Address Tech21 Engineering Solutions Ltd., Beechwood Business Park Etive House, Inverness UK IV2 3BW, Scotland, UK
Telephone: +44-0-1463 710008
Fax: +44-0-1463 729768
“There are very few companies globally who specialise in high accuracy navigation underground so when something goes wrong we’re usually the first to the get the call”
One current research project is based in the Moray Firth just off Kilmuir on the Black Isle and can be seen from the Kessock bridge.
Inverness is no stranger to hosting companies with truly global reputations but Tech2l Engineering Solutions at Beechwood Business Park takes it to a whole new level.
Specialising in developing, quite literally, groundbreaking drilling software and providing consultancy services for the oil and gas industry around the world, Tech2l has an impressive track record in pioneering research that has become the standard practice across the sector.
“There are very few companies globally who specialise in high accuracy navigation underground so when something goes wrong we’re usually the first to get the call,” company founder, Professor Angus Jamieson, told Executive.
Tech2l did indeed get the call from BP during the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year. The company’s expertise in high accuracy surveying was required to help drill 17,000 feet to penetrate the crippled oil well.
“It was an honour to be involved in such a high profile and technically demanding project. We had to navigate to a well that was only seven inches wide from three-and-a-half miles away,” added Angus.
BP is just one of many international clients for Tech2l. In fact the company has been involved in operations on every continent in the world bar Antarctica.
Wherever in the world the company is operating, a common thread runs through every project- precise positioning is increasingly required in the oil industry.
“Directional drilling techniques are well established under the North Sea and are now in demand all over the world.”
As global reserves of oil dwindle, directional drilling is becoming more common place, and nowadays oil wells may reach out as much as seven miles from the platform. This helps improve efficiency, increase production and minimise the environmental impact of drilling.
Angus explained: “One of the advantages of directional drilling services is to protect the environment, drilling with a smaller surface footprint.
“In Canada’s tar sands, for example, it used to be that the earth on the surface was all scraped away across a large area using open cast mining techniques. Now we can drill directionally from a central location, with one facility on the surface. Two parallel wells are drilled horizontally, sometimes extending for several miles. One is used to inject hot steam into the tarry sand while the other pumps out the liquid tar with minimal surface disturbance.”
The original business was founded by Angus in 1988 and was built on two key services – marine survey work (effectively underwater civil engineering) and directional drilling.
Angus developed a pioneering software for directional drilling called COMPASS, which quickly established itself as the industry-wide standard. Since then Tech2l has pioneered a number of techniques, including PC Oil plan, an oil field optimisation software and 5D, a stereoscopic 3D visualisation tool, which are also used around the world by major oil companies.
In 1994 Angus sold the original business to Landmark, part of the Halliburton group, and set up Tech2l to focus more on consultancy services and developing new ideas for directional drilling and marine surveying. Over the next decade he built up a team of computer programmers, mathematicians and engineers and later brought on board astrophysicist Dr Andy McGregor, who had been working for British Aerospace in Edinburgh. Andy brings experience of high accuracy navigation techniques from the military and space industries.
In 2008, Tech2l, along with its latest software product 5D, was sold to Weatherford International with the Inverness site remaining a key area office within the Weatherford group. Angus now focuses on the consultancy side through AJ Consulting Ltd while Andy continues to run Tech2l as global service line manager.
But while consultancy and marine surveys remain key services provided by the company, research lies at the heart of the business and Inverness provides the perfect test bed location.
A small platform with a 100 square ft deck has been anchored to the sea floor to test the tension in eight anchor lines to develop a technique to measure platform stability using a brand new technique – ultimately, to improve safety – with a high degree of accuracy. The installation has been moored to sea floor since November to test it in severe weather conditions.
Angus is also closely associated with the University of the Highlands and Islands and was made Honorary Professor of Offshore Engineering last year. He is developing a suite of Continuing Professional Development courses and a Master of Science degree in Maritime Engineering and Surveying available through UHI.
Angus explained: “The reason we’re based in Inverness is that our equipment – which could end up in Borneo, Canada, Brazil or anywhere in the world – can be tested in the Moray Firth, which provides sheltered waters with access to the North Sea. Inverness is the perfect location for us.”
With a raft of changes expected in the wake of the BP oil disaster, the emphasis on precision drilling with maximum worker safety and minimum damage to the environment is only going to expand, and with it, Tech 2l’s services.
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