Subsea start-up leverages changing industry

A PERTH start-up by two former Wheatstone subsea experts is creating a new paradigm for operators to preserve, store, maintain and mobilise equipment more efficiently in a low oil price world.
Subsea start-up leverages changing industry Subsea start-up leverages changing industry Subsea start-up leverages changing industry Subsea start-up leverages changing industry Subsea start-up leverages changing industry

Centurion’s warehouse in Hazelmere filling up with subsea gear.

The gestation of PSM Subsea, based at the CORE Innovation Hub in Perth's CBD, was more than two years in the making when former Chevron Corporation subsea package engineers Frode Remvik and Shaheer Mawani identified a gap in the market to address preservation, storage and maintenance costs of original equipment manufacturers' (OEM) assets.
Remvik first met Mawani 10 years ago when he was working with Cameron dealing with his now-business partner who was BHP Billiton's representative on the Pyrenees oil field development off the coast of Exmouth.
Having both been operators, and having an acute awareness of the pressure points between OEMs and operators, the pair started up PSM in November 2015 then last October  started talking to logistics company Centurion to solve a costly problem for operators.
The collaboration spread PSM nationally as Centurion has warehouses in Perth, Broome, Karratha, Darwin, Melbourne, Adelaide and Mackay.
Remvik told Energy News that synergies were identified immediately in the collaboration.
"Centurion already have existing contracts with two of the existing operators on the [St Georges] Terrace for storage, but what they didn't have was our knowledge of preservation and maintenance - engineers and technicians," he said.
"From Centurion's perspective they now have the value ad of the knowledge of the equipment and technical knowledge and experience of preserving, maintaining and even running it; for us it was economy of scale as they're an effective logistics company."
"If the operators give us their piece of kit, then depending on when and where they need it we can deliver it to the vessel, which takes a load off the operators for coordination."
While it often takes the risk-averse oil and gas industry some time to embrace new ideas, Remvik said the fact that the industry was already changing helped their cause.
While the changes indicated the time was right, procurement, logistics and the in-built processes and procedures of big operators still pose challenges.
"One of the reasons we started this is because the industry is changing," he said. 
"When we hit the Terrace talking to engineers within the operators we were preaching to the choir [on the issues operators were having with OEMs], but behind that is logistics who may have other business drivers than the engineers.
"Some of these companies like BHP, Woodside and Chevron are very driven by their procedures and processes; we as a small company want to move quickly. For us a week is a long time, for them a month is nothing."
"The biggest frustration is time. It's an artefact of being a start-up, but in oil and gas the biggest issue is the processes in bigger companies are set up for existing or bigger companies that don't cater well for start-ups."
"Getting on the approved vendor list is pretty darn hard for a start-up, and the process is really made for bigger corporations."
Yet the industry is changing, which is why PSM is now able to get a foot in the door. 
"Low oil prices means they have to innovate and collaborate, and they want to save money and be smarter about the way they do things," Remvik said.