An Experienced MWD Battery Supplier Makes A Difference: High Reliability, Expert Support, and Logistics for MWD in the MENA Market
High Reliability, Expert Support, and Logistics for MWD in the MENA Market
For MWD operations, a reliable battery supplier can mean all the difference. With every location presenting its own set of challenges, how do you choose the right one?
In this interview with Bob Fay, Regional Manager of Excell Battery’s Houston office, we discuss the very real benefits of relying on experience and a proven track record. Bob discusses the downhole battery supply market globally, as well as issues specific to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.
Over 38 years of experience provides Excell with the ability to build and recommend batteries that can be relied on, as well as get them to their destination in a safe and timely fashion.
The landscape of the downhole battery supply market
Where are end users traditionally getting their batteries from? Where are the major suppliers geographically?
MWD/LWD Batteries are primarily supplied by a group of companies in North America to operations in North America, MENA, and South America. I have heard about Asian battery pack sources, but we’re not exposed to them, so we don’t know who they are.
But most of all, the major customers in North America and the Middle East are being supplied from North America, manufactured in Canada and the U.S.
Regional problems faced when supplying to MENA customers
What are some regional problems that are very typical to come up in supplying downhole batteries to MENA (Middle East and North Africa)?
Each country has different requirements, which present their own challenges. They have different paperwork, shipping requirements, customer requirements, and some countries have temporary embargoes on shipping dangerous goods by air.
Saudi Arabia, specifically, is the most challenging as far as the requirements they have for import. Due to the difficulties of shipping lithium batteries directly into Saudi Arabia, we need to be very creative in how to get batteries into the country. In addition, Saudi Arabia has specific testing certification requirements that must be followed in order to import lithium batteries. But we’ve been able to overcome that by understanding how the process works and the right way to go about the procedure and paperwork.
Why should a downhole operation choose an MWD battery supplier based on experience?
How do Excell Battery’s experience and background give you the tools to determine what needs to be done and how you respond to these situational cases?
The experience that Excell Battery has helps us understand the downhole tools customers use and, therefore, what type of batteries are needed to power the tools. Most of the customers are using a limited number of downhole tools made by OEMs in North America. We have strong, ongoing relationships with all the major tool manufacturers, so we have knowledge and experience with the battery designs that go into those. Customers just have to let us know what tool they are using, like APS, Tensor, or Applied Physics, and as a result, we understand what type of battery they need. This also helps us understand what operational requirements they may encounter with the battery, and we can help them with that as well.
What should a MENA downhole battery purchaser look for in a supplier?
If you’re a user of a downhole battery in MENA, what should you be looking for in a supplier to give you that peace of mind that they can get a reliable product to them in a safe and timely fashion?
First and foremost, you’d want to make sure that the supplier knows how to make a good quality battery that can withstand the rigors of the downhole environment, which includes high temperatures, high shock and vibration. These batteries must use high-quality cells from reputable cell manufacturers, and all components must be capable of the downhole environment. Having a battery monitoring gauge that works reliably and accurately, has become a very important requirement of our customers.
As for safe and timely transportation, we need to make sure batteries are authorized to ship. In other words, each battery must have the appropriate UN 38.3 testing completed to allow us to ship legally. All batteries manufactured by Excell Battery meet this requirement. You also need to know how to properly package the batteries in appropriate Dangerous Goods packaging so they can arrive at the destination without incurring damage from transportation. There’s also the logistics, as I mentioned before, and understanding the best way of getting it there.
Logistics to MENA can be a headache but we’ve developed relationships with different freight forwarders locally that can get batteries to specific customer locations. Not all freight forwarders are able to get batteries to all countries but we work with a certain group of freight forwarders that we know can get into certain countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Turkey, and UAE.
Is the manufacturing quality of the batteries a common issue in the downhole market?
I would say the long-standing suppliers in North America all know how to make an acceptable downhole battery. So it’s probably not necessarily an issue, but new companies trying to come in may not have developed a good way to make a battery to withstand the downhole environment and the specific tool requirements. Also, a new supplier’s battery monitoring gauge may not be up to par in terms of reliability or accuracy.
Trends in the MWD battery supply market
Do you see any trends or changing regulations in the battery supply market to keep your eye on?
The prices of all battery pack materials have increased. Lithium demand, in particular, is rapidly growing because of the EV market. Thus, lithium costs are drastically increasing as well as putting pressure on overall supply. We keep a close eye on our cell suppliers to make sure that they are able to adequately supply products, at a fair price, and with good quality.
Earlier, you mentioned that until recently, you need to be very creative in how to get batteries into the country. Do you think there is a movement for Saudi Arabia to be more open to foreign supply?
I think they have to be open to foreign supply because there is no in-country supply of lithium batteries. On top of that, we’re seeing a lot of expansion of horizontal drilling in the Middle East, so naturally, there’s a need for more MWD batteries, which is our forte at Excell Battery.
How Excell Battery Uniquely Understands the MENA Downhole Battery Market
Is there anything else you’d say that reflects how Excell Battery uniquely understands the MENA market?
It’s important for us to get to know our customers’ operations and requirements well. We like to communicate with our customers often, and we meet a lot of the customers face-to-face. We also understand the tooling requirements well. Thus, we understand what they’re looking for when they buy a battery for a particular tool.
An experienced downhole battery supplier will help you navigate your unique challenges
An experienced MWD/LWD battery supplier is one that has spent years developing procedures to ensure the safe and timely delivery of batteries to their destination. It also has strong relationships built with customers in varying regions and with the manufacturers that make the tools that they use. This combination ensures that its understanding extends beyond the battery and into the challenges of various downhole operations. Excell Battery, with our 38-plus years of experience in MWD/LWD batteries, can support downhole operations in this manner.
For information on Excell’s Criterion 4 battery gauge for downhole operations, click here.