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The Importance of Innovation 

28 September 2021

Maximilian Leinenbach, Director of Technology O&G / Geothermal at Fishbones, comments on the importance of research and development in driving forward new technologies.

As an engineer, I know that myself and others spend our days solving complex challenges that contribute to the development of new and existing technologies. This can range from small fixes to the realisation of long-term multimillion dollar projects. To make sure that we are driving forward positive improvements, it is important that we embrace innovation throughout the research and development (R&D) process, including in the way we conceptualise problems and the approach we take to overcoming them. 

At Fishbones, innovation is intrinsic not only to our work but also to the company culture. As a relative newcomer to the energy industry, Fishbones has continuously broken-down barriers and overcome challenges to provide operators with ground-breaking solutions to boost sustainable and profitable production. Throughout my roles as an engineer and now Director of Technology, I have had the pleasure of being part of this development and seeing first-hand the realisation of years of hard work translated into proven results for our customers. 

The R&D process itself is incredibly collaborative and draws upon the wealth of knowledge of our small but uniquely experienced team of experts. 

In my case, I bring an analytical and structured approach to complex issues which I’ve developed through my work with advanced electrical systems as a mechanical engineer at BMW, and with highly technical downhole technologies at Aarbakke. The 6 other members of our engineering team similarly contribute their own unique skills and approaches, boosting our collaborative abilities

This branches across disciplines, with our R&D approach incorporating the wider team from sales to operations and supply chain. To go beyond this further, our past successes and current projects are all based upon the ideas we generate from open and honest conversations within the team and with our customers. Many of our projects are conducted in partnership with customers, as we develop both off the shelf solutions and those that are tailored specifically to the requirements of individual wells. 

These tailored projects, such as the Fishbones Drilling installations on Lundin Energy’s Edvard Greig field that resulted in productivity rates increasing by 10 times greater than all projections, are the result of ongoing relationships with our customers. In the case of Lundin Energy, the recent fantastic results were enabled by many years of hard work, significant team efforts and a belief in the technology dating all the way back to 2012. 

In practice, such R&D processes see initial ideas taken from the business case stage to concept sketches, cross-team discussions, and initial prototypes. Prototypes progress from small-scale digital iterations, all the way to full-scale operational models that undergo rigorous testing in our fully equipped Sandnes workshop and later at onshore test rigs in the Stavanger region. 

The availability of our workshop and local testing sites is integral to our ability to drive innovation in Fishbones’ technologies. It means that every day, we are able to test a range of new and adapted fixes, solutions and technologies that develop and expand the Fishbones offering. For myself, it means I can split my time between the office and the workshop, keeping in touch with the team while overseeing projects at all stages

To see projects come to life in the workshop, and later at customer sites, is a real honour and makes what can be at times be a challenging profession incredibly rewarding. Overcoming complex issues can of course come with frustrations, with frequent returns to the drawing board being a common process for engineers across all sectors. However, taking learnings from these challenges and turning changes around quickly is what enables us to continue to make strides forward in technological developments and in our own personal skills as an agile team

Recently, I’ve been supported to develop my own skills through a master’s degree in computational engineering. The degree developed my experience of digital prototyping which when applied in the industry has the potential to streamline processes and reduce iterations, thereby reducing associated time and costs. Digital prototyping also offers a highly visual tool that allows projects to be explained and worked through with a wider multidisciplinary audience, further strengthening the collaborative approach.

I look forward to applying these learnings to our current and future projects, and in time seeing these projects come to life as operational solutions that record successful results for our customers out in the field. With many projects ongoing, including research into the utilisation of Fishbones technologies for the green energy sector, this is an exciting time for innovation here at Fishbones

Read more about Fishbones technologies here

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