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Specialty Drilling Fluids, committed to Nigeria

Article - December 11, 2012
High-tech SDF is now one of Nigeria's largest integrated oil and gas service companies
The petroleum industry is the largest industry in Nigeria, and the main generator of GDP. The major players in the country such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron all have one thing in common: choosing Specialty Drilling Fluids (SDF) as a service provider to assist their activities. From modest beginnings in 1991, this company has grown to handle projects in excess of $20 million and has one of the largest turnovers of oil and gas service companies in the country.

After graduating from university in America, SDF’s Managing Director Dr Tony Eze dreamt about running his own business and his success has shown that the Nigerian market is full of opportunities. Based in Rivers State in the capital city, Port Harcourt, SDF began life as a drilling waste management company. Their services allowed oil companies to recover a lot of oil that otherwise would have been wasted, consequently boosting yields and profits.

Dr Eze quickly realised diversification and integration of services was the way to drive the company forward. “In the areas I felt I couldn’t perform, I looked for expertise and learnt from others,” he says.

SDF now describe their services as meeting the needs of the oil industry from ‘cradle to grave’. In addition to waste management they encompass mud engineering services and supply of drilling and completion chemicals for the energy industry. They rent drilling tools, offer vessel and tank cleaning and provide oilfield logistics support.

Investment in new technologies was crucial to achieve the company’s goals. SDF spent $6 million acquiring a thermal oil recovery plant (THOR), the first of its kind in West Africa. The plant is designed specifically to remove hydrocarbons from drilled cuttings and recover clean base oil. Contaminants can be recovered and recycled into useful products and treated cuttings can be returned to the environment, reducing future liability. It is a technique which is safe, reliable and economical, all crucial objectives in the oil industry. It also provides a new standard for green drilling operations, something that is becoming increasingly important in Nigeria.

Indeed SDF takes its responsibility to the environment seriously and has the capability to meet its clients’ requirements in line with guidelines from the Federal Ministry of Environment and international standards. In the unfortunate case of an oil spill the company can offer a first-class containment and recovery plan, using bioremediation, the most eco-friendly clean-up method, to degrade spilled oil on land and in water.

As the head of a wholly indigenous company, Dr Eze is proud to be one step ahead of the Nigerian government’s efforts to encourage locals to take a bigger role in the oil and gas industry, which was made law in the 2010 Nigerian Content Development Act. “We are reinvesting and encouraging Nigerians to be part of the change. We want to see Nigerians participate fully in this sector,” he says.

Dr Eze believes the secret of his success is honesty, and treating his employees well. “You must carry the people who work with you along with you, and make them feel like human beings.”

Yet SDF is not a company to rest on its laurels; it is continuously striving to improve quality and services, and meet its clients’ needs. They are considering expanding into West Africa but as Dr Eze says, “There is so much in Nigeria so why would I go to Ghana, Niger or other countries? It is only when your activities are very low that you start to think about going elsewhere. There is a lot of potential here.”

His commitment to Nigeria is surely going to result in SDF’s continued success.