GEO ExPro

Hard Work and Innovation

In just eleven years, DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) has grown from a few people working in a shed in a Perth garden, to a company employing 200 people with seven offices based all around the world. Dr. Matthew Lamont, who founded DUG in 2003 with Dr. Troy Thompson, explains why he decided to start his own geosciences company.
This article appeared in Vol. 11, No. 6 - 2015

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What led you to found DownUnder GeoSolutions?

I had always wanted to start my own business. Whilst working in Houston (for BHP Billiton) I had witnessed companies, similar to what we have now become, doing very well. After returning to Australia I realised that there weren’t really any Australian companies of this type – that is, small service companies that approach G&G from a new and different angle. The time was right to try and fill this gap in the market. A small number of my past colleagues believed in what we were trying to create and provided a modest amount of start-up capital and DownUnder GeoSolutions was born. Our first office was literally a shed that we built in my own backyard!

DUG has grown very rapidly: to what do you attribute your success?

I think there are a few things. We have worked very hard to get where we are today. We have been lucky enough to attract some fantastic (and very clever) people over the years who have helped us to grow and innovate. I think that our focus on research and development from day one has also been important. Our fleet-footedness, relatively low overheads and not being afraid to take an (educated) risk or two have served us very well. Our drive to be a successful company has certainly never waned.

Is there enough innovation in the ‘geosolutions’ field?

Yes, I believe there is. Every single project has its own unique set of challenges which need to be solved. I think this field will always strive to do things more effectively and efficiently. Innovation is certainly a big part of what we strive to do every day – be it on a technical project or a marketing strategy or an IT solution. As hardware for high performance computing continues to evolve it is essential that we keep our finger on that pulse too. For example we are embedding our processing and imaging system into our interpretation package, DUG Insight. Add this together with our new Intel Xeon Phi-powered desktops and we’re now making interactive processing a reality on each of our geophysicist’s individual computers. A testing regime that once took weeks can now be achieved in days. Innovation is a necessity if you want to stay near the front of the pack, I believe.

You are based in Perth, but where does the majority of DUG’s work come from?

In the very early days a fair amount of our work came from the Gulf of Mexico. But even then we started getting projects from a variety of international locations. Expanding our presence in south-east Asia was the obvious first step out of Perth, and we opened offices in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta in ’07 and ’08. Today we work in all corners of the globe with seven international offices including London and Houston.

How do you see the state of the E&P industry in Australia and South East Asia?

Things have flattened out a little at this moment in Australia. There is a lot of focus on a few mega-gas projects. That said, the recent Phoenix discovery (Canning Basin, offshore Western Australia) has been very exciting. Things are continuing to go well in the Cooper Basin too.

Do you think the big oil and services companies pay enough attention to Australia?

Yes I do. All of the majors have a presence in Australia. If you ask me, I think we actually have too many service companies!

You recently won the prestigious SEG Cecil Green Enterprise Award. What does this mean to you?

Our company will be eleven years old this year and we are proud of all of our achievements. But to be recognised by the SEG is certainly a great honour and it feels pretty good. There is no doubt that it will also help our international brand recognition, which will keep our business moving in the right direction!

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