How TGS-NOPEC has proved the exception to the rule
While most seismic survey companies were bent on survival, 'spec' survey specialist TGS-NOPEC has continued to prosper in a depressed market. Andrew McBarnet asked CEO Hank Hamilton for some nonexclusive answers on the secret of the company's success Things have really worked out at TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, the US-Norwegian alliance formed in June 1998 to grow a mutual interest in providing non-exclusive marine seismic data and associated products to the oil and gas industry. After all, how many oil service companies can claim to have had a good year in 1999? TGS-NOPEC's pre-tax profit for year-end 1999 was NOK†193.1 million, less than the NOK†273.9 recorded in 1998 but still healthy. Even more remarkable, in the last quarter of 1999, pre-funding of the company's trademark non-exclusive surveys was running at an enviable 82%. No marine seismic contractor can boast figures like that. Hank Hamilton, CEO of TGS-NOPEC, attributes the company's success to 'being focused and being able to generate new projects and pre-funding.' He agrees that it has also had a lot to do with being lean during the downturn. 'We are not in the same boat as the major seismic contractors. We only have a staff of 150, mainly technical, and our structure and philosophy is different. Most contractors have fixed assets - steel and equipment to keep busy. Any drop in the demand side means a lot of strife, with cuts in staff and assets, which all detract from running the business. In our case, we had to tighten our belts, but not with a lot of pain, and we were able to keep our focus.'