We sat down with Blair MacDougall, a Canadian gas and oil consultant, to delve into what actually goes on in the oil industry and to learn more about his own personal experience and growth in the field.As MacDougall explains, one of the challenges of the offshore oil and gas industry is that no drilling or exploration project is the same as the next, which, as he explains, is something that MacDougall enjoys. Certainly, well construction consultants and advisors carry their industry knowledge and expertise with them as they move from one exploration or drilling project to another.But, the challenges that consultants face and the project tasks that they are required to fulfill are all colorfully different.
The same goes for the environment one is working in, which is indeed one of the largest factors playing into the success of a given construction or exploration project.While there is a percentage of common tasks that are required for any well in any part of the world, it’s the unique ones that often determine success or failure.After all, there is no way that a project off the shore of say, the Western Gulf of Mexico, will face the same type of challenges as a project happening off the shore of Nova Scotia or Newfoundland or in the Canadian Arctic.Why?Because the ocean and subsea environments of both areas are so different and the stakeholders can be very different as well.That, MacDougall mentions, is what makes offshore drilling efforts so exciting – because only in the offshore industry do you get to experience the engineering challenges presented by ocean currents, winds, waves and the wide range of unpredictable weather patterns found in the ocean.
Of course, not every ocean environment presents the same severity in environmental conditions, a fact that Blair MacDougall increasingly understood during the first half of his career.During the first ten years of his career, MacDougall worked as a well construction and subsea engineer for Mobil and ExxonMobil in a variety of locations around the world, including West Africa, Western Canada, Atlantic Canada and the North Sea.After forming Waterford Energy Services, MacDougall worked in other locations such as Deepwater India, projects in China and Central Africa.In India, for example, on a project in the Bay of Bengal, MacDougall was working on wells located in deep water, but with shallow hazard-prone locations, with high currents of over 3 knots, as well as typhoons.As a result of working on that project, he was able to gain valuable experience in how to best handle both planned and unplanned disconnects safely and without harming the environment or people onboard. MacDougall explained that just having his name associated with these highly complex but successful projects was truly an honor.
From 2000 to 2004, Blair MacDougall participated as a well construction engineer for deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico and helped in the development and concept selection of subsea projects in West Africa and Brazil, all of which helped his familiarization with the environmental obstacles presented by various offshore regions.
In the end, what MacDougall’s international experience provided him was a far more expansive base of knowledge to reference and work from as he moved into the consulting world.When MacDougall established Waterford Energy Services Inc. (WESI), he had the goal of creating an offshore consulting firm that would focus on drilling in the harsh environment of the North Atlantic, in areas as such as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as export knowledge to other drilling challenges around the world.It would be an organization with the ability to provide expert solutions for drilling, subsea, completion and well testing efforts in these areas.That’s what Blair MacDougall wanted WESI to be known for, and over the past ten years, he’s proud to say that WESI’s consulting teams, and the organization as a whole, has made good on its founding goal.
Today, in addition to providing continued support for operators active in the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, China, West Africa and the Arctic, WESI looks forward to widening its consulting efforts on a more international basis, and in MacDougall’s words, the international knowledge the company has gained from the first ten years in the industry will almost certainly have its use.