Set up in 1968 by a graduate of Texas A&M University – hence the name – TAM International is today a firm headquartered in Houston, the US, but with a global presence that includes a major office in Aberdeen, Scotland.
It manufactures a wide range of oil and gas, cement integrity and zone isolation technology including inflatable and swellable packers. A recent expansion of facilities in Aberdeen has given the company much greater flexibility with its international business.
Steven Scott, vice president for the company’s Europe, Africa and Middle East division, explains the company’s products in greater detail: “Our products fall into two main product lines: inflatable packers, which is what the company started with, and swellable packers that we developed in 2004. The two go hand-in-hand as far as application of products to the clients. We also have a lot of accessory equipment that revolve around those two main products.”
He goes on to explain what packers do: “They are all used subsurface, which means that when a borehole is drilled into the ground – whether it is for gas, oil or water – our packers are installed for zone isolation, as a well barrier or other purposes. There is application for our products from the very early stages of drilling a well right through its maintenance lifetime. A well may be 20 years old but our products could still be deployed to help manage the well production. They are even involved in decommissioning, as wells need to be plugged up safely and securely before they are abandoned.”
The majority of TAM’s clients are major oil companies such as Total, Shell and Talisman, engaging directly with them to supply the products and services they require. This accounts for approximately 80 per cent of business, with the remaining 20 per cent is split equally between drilling contractors and other service companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger. Though these are much larger than TAM, they do not always possess the necessary equipment so TAM is able to provide what the company needs to fulfil its contracts.
With such a wide range of clients it is no surprise that TAM has offices on almost every continent. Though almost all of its manufacturing continues to be carried out in Houston, there are outlets in Oman, Algeria, Nigeria, Germany and Azerbaijan to name a few. Steven illustrates the responsibilities of his facility: “Though we do have very small-scale manufacturing here in Aberdeen, what we are mainly responsible for is supporting the sale and rental of our products to the clients. Additionally, with the new facilities, we now have training capabilities. Whether it was in-house or for a client, if people required training we previously sent them to Houston, but now we can do it locally and that saves a lot of time and resources.”
There are other reasons for putting £1.8 million into expanding the Aberdeen site. It was first opened in 1984 to support TAM’s involvement with BP in the North Sea but to this day the company sees Aberdeen as a hub for excellence and technological progress, making it an ideal location to invest in. By spending money to improve the site, the company has made it more autonomous and capable of capitalising on future growth potential. As it is responsible for the entire European, African and Middle Eastern regions, the much-needed upgrade has given the office new breathing space.
The company has also recently added to its portfolio with two specialist packers: TripSAVR and FREECAP GT. The TripSAVR is an inflatable packer aimed at operators of semi-submersible drilling rigs and allows for the testing of risers at the water surface when leaks have been detected. By eliminating the need to constantly submerge the risers a lot of time is saved, and when some of these rigs run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per day to rent, every second really does count. The FREECAP GT is part of the company’s swellable packer range and has been designed for high temperature applications such as geothermal steam injection and hot wells. Regular packers can operate in temperatures of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and the FREECAP GT is capable of environments up to 575 degrees Fahrenheit.
There seems to have been little to slow down TAM’s fortunes over then last few years, and even the impact of the financial crisis in 2009 only saw growth slowed to 2007 levels. This year the company has seen its business equivalent to 2008, and expects this to continue growing through the end of the year and into the next. In doing so, the company has begun getting involved in two new markets sectors, cement integrity and shale fracing.
Cement integrity, in which the steel casings are supported with cement, has become an increasingly important topic for the industry despite it having been standard practice for over 50 years. Though it already has a range of products that aid the cementing process, TAM is looking to push even further into this market by having all such tools approved to API ISO standards to assure the customer of product quality.
Shale fracing, in which companies isolate a well into smaller sections before fracturing them with liquids to gain as much of the resource as possible, has become a popular method over the past five years. TAM has been selling a lot of products to this market within the US and expects the international market for such methods to explode in the near future. As it is already experienced in the industry, it is a definite area of growth over the next two years.
With the company faring so well at the moment, there is little to suggest anything but a bright future. Steven concludes on a similarly positive note: “What we’re looking to do is continue growing the company, but at a faster rate than we have been. It would be fair to say we’ve grown organically in the past, but we now have a global strategy in place that will speed up the rate of our expansion – over the next five years we are expecting to double the revenue income.”
Products: Inflatable and swellable packers