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3M looks to enter oil and gas sector

3M, rubber specialists are marketing glass bubbles to drilling contractors to reach deeper reservoir in the Middle East.

Specialist technology company 3M, long-associated with the construction and automotive industry, is now working hard to maximise its presence in the oil and gas industry too, Oil&Gas Middle East has learnt. 3M Gulf, as it is known in the region, is now actively promoting its high technology solutions to drilling contractors worldwide.

In a bid to quickly capture the Middle East market, 3M appointed Keith Rutkowski as market development manager in Dubai last month. Joining the firm’s drive for market share, Manny Arco, 3M global technical expert for the oil and gas industry, was in Dubai last month to meet companies to further explain 3M Hollow Glass Spheres.
The hollow glass spheres, Arco said, have been used for decades in market segments like aerospace, where weight reduction is an important benefit.

“The product, with additional refinement and a few more innovations, is now being offered to the oil and gas market segment as a solution to achieve predictable low density cement slurries and drilling fluids,” he said.

Arco also said 3M has been going through a lot of changes in the last two years, in terms of hiring people and restructuring divisions to concentrate more on the oil and gas sector. Though Arco did not divulge the exact figures, he did say the company was making substantial investment in the oil and gas sector.

Since 3M deals with technologically advanced products, Arco is not very worried about competition yet, but believes that the high oil prices may one day inspire many technology companies to create similar products.

Explaining the product, glass bubbles, in detail, Arco said, “The hollow glass spheres are microscopic particles used to decrease the density of cement slurries.”
The same weight reduction technology also finds applications in the construction of buoyancy modules and as a thermal insulation component for flow assurance in offshore operations. The hollow glass spheres represent apparently a simple, efficient and effective way to deal with density reduction.
Arco also sees the product as being environmentally inert and very safe compared to alternative methods to lighten cement slurries that involve energised gases and the associated handling and safety problems with these systems.

When asked if oil companies were interested, Arco admitted it was a challenging task, as the oil industry in the Middle East has never been known to be early adopters of technology.
But, he said, there were a few companies in the region that were already using the glass bubbles, which meant that others would soon follow suit.

The technical expert from 3M is confident of regional success, as he believes the product will add value to the oil and gas market the same way it did to the car manufacturing sector.
“Hollow glass spheres will become an integral part of a solution package to provide access in depleted reservoirs, where low density drilling fluids and slurries are necessary to minimise formation damage and circulation losses,” he concluded.

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