Company Reports - Geokinetics
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Top geophysical service provider for petroleum and mining
Written by Andrea Marino & Produced by Charlie Vecchio
Geokinetics is an American-based geophysical service company, with subsidiary companies located throughout 15 countries around the world. The company’s major regional offices are located in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Singapore, Australia and United Kingdom. Operations have been maintained throughout Africa, Asia Pacific regions, Canada, the Eastern Hemisphere, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the U.S. The company has undergone numerous mergers and acquisitions over the years, the most recent being the acquisition PGS Onshore, which was once considered a competitor, in February of this year.
Geokinetics Australasia was established in Australia in 2003 under the Grant Geophysical name. Regional Manager of the Australasia region, Greg Dunlop, describes the company’s focus: “Up until fairly recently, the vast majority of our work in this part of the world, through the Australian entity, was transition zone and ocean bottom cable, OBC, acquisition. We have just recently, within the last six to nine months, made a conscious decision to move back into the land market here in Australia.”
Dunlop has been in the industry for about 35 years, and has been working with Geokinetics since 1982, having started off at the grassroots level and progressed up to Regional Manager. “The company name has changed many times during that period, though I haven’t changed companies,” says Dunlop. “I’ve been with Geokinetics for a very long time.” Dunlop has worked all over the world, from Jakarta to the company’s home base in Houston, Texas. “I’ve operated for the company in most areas around the world,” says Dunlop. However, as a native Australian, when the opportunity presented itself, he returned to Australia in 2003 to build that business up to where it is now.
As the regional business has recently decided to shift into the land market of Australia, a considerable number of projects are on the horizon. “We have imported and mobilized a significant amount of equipment,” says Dunlop. The company aims at adding to the local market by addressing some of the historical challenges that the region has seen of acquiring seismic data. “We have the ability to supply the equipment, technology and more importantly the personnel,” says Dunlop. In one basin alone, the company was able to mobilize a crew of 6,000 channels, in addition to ten heavy vibrating units, a large remote camp accommodation and a new vehicle fleet. “Since we are a larger company, we have been able to address geophysical issues of that basin that hadn’t been resolved because there wasn’t the means to do so,” says Dunlop. “We believe we have the ability to add significantly to the success rate of the companies out there exploring these acreages.”
Additionally, the company is using innovative technology new to the Australian market. For example, Geokinetics uses an extremely low-environmental footprint, impulsive-source technology, combined with cable-less recording technology. “We believe this technology will help resolve land access issues and environmental restrictions,” says Dunlop. “We have the resources and ability to make exploration projects, which would normally be pushed to the bottom of the priority list, much more prosperous.”
In addition to its introduction into the land market, the company’s traditional line of work is still underway. In mid 2011, a large OBC project is scheduled to commence off the northwest shore. Plus, transition zone work is scheduled to begin in November of this year. “We’re not ignoring that side of it. The decision to get into the land market is really to complement our existing business model,” explains Dunlop.
PERSONNEL & EQUIPMENT
In order for Geokinetics to maintain a successful operation, two components of the business are regularly examined and improved upon—personnel and equipment. Though the company does utilize top-quality tools, Dunlop says, “A vast majority of the equipment in the industry is available to everyone, so the difference that we can make is ensuring we have the best possible people operating the equipment.” Training is often provided to staff members to ensure high-level skill sets. “We put a lot of time and money into training. We feel it is our responsibility,” says Dunlop.
As Geokinetics employees are invaluable to the business, treating employees well is a high priority. “People tend to stay with you if you look after them,” says Dunlop. “We treat employees how we would like to be treated ourselves.” Retaining good workers is critical to maintaining a positive work environment, and a profitable business.
Additionally, Geokinetics is an attractive place for young professionals in the industry due to its global presence. The company offers opportunities for travel, and gives employees the chance to work all over the globe.
The supply chain of the business is managed both locally and internationally. Most technology and geophysical equipment comes from the U.S., while all other supply needs are handled locally out of the Brisbane facility. The purchasing and logistics groups of the Houston office and the Brisbane office are in constant communication to ensure resources are being utilized as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Geokinetics had invested approximately $235 million in assets and technology company-wide over the last three and a half years.
The company has introduced a low environmental impact, impulsive-source called on SEIS™ to the Australian market. This electromagnetic impulsive-source technology allows Geokinetics to easily acquire data in environmentally sensitive areas.
Another important tool the company works with, particularly in areas with restricted land access, is a cable-less recording technology. This technology is widely available; however, Geokinetics was one of the first geophysical companies to utilize it in Australia. The technology has the same capabilities as traditional recording technology, without the cables, allowing for flexibility of the deployment of equipment and the ability to work in more areas. Additionally, with less physical equipment to move around a field, fewer personnel are required, allowing for a more cost-effective alternative.
The company has also established an extremely strong processing and interpretation division of the company. “It enables us to have the resources to look at the true geophysical aspects of some of the things we do,” says Dunlop. “We have extremely smart people in our Houston and London processing and interpretation division who assist on survey design, parameter selection and after-acquisition processing as well.”
“We are not only a geophysical-acquisition contractor; we work with all clients to truly gain an understanding of their problems, so we can provide solutions,” says Dunlop. “At the end of the day, all we’re trying to do is acquire the most accurate data in a cost-effective way, to assist oil company exploration programs in their endeavors.”
Geokinetics works with nearly all major oil companies around the world, such as Apache Corporation, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy. “Our relationship with customers is based on good communication,” Dunlop explains. “We like to be in constant contact with them.” A business development manager has been designated to work closely with clients at all times, to ensure customer satisfaction.
The company’s reputation speaks for itself, as word-of-mouth has proven to be a highly successful marketing tool.
The Geokinetics Australasia business is expected to continue to grow and expand upon its transition zone, OBC and offshore capabilities, as well as its land acquisition endeavours. “It’s important to note that in Australia, to date and historically, there has always been a certain amount of activity for our industry. It may not ever double or triple, but should gradually increase,” says Dunlop. “We are well positioned to ensure we get our share of that work.”