Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed Policy Generator
Phil Davies: A practical approach to a new era for well engineering

Phil Davies: A practical approach to a new era for well engineering

August 18, 2023

Tasked with overseeing much of our North Sea wells activity, Phil Davies is Head of Upstream: North Sea at Elemental Energies.

A technical engineer by background, Phil has established more than 20 years of experience in delivering high performing drilling solutions as part of an engineering career that has also extended beyond oil and gas.

In many ways, his reflections and insights are a snapshot of the role of wells expertise in the past, present, and future, as he talks about the importance of taking a pragmatic approach to the energy transition.

Tell us a bit about your background and what got you into well engineering.

My background is a very technical one, with a mathematics and physics degree and a number of jobs across the energy industry. My first foray was in the nuclear industry, before moving into semi-conductors, but after the downturn of that sector I moved into oil and gas at Pathfinder Energy Services, specialising in the Directional Drilling and Logging whilst Drilling field. I spent 11 years working through technical roles offshore and onshore before taking management positions, which culminated in assuming responsibility for UK operations.

In 2013 I joined Senergy Wells, initially managing the Performance Drilling team, before taking on global well engineering services.

I’m now Head of Upstream: North Sea at Elemental Energies which is currently a very busy role! My main function is to oversee our North Sea oil and gas projects, working with our clients and our engineering teams to ensure they are delivered to the highest standards.

How does the way that Elemental Energies works with its clients set the company apart?

We work in very close partnership with clients – it’s much more than a transactional working relationship that they have with us. Rather than providing out-the-box solutions, we are their trusted partner and work very closely with them to deliver their wells objectives.

We build teams specifically for projects, tailored to the project, which ensures there is always appropriate expertise on-hand. Within our team, we have a wide array of experts who have worked in various areas around the world, with differing expertise and broad experiences to draw on.

What are some of the biggest examples you’ve seen of expert well engineering making major impact on project efficiency and delivering results for clients?

From a performance perspective, well engineering expertise saves clients time and money, especially on challenging projects. For example, on a recent project with Repsol-Sinopec, our senior engineer recognised the need for a more detailed study by one of our performance engineers. The very specific recommendations of the performance engineer on the drilling tools required ended up saving 2-3 days on the project and substantial money for the client.

Independent wells expertise is also a critical element in reducing risk for clients, identifying risk to project timeline and cost, as well as safety and environmental risks.

Well engineering has been at the centre of oil and gas production for decades. Now in the different phases of the energy transition, what role will well engineering play moving forward?

The transition to completely green energy will take a long time, and it needs to be done in a controlled manner. Wells activity is going nowhere throughout that energy transition and, moving forward, there will be an energy mix where we will support low carbon projects such as CCUS and geothermal, decommissioning, and responsible production.

As operators reduce oil and gas production, they also reduce certain in-house staff. Our role at Elemental Energies is to provide external support, through the substantial team of experienced wells experts we have in our team. The evolution of these companies and shrinking of in-house expertise also puts risk on the industry.

Because of our leading position and long history of wells projects, taking wells expertise into energy transition projects is a natural fit for us. By becoming a trusted partner, we can supplement in-house expertise and ensure it is maintained for years to come.

Does the now broader array of wells expertise at Elemental Energies create new opportunities for clients?

Yes - as a larger, combined team, we also have a significantly broader experience base to draw on. For example, Norwell has leading experience in India and in Deepwater, where Senergy Wells have extensive North Sea and Eastern Mediterranean track record. Bringing teams together makes everyone better, because of that shared experience from around the world. Our clients now have access to a wider, more well-rounded engineering capability.

And outside of work, what do you like to do?

My life outside of work is largely a logistical challenge around football! I’m a Dad to three boys who are obsessed by the game and throughout the years I’ve spent a lot of time as a coach for school and club teams. One of my sons is part of the Montrose Academy Under 18’s side, and the others also play for school and highly successful Westdyke teams locally in Westhill, so I now spend a lot of my time watching them.

Are you a bit of a drill-master as a coach? Pardon the pun.

You could say I’m no-nonsense! But really, my outlook is that football for kids is meant to be fun and that should always come first. Whatever they’re doing, they should be enjoying it. A few years ago, I was fortunate to coach my son’s school team to winning the Scottish Schools Championship at Hampden, which was fantastic. Equally, I have coached non-competitive development football which I thoroughly enjoyed too, and I’m sure I’ll do some coaching again in the future.

elemental energies e
Return to News