Western man ushers in new era at PGS
As appointments go, the arrival of Chris Usher at PGS is one of the more interesting of late signalling a new emphasis in the companyís business strategy. Andrew McBarnet spoke to the man in question. The emergence of Petroleum GeoServices (PGS) as a major hitter in the geophysical services business must count as one of the great industry success stories of the 1990s. But Chris Usher, newly recruited from Baker Hughes Western Geophysical, believes that some of the story has still to be told and that he is the man destined to tell it. From his vantage point working at Western, Usher lived through the period which saw the founding of PGS in 1991 by a team of ex-Geco executives. Like everyone else, he watched the company vault to the forefront with what at the time was a highly innovative approach to 3D marine seismic acquisition. PGS's instant success was based on the revolutionary technology offered by the Ramform design vessel designed to maximize productivity. The delta-shaped Ramforms, with their 40†m beams offered a quantum leap in the number of streamers which a seismic vessel could tow. PGS made eight streamers the norm and proved that 10 and even 12 streamers were workable with correspondingly impressive km2 acquisition rates. This was not just a technology-led advance. The company was also aggressive in its building of a 3D non-exclusive seismic data library. PGS's dramatic entrée undoubtedly put pressure on the competition. In addition, the market for seismic - both proprietary and non-exclusive - seemed to offer limitless opportunities for new technology vessels as deep water acreage worldwide appeared to be opening up for exploration and production. The result was a spate of new buildings and upgrades in the late 1990s by virtually every player in the market. Unfortunately the hoped-for survey opportunities turned into something of a mirage, impacted by oil price woes and oil company consolidations.