, and it is here that additional research and development is conducted to help NorthWellGefro continue to innovate the technology. This relationship also introduced a connection with a small Canadian engineering company, Depiak Industrial Technology Corp. (DITC), which provides detailed engineering and technology when outsourcing is required. Morten reveals further: “It’s great for a smaller company like us to have connections with engineering companies all over the world, including companies that are maybe not oil and gas industry related – there are just many great ideas amongst other industries.”

Such research and development is an important area to NorthWellGefro, and Morten cites it as being one of the company’s main strengths: “Our capabilities, derived from ideas formed in research, development, prototype and in-house testing is very important to our success. This is then complemented by our ability to work to a fast response time, which we achieve by ordering any steel we expect to use early on in the process rather than waiting for the detailed drawings. Working in this manner may cost the project slightly more, but it can save many months’ waiting time for the client – which is significant. Parallel activities in project management are of high focus when we enter development projects, or as we say ‘forget inspiration – give us a deadline’.” NorthWellGefro is NS-EN ISO 9001:2008 accredited.

The company’s size also gives it an edge over its industry competition, according to Morten: “We are relatively small when compared to our market contemporaries. The larger suppliers deliver products and services to the global market and have multiple major projects ongoing, as we focus on customer specific challenges. Our client base is a lot smaller and so we can really focus on serving niche market segments. We strive to be one invention ahead.”

NorthWellGefro has continued to thrive, despite its inception coming in the midst of the global recession. Morten explains why: “I believe that Norway has been somewhat spared by the crisis in terms of our part of the activity. The country isn’t necessarily entirely free of any suffering, and admittedly, a lot of projects have been put on hold. But we have been fortunate in that our well intervention market and niche focus has not been disturbed too much. In fact, we have gained market share recently. Building a new company foundation is not necessarily the worst thing to do in a recession, and we will continue to bring the company forward step-by-step.”

Morten’s positivity is reflected in his outlook for the future of NorthWellGefro, as he concludes: “Our main area of interest, the Norwegian North Sea, is really thriving. We will continue to take advantage by working on more special engineering related to P&A projects, and maintenance areas. Norway alone, for example, is planning probably more than 500 P&A well projects in the coming years, as are companies in the UK and across Europe. One operator in Norway alone is looking at +20 rig-years for P&A with the use of current technology. This will require a lot of demand for P&A applications and so our work in this area will continue to develop. Someone has to take the technology to the next level. Coupled with the vast range of services we already provide, NorthWellGefro looks set to grow significantly in the times ahead.”

NorthWellGefro AS
Products: Design, production and maintenance of intervention tools and equipment