How Competitive Intelligence Revealed a New Market For an Oil & Gas Client

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How Competitive Intelligence revealed a new market for an Oil & Gas client

Week by week, you will read the true stories created from our Competitive Intelligence work. You’ll meet the clients and people using our insight to create more business and better business. What did they know, what did they want to know? What did they learn, and what would you do in a similar situation? This case study is called How Competitive Intelligence revealed a new market for an Oil & Gas client. We explain how we answered the questions so our client could initiate a targeted growth campaign. Names and numbers have been changed to protect confidentiality.

You know how you 

You know how you are a successful Oil & Gas specialist equipment provider with offices in Aberdeen, Dallas and Jakarta. And you work in a very niche market associated with the drilling of new reservoirs deep underground. And even deep under the sea. The business was beginning to dry up, but it could keep the business trading for the next ten years. But you are proactive, and you want to move into another less niche area of the market. You think you know your competitors and the market. But realised the massive investment needs to be based on more than experience and opinion. 

What we did was 

We got on a plane to have face to face discussions. Sadly, this was in Aberdeen and not Dallas or Jakarta. We agreed on the questions that needed answers. Answers to enable them to plan a targeted growth campaign based on innovative technology products and cost leadership. Then we put a plan together and assessed whom we knew in the market. We undertook comprehensive desk research. Then we travelled to meet relevant people to discuss the market situation. This secondary and primary research allowed us to understand what was going on. And answered questions like these:

  • What does the “specialist niche” landscape look like?
  • And what are the commercial applications of technology and track record of the technology?
  • What is the prospective clients’ perception of the historical performance of our client and its competitors?
  • And what are the pricing and commercial models within the “specialist niche”. E.g. margin growth as a factor of incremental oil production
  • What are the current contractual relationships within the “specialist niche” landscape?

This is what they got

  • An understanding that “specialist niche product” are installed approximately every XXm along a tunnel. The potential market for “specialist niche” globally is 800,000 units per year. And the market to be worth €224 million over the next five years.
  • The prediction is that the “specialist niche” and associated technology in Oil and Gas Industry will grow at 14.6 per cent over the period – 2014-2019.
  • Schlumberger’s R&D investment exceeds that of the other three main competitors combined. And even rivals that of some of the largest oil majors, despite generating only a fraction of the revenue. 
  • The completions division supplies well completion services and equipment. Within this sub-segment, Schlumberger holds the lowest share of the Big Four.
  • Over the next few years, we think the Halliburton-Baker Hughes merger will present significant opportunities for our client.
  • The chaotic nature of large-scale integration will also present Schlumberger opportunities in poaching talent and select customer contracts.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes reached an agreement to merge

  • Halliburton and Baker Hughes reached an agreement to merge on November 17th. Agreeing to swap one share of Baker Hughes stock for 1.12 shares of Halliburton stock and $19 in cash. On a proforma basis, we estimate the combined companies would have had 2014 revenues of ~$50 billion. Excluding the $7.5 billion in revenue that Halliburton could potentially divest, compared to Schlumberger’s 2014 revenue of $48.6 billion.
  • Completion Tools are a key element of Halliburton’s product mix, contributing ~16% of C&P revenue.
  • According to internal research, completion and production services is expected to create US$148 billion in revenue in 2017. 

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding, sorting and critical analysis of information. To make sense of what’s happening and why. Predict what’s going to happen and give the options to help you control the outcome. Competitive intelligence offers certainty, competitive advantage, insight, growth & security.
  • Activity across international and offshore markets remains too high despite near-term uncertainty in Egypt, Libya, and Mexico. 
  • Retrofit equipment typically gives less benefit. And X and X will find their way into the wellbore one way or another. So the problem is only delayed, and the expense moved further into the extraction process. Also, the technology is not applied correctly or is poorly implemented or operated.
  • A significant competitor rarely takes ownership of the quality of the product/service they provide. Also, the improvement wouldn’t necessarily be with the technology itself but more with the quality control. And treating it as a service rather than technology provision. 
  • In principle, if the technology doesn’t deliver once installed, the provider should take responsibility. And of course pay to understand what the issue is. It is currently standard practice that the operator pays for the investigation, never rather than the service provider.

Operators see a lot of value in enhanced recovery operations

  • It has been determined that the perception of “specialist niche technology” is where most operators see a lot of value in enhanced recovery operations. Given that the risk profile of investing in extracting more oil from a proven yet declining field is likely to be lower. However, when compared to undertaking a new greenfield exploration project.
  • Also, according to a Halliburton trainer, the average length of service of new engineers is about six months. Once the industry picks up again, Halliburton will struggle as they will not have sufficient front line staff. And those former employees would end up working with competitors.
  • The perception about Halliburton in the market and amongst its employees is that Halliburton has no clear growth plans. Weak and inexperienced line management. And very little planning goes on and much to the frustration of some customers. The engineers inform them that they are missing equipment (or chemicals) to do the job. 
  • Customers get frustrated with Halliburton as there is no accountability for those engineers in the field. They tend to run the operation, and there is very little account management support for them. 

Baker Hughes is in a state of flux

  • Baker Hughes is in a state of flux due to the potential/likely merger with Halliburton, and it is hoped that the BH culture will remain after the acquisition. This has resulted in unhappy customers and failed KPIs.
  • Baker Hughes is considered well run, especially when compared to its competitors. But there is a tendency for micromanagement. And strategies are based on the next four weeks results, not the next four years. This short-termism has become even more apparent with the pending merger. 
  • Weatherford has cut roughly half of its entire workforce in the 2.5 years. They also recently pushed through a 10% pay cut to remaining employees. 
  • Industry’s financial analysts suggest that the company seems to be working very hard to avoid going under. However, Weatherford is generally perceived by end customers as a friendly company with competent engineers with clear procedures to follow. Customers know whom to contact in each division to get the job done. Some employees suggest there is poor management, lack of resources and communication. Short-sighted understanding of senior management’s engineering functions, poor leadership, inertia, knowledge of strategy. And their sales team is not aggressive enough. 
  • 25% of Schlumberger’s workforce have been made redundant in the last 18 months. Making it harder for the remaining employees to service the needs of their clients. 

Integrated project management

  • Our analysis suggests that integrated project management will be one of the key growth opportunities over the coming decade.
  • Schlumberger is by far the leading provider of integrated services. And a critical rationale for the Halliburton / Baker Hughes deal, in our view, is to compete better against Schlumberger for this work. And particularly for mature field assets.
  • Schlumberger and others, including our client, are in an excellent position to pick off customers put off by integration-related hiccups or are wary of facing a too muscular Halliburton as a service provider.

The result was

The result was that we could furnish our client with some valuable insight into their next market. And also, their current competitors. We then suggested options for them to take to make the most of the situation they faced.  We had a delighted client on our hands with significant growth opportunities. They did expand into the “niche market and used our Intelligence to create a market. Today they are one of the market leaders in their original field of expertise and top three within their new market. Also, we understand they were in talks during 2019 to acquire a competitor.

How Competitive Intelligence revealed a new market for an Oil & Gas client

This case study is called How Competitive Intelligence revealed a new market for an Oil & Gas client. We explained how we answered the questions to provide our client to initiate a targeted growth campaign based on technology and cost leadership. 

How Competitive Intelligence Revealed a New Market

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