By Anthony Barich, EnergyNewsBulletin.net, 21st April 2016

THE bearish oil market of the past two years has opened opportunities for 25-year business partners Jason Antunovich and Geoff Morgan to expand their offering at Perth-based specialist asset support services provider OGS with acquisitions to fill known gaps in project delivery.

OGS recently launched hazardous area inspections company Inatex, acquired Singapore-based recruitment consultancy Jade Clover and secured the licence for Silverhorse Technologies project control software, in a series of moves that run counter-cyclical to many of the firm’s peers who are battening down the hatches to ride out the storm.

OGS started out in 2011 as a multi-disciplinary engineering services provider to the oil and gas, mining and infrastructure sectors at the height of the boom, and were kept busy as there was plenty of work to go around despite being pitted against some Tier 1 players.

But the oil price downturn of the past two years saw operators scale back their operations, so rather than go head to head with the big fish, OGS focused efforts on services requiring specialist skills and dedicated personnel.

For OGS, this meant spending most of its time on commissioning and completions projects, an area which CEO Antunovich said had too often been tacked onto the end of major construction projects and viewed as “a bit of a necessary evil”.

Yet when an operator has invested hundreds of millions to develop a project and the necessary infrastructure, they need it to become operational as quickly and cleanly as possible which is where OGS believes it excels.

Though OGS has been heavily involved in mining, having brought a Fortescue Metals Group facility up and running eight and a half weeks ahead of schedule, and undertaking a commissioning planning job for the Roy Hill iron ore mine, oil and gas has always been at the forefront of its offering.

OGS has done work for Pangaea Resources, for Buru Energy in Western Australia, for Inpex’s Ichthys project out of Singapore and for BG Group’s CSG fields in Queensland.

In the 1990s, the pair worked on Woodside Petroleum’s Laminaria/Corallina project providing engineering, construction, supervision and commissioning services.

However, over the past two years all the action for OGS has been in Asia, where Antunovich and Morgan see further opportunities, particularly after a successful jaunt to Malaysia in March, where they identified new targets and technology.

Yet Australia still presents plenty of opportunities.

“With new regulations coming out of the North Sea through Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to get vessels started, it’s quite evident that it’s an audit process not a process of construction, so they need to have independent verification and records,” Antunovich told Energy News.

The pair toyed with the idea and in 2015 created Inatex.

“It’s becoming more complex, we’re seeing more rigorous standards coming out of the North Sea into the local oil and gas sector, so quite specialist guys are needed with training requirements for inspectors which are not common in Australia,” Antunovich said.

Inatex focuses solely on hazardous area inspections, brought about partly due to increasingly complex regulatory and insurance requirements that such inspections be carried out by third parties, and in part because it is an ongoing requirement for operators.

“One of the major reasons we’ve gone this way is because it provides an alternative for operators to locking in larger ongoing service and maintenance contracts with the EPCM providers,” Antunovich said.

“Our approach allows organisations to break down the required work into smaller chunks, making it affordable and manageable until market conditions pick up and they may be looking to major expansion projects.”

Silverhorse, meanwhile, is a prime example of what Antunovich and Morgan are creating in OGS.

“We are creating a specialised organisation with specialist skillsets in known areas where there are gaps in delivering projects with high integrity, transparency to the client with the technology that wraps it all up,” Morgan, CEO of Inatex, toldEnergy News.

Silverhorse and its related products provide project control software focused on the management of business processes.

Antunovich said this represented a departure from the traditional approach of configuring applications within a pre-defined set of criteria.

“We’ve progressed our approach around a client’s needs, in part geared to the services provided by OGS and Inatex, but also used by third-party contractors and end-user organisations across many industry sectors from energy to infrastructure,” he said.

The group’s most recent acquisition, Jade Clover, positions OGS for even greater involvement in the Asian region.

“One of the big hurdles for many Australian companies doing business in overseas markets has been the high cost of labour,” Antunovich said.

“The Jade Clover acquisition immediately provides us with access to a workforce of up to 80,000 skilled personnel across a wide region and at multiple price points, which means the OGS Group can deploy to new locations a lot quicker and with significant cost efficiency.

“Coupled with that, we can now provide labour solutions covering all aspects of the oil and gas industry throughout the Asia Pacific region.”