How would you summarise the last 12 months - what were the key challenges, opportunities or highlights?
“The key highlight of 2022 was the purchase of Aubin by Italmatch in June. Since then, the team has worked tirelessly to ensure that the relationship is successful for both parties. We have managed to shave off some operational costs, grow the business and put in place a young, dynamic management team. We are in a great position to be successful in 2023.”
“Transitioning to a low carbon business and positioning ourselves in a way that allows us to capitalise on opportunities in this sector remains a top priority and challenge in the year ahead. We were granted Fit for Offshore Renewable Status earlier in the year, which has allowed us to gain traction with our new ballast, buoyancy and foundation technologies.
“To continue this transition successfully, we need to maintain a focus on our traditional business, so we were delighted to be awarded a $5mn, 2 year fluid loss additive supply contract from a major Middle East service company.”
“Cost increases in materials and logistics remained a key obstacle for us this year. Having to increase our pricing across the board, to reflect this uplift, is always a challenge.
“Covid still had an effect on the business at the start of the year but as restrictions lifted and more places opened up again, we were able to come back to the office and work alongside our peers again which was refreshing after a two year absence.
“Being acquired by ItalMatch has been a key highlight for Aubin in 2022, as it strengthens our position in terms of the enhanced capabilities and being able to provide our product portfolio on a global level. Personally, I am excited to see how the business develops in the years to come, as this year it has given me an opportunity to manage a sales team again and a much larger portfolio of products to offer our customers on a worldwide scale.”
“2022 has been an eventful year from a professional point of view. It’s been great to travel internationally again after a number of trips postponed due to the pandemic, and there has been a lot of activity and growth within the business.
We have continued to develop new products for the oil and gas sector, although I have focussed a lot of time and effort on products for fixed and floating offshore wind.
“We recently concluded a 12-month project on virtual trials of a novel anchor, designed with Aubin® LiquiDense, which were conducted with the support of some powerful physics-based simulations at the National Decommissioning Centre.
“In the summer, Aubinwas acquired by Italmatch – which has been a great experience.
“By joining Italmatch, we have increased the diversity of ideas and knowledge base within our product development team, which has already started to generate some impactful innovations. I’ve been working with new colleagues in the Middle East, Italy, Manchester (UK), North America and South America – it is exciting to exchange ideas and have the capacity to deliver some very ambitious projects that would face more hurdles in a small enterprise.
“All this is very positive, but I do have to recognise some of the challenges that have continued and , in some cases, grown in 2022 – from raw material constraints and logistical challenges, to energy price increases and various other factors which have shaped some project requirements. From my perspective, we have successfully supported our customers in this regard by utilising our strong technical expertise to optimise product requirements for specific applications.”
What are the challenges and opportunities that you think Aubin and the wider chemicals industry will face in the year ahead?
“The chemicals industry continues to tackle energy and raw material price volatility and supply chain disruption as we enter 2023. We can already see a huge demand for our ESG technologies and 2023 will likely be the year that we begin to see a significant revenue stream with our energy transition portfolio. In particular, we are very excited about our Xclude and Xmax offerings for well plug and abandonment. Our first trial is underway in the UK this month and we have several orders pending.”
“The acquisition of Aubin by Italmatch is a great enabler for us to meet the current supply chain challenges of cost, availability and environmentally friendly technology. Italmatch brings a basic molecular chemical development and manufacturing capability which we can now align with our customers’ challenges. We are already working on new fluid loss and fracturing additive chemistries, as well as harmonising our acid matrix stimulation packages to optimise cost performance and local manufacturing potential.”
“We are still seeing increases in costs of materials and logistics which can be challenging for us and our customers.
“Now that we are part of the wider Italmatch group, we have an opportunity to better support our clients globally by manufacturing our products closer to where they are required, and thus helping to play our part in reducing our CO2 emissions. Another important part of the acquisition means that we have new colleagues based in Europe, Middle East and the US who can visit our clients more regularly to support them and attend face to face meetings, which has been lacking over the last couple of years due to the restrictions that were in place due to Covid.”
“The world continues to have significant supply chain, logistical and energy-based challenges as we head into 2023. Aubin and Italmatch Group are well placed to minimise the impact for our customers in this regard, as we have enhanced R&D and manufacturing capabilities that cover most parts of the world, allowing us to innovate, develop and commercialise products quickly.
“In Europe, we have still seen a few changes due to Brexit, along with some divergence in systems and supply between the UK and Europe. I have been fortunate enough to have daily conversations with colleagues based in Europe, which helps Aubin and Italmatch to respond quicker to some of these challenges than most of our competitors, as well as target product improvements very early on.
“The high oil and gas prices seen in recent times does make it essential to have plans for when this equilibrates in the future. Having implemented a diversification program for Aubin in 2019 , I think this provides both Aubin and Italmatch with more resilience for any changes ahead.
Do you have any exciting news or plans you're able to share?
“In January, Aubin Ltd will be merged into Italmatch Chemicals GB Ltd, however the Aubin name will remain a flagship brand, along with our other market leading brands Dequest and Bellasol. This means we will be able to offer a “one-stop shop” to all of our Oil & Gas customers, benefit from economies of scale and a greater geographical reach. In addition to this, the Aubin heritage team will be part of a wider Italmatch team with extra resources, support and career opportunities available.”
“We are expecting some big announcements following field trials of Xclude, our rigless permanent reservoir P&A technology. We have also successfully introduced our Trapped Oil Recovery Technique (TORT), delivering significant cost and risk reduction to two operations in the North Sea and are optimistic that this highly beneficial approach will be adopted more widely across the decommissioning sector.”
“After a thorough development process, our P&A technology - Xclude is due to commence field trials at the end of this year and give us invaluable information on field application and perfromance. This will open many opportunities in 2023 with global operators.
“Similarly, our new technology for sustained casing pressures will also get its first outing in early 2023, having been pushed back from November 2022 due to a lack of availability in equipment.
“Our buoyancy and ballast materials are gaining traction within the renewables sector for the offshore/floating wind markets in global regions. The conversations will again gain more momentum heading into 2023 and I am confident the technologies will be used on future projects to come. Our presence at conferences and events in this sector has set us in good stead in building our relationships with the key players and the technology is getting noticed.”
“Currently, I have two colleagues in the field (UK) trialling Xclude – our novel P&A technology. In parallel, we have several North Sea operators qualifying the material to use this technology in their fields in 2023. Excitingly, this technology fits into a new class of barrier material as per the most recent OEUK Well Decommissioning Guidelines, published in November this year.
“We are also working with our partners, Oceanetics, to deliver a 2023 field demonstration of LiquiAnchor – a unique anchor technology that has the potential to help deliver the ambitious targets of multi-gigawatt floating offshore wind in the next decade,both within the UK and globally.
“Additionally, our new European-manufactured cement fluid loss additive (CFL-600L) will have 50 MT produced in Q1 2023 , which has been under development for around two and a half years. It is a liquid, while we expect to have a solid available later in the year, as well as US-manufactured material available.
“Lastly, we have been working closely with Origin Tech to develop and supply the product (No Dig). Having watched the news about water shortages in recent years, this feels like a project that will deliver a high impact for the UK and other countries in the coming years, again boosting both our customers’ and our own ESG profiles.”