Energy Voice | Long journey from new player to serious contender

Chrysaor chief executive Phil Kirk admits it is “spooky” that his 10-year-old can recite the company’s core values.

But Mr Kirk said it is good that those values seem to “strike a chord” with the people Chrysaor wants to do business with.

“It’s easy to be misunderstood as a newer company,” Mr Kirk said. “The way to get past that is to talk.”

He said Chrysaor “talked a lot” before clinching its landmark deal to buy stakes in 10 North Sea fields from Shell last year.

So far, Chrysaor has safely delivered on its to-do list. Mr Kirk was reflecting on a “hectic” six months since Chrysaor tied up the £3billion acquisition.

“It seems like a long time ago, but it’s only six months,” Mr Kirk said. “The transition went well and people are chipper.

“We spent the first few months getting our feet under the desk and making sure people had a safe and solid start to the Chrysaor era.

“There’s always something going well and something going disappointingly.

“We did a lot of work on permitting and consents, site services and site specifics.

“It was a hell of a job for the team. There has been no need for team building. Our people are having fun, which is great. If you are not enjoying the job it can be difficult.”

Chrysaor has 400 employees, including 200 in Aberdeen, 150 offshore and about 50 in London.

Of the 200 in Aberdeen, half transferred as part of the deal with Shell and 100 were recruited from elsewhere.

They have packed out the Capitol Building on Union Street. A ride in the lift showed the company has a presence on just about every floor.

“The landlord seems happy to have us,” said Mr Kirk, who qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young in 1991 before joining Hess in 1996.

On the integration of staff, he added: “We’ve got mixed blend of people with a lot of experience and different backgrounds.

“I’m always surprised by the level of competence people have. They’ve blended in well together. The organisation is not dominated by any of the previous cultures. It is almost a new start.”

Mr Kirk said most of Chrysaor’s focus has been on major accident prevention and that he was “proud” of the work done in that area.

“We have spent a lot of time talking to people about what is important to us and what sort of organisation we want to be,” he said.

“It’s not just about money. We want to add value safely and that’s about maintenance.”

Since the Shell deal completed, private-equity backed Chrysaor has announced the acquisition of Spirit Energy’s stakes in the Armada, Maria and Seymour fields, giving it 100% ownership of all three assets.

Read: Chrysaor ties up Spirit deal for Armada area

The purchase of 15% of the Grevling discovery in the Norwegian North Sea followed in March. Grevling could end up being tied back to Armada, on the UK side of the North Sea.

Mr Kirk said the “incremental deals” were “pleasing” and fitted in with the basin-wide drive to get assets into the right hands.

He said the company wanted to add value through drilling and incremental acquisitions, rather than mega deals.

Short term, Chrysaor wants to make sure Armada, Everest and Lomond are producing enough oil.

Work is ongoing to build a new pipeline between Lomond and Everest after the old one became blocked by a wax build-up. Construction is slated for August.

“Armada was touted to be closest to cessation of production but it is now looking in a much healthier position,” Mr Kirk said.

“There will be drilling around Everest and Lomond over the next year or two.

“Seismic has been shot around Everest and we hope we will see more opportunities there.

“There is a wider emphasis on making sure we’ve got enough life left in the facilities.

“We’ve got a little way to go there. Armada has been good historically, while Everest and Lomond will improve.”

Chrysaor has also entered into a three-year pact with Baker Hughes, a GE Company (BHGE), which will provide well services and equipment for a UK drilling campaign.

Chrysaor hired the Rowan Gorilla rig for an initial 18 months, with an option to extend the deal by a further two years.

Mr Kirk said Chrysaor wants to “lock in” as many long-term contracts as possible, which would help the company, but also the supply chain, which has been through “hard times”.

The drilling campaign got under way with a side-track well on the Maria field.

The BHGE agreement is expected to share the risks and rewards between the two companies while lowering costs.

Mr Kirk said: “The downside to having 100% equity is you can believe that everything you say is right.

“A partner like BHGE, with its expertise, is another set of eyes to test our theories. They will be risking their capital on the wells.”

Within the next five years, Chrysaor wants to have bloomed into a company which produces 150,000 barrels of oil per day in the UK, and 50,000 in Norway.

Mr Kirk said the company may make another acquisition, but that it wants organic growth, as well. The company was awarded six licences as operator in the 30th North Sea licensing round in May.

Listing Chrysaor on the London Stock Exchange is another possibility, said Mr Kirk, who founded the company in 2007, having previously been with CH4 Energy.

Mr Kirk co-founded CH4 in 2002 with two other former Hess employees and went onto acquire and operate the Markham field.

“We want Chrysaor to be a full-cycle E&P operator,” he said. “We want more operated production.

“We have a great business and office here and great people offshore, but we would like a few more platforms that we can support. We will focus on adding reserves.”

Mr Kirk, an Oil and Gas UK board member since 2013, said he was “resolutely optimistic” about the prospects for the North Sea, which has come on “one heck of a journey”.

Progress made since the 2014 publication of the Wood Review provides the foundation for that optimism.

Production has increased while unit costs have been slashed, feats which a lot of people would have “struggled to believe” were possible.

“It shows that when engineers put their minds to things they can achieve what was thought too difficult,” Mr Kirk said.

“We have a much more efficient basin. The UK Government is not changing tax rates, but is looking at measures to stimulate activity, so that’s all positive.

“We are more globally competitive, but there is still work to be done on efficiency and project execution.

“The North Sea is seeing a few more commitments and there is great hope for 10-12 final investment decisions this year.

“I do hope that happens and that the supply chain sees commitments following those, because they need to see the investment coming.”

Mr Kirk said the arrival of new entrants “who can pick up the phone and speak to each other” would change the North Sea “dynamic” and improve collaboration.

Mr Kirk also hopes the UK Government will provide an oil and gas sector deal.

The UK Government confirmed it would press ahead with a series of sector deals in November when it launched its industrial strategy, with the first awards going to construction, artificial intelligence, automotive and life sciences.

Offshore industry representatives have submitted their own proposals to try to secure an agreement.

Mr Kirk is also buoyed by the government’s interest in export finance. He said: “That’s a real positive and I hope we can build something lasting in the UK and around Aberdeen as well.”

Mr Kirk also said communication between employers and workers needs to improve. He said it was disappointing that workers voted to reject the latest pay offer from the Offshore Contractors’ Association in March.

He said: “Industry should take that as a hard lesson. I struggle to think of many deals being recommended by companies and unions, only to be rejected by workers.

“That’s a lesson we all must learn. Industry did not communicate well enough. That can be the only explanation and I hope that can get sorted.”

Source link