M&A

Houston-area energy tech startup acquired by engineering consulting company

LaserStream has been acquired by Stress Engineering Services Inc. Getty Images

A Humble-based startup that provides laser-based scans of pipeline has been acquired by Houston-based Stress Engineering Services Inc.

LaserStream's technology that can evaluate damage and corrosion as well as calculate measurements of various equipment has been folded into SES. Three of the startup's leaders will join SES to run the group, and the financial amount of the deal has not been disclosed.

"We are proud of the prior working relationship enjoyed between our two companies and we are confident that LaserStream will forge a successful future as part of SES," co-founder Jason Waligura, who will move over to SES, says in a news release. "We look forward to delivering strong results for our existing clients, as well as expanding our capabilities with the world class service and capability of SES."

SES has acquired LaserSteam's laser-mapping technology and will combine with its laboratories and service offerings in Houston; Waller, Texas; New Orleans; Cincinnati; Singapore; and Calgary, Alberta, per the release. The technology is impactful on several industry verticals, including upstream, midstream, and downstream oil and gas, as well as the aerospace, consumer, and medical services industries.

"We believe that growing our existing capabilities is critical to our success in the broad spectrum of markets in which we participate," says Kenneth Bhalla, chief technical officer at SES, in the release. "The acquisition of Laserstream will add new, innovative capabilities in our core markets. This will diversify our product portfolio and capabilities in new and important areas. We are very excited to add LaserStream to an already outstanding business and team."

LaserStream was named one of the 10 most-promising startups at Rice University's fifth annual Rice Alliance Startup Roundup event at the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference. The company was rounded in 2014.


Photo via laserstreamlp.com

The oil and gas industry has been hit by a trifecta of challenges. This local expert has some of his observations. Getty Images

In the matter of a few weeks, COVID-19 disrupted life across the globe, but the oil and gas industry was hit especially hard with the triple impact.

First, there was the direct impact of COVID-19 on the workforce. Next, there was a dramatic drop in global demand as countries and cities around the world issues travel restrictions. Finally, there was a global increase in oil supply as OPEC cooperation disintegrated.

As energy companies raced to set up response teams to address all three concurrent issues, something that no one was quite prepared for was the speed at which all direct lines of communication for the industry were shutoff. Seemingly overnight, industry conferences and events ground to a halt, corporate offices were reduced to ghost towns, and handshakes were replaced with virtual high fives.

To fill this inability to interact, connect, and collaborate as we used to, my company, Darcy Partners, stood up a series of executive roundtables for the exploration and production community to come together and share ideas on how to approach this unprecedented series of events.

Each week, over 25 executives from various oil and gas operators (and growing) gather virtually to share best practices around COVID-19 response plans, discuss the broader impacts of the turmoil on the industry and learn about innovative technology and process solutions others are implementing to help mitigate the impact of the virus and associated commodity price volatility.

We've seen the priorities of these executives shift and evolve with each phase of COVID-19 and the market impact. In early discussions, the main focus was on taking care of their workforce and what plans were being instituted to help minimize the disruption to operations while also ensuring that no one was exposed to any unnecessary risks. Participants shared best practices and policies they had in place for communication both internally and externally as well as their transition to work-from-home.

At later roundtables, the discussion turned to commodity prices and market response. Although this industry is quite accustomed to the inevitable ups and downs, this time is notably different. The market dynamics during this cycle are far more pronounced than in past downturns – largely due to the concurrent supply and demand imbalances coupled with the broader economic uncertainty. Most operators are taking action by making cuts, and some have already decided to shut-in production. Additionally, the importance of technology and innovation came to the forefront, whether discussing tools to facilitate working from home or remote operations to ensure the continued safe operations in the field.

The future is largely unknown; all of the information and analytics and millions of outcomes being modeled do not create the full picture needed for leaders to make the difficult decisions that are necessary. But there are a few things we know for sure. First, there will be an oil and gas industry on the other side of the current turmoil. Secondly, technology will play an increasingly important role going forward. And, finally, the complex issues the industry is dealing with today can be more effectively understood and managed by coming together to share ideas and best practices.

Nearly 5 years ago, Darcy Partners was founded on the premise that there was a missing link in the oil and gas Industry for the adoption of new technologies. Today, there is a missing link for an entirely different reason. Darcy Partners has rapidly mobilized our vast network of operators, technology innovators, investors, and thought leaders to come together and create a shared level of certainty, in an entirely uncertain world. To help leaders make the decisions that must be made and prepare for a new future, one that might not have been expected, but one that the industry will evolve to succeed in.

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David Wishnow is the head of energy technology identification and relationship management at Houston-based Darcy Partners.