Schlumberger aquires University spin off

Dr. Steve Larter

Source: Mark Lowey wrote the following piece for UToday, a publication of the University of Calgary


A small University of Calgary spinoff company founded on a “rock-squeezing” device has been bought by a global oil and gas services corporation working in more than 85 countries.

The acquisition of Gushor Inc. by worldwide firm Schlumberger gives the university a new link to industry, with potential for research and development collaboration, says Steve Larter, professor of geoscience in the Faculty of Science, and Gushor’s former CEO.

“For the people working at Gushor – about one-third of them are University of Calgary alumni – it’s a great opportunity,” says Larter, who is also the university’s Canada Research Chair in Petroleum Geology. “Being a Schlumberger company provides access to a lot more resources, capabilities and engineering, for scaling up technology and actually getting it in the field at scale.”

Schlumberger is the world’s leading supplier of technology, integrated project management and information solutions to the oil and gas industry. With about 120,000 employees and main offices in Paris, Houston and The Hague, the company reported revenues of more than $42 billion in 2012.

“The addition of Gushor will enable us to better support our E&P (exploration and production) customers by complementing our leading fluids and rocks technology portfolio with geochemical and fluid property analysis capabilities,” said Sameh Hanna, president, Testing Services, Schlumberger.

Gushor, which has 17 employees, was formed in 2006 based on research by Larter and his Petroleum Reservoir Group in the Department of Geoscience, and Ian Gates’ group from the Schulich School of Engineering.

The core of Gushor’s initial business was a device called the “plunger,” a sophisticated hydraulic jack that squeezes heavy oil and oilsands bitumen from rock core samples.

To produce heavy oil from oilsands with the lowest possible emissions, “one of the key things you need to do is get very good viscosity (ability to flow) measurements of the oil,” Larter notes.

“It’s great to see practical technologies emerge and be used in the field. This is just as exciting as seeing our basic research published in scientific journals, including Nature.”

The patented plunger proved to be faster, more cost effective and yielded more accurate measurements of oil viscosity than other technologies, and the device is now the industry standard.

Jennifer Adams, who completed her PhD with Larter and in 2008 was named by Oilweek as one of Canada’s next oil and gas leaders, became Gushor’s first CEO before moving to the U.S.

Gushor relocated in 2011 from the Research Transition Facility in University Research Park to the Franklin Industrial Park in northeast Calgary. The company has completed more than 400 projects with various oil and gas companies, on all major continents except Antarctica.