ASRC Energy says Cook Inlet key to new strategy

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2003

Like a turn-of-the-century buggy whip maker finding itself suddenly in an automobile world, Alaska's oil and gas support industries need to make substantial changes to keep up with the times.

That was the simple, yet telling, story ASRC Energy Services President and CEO Mike Stophlet used to illustrate his company's changing philosophy Wednesday at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce.

The point of the story is easy to see, he said.

"Change is constant, and if you don't change with it, soon you can be a victim of that change," Stophlet said.

Stophlet told the chamber that ASRC a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation formerly known as Natchiq has worked hard over the past 18 months to streamline its business model in order to keep up with an industry that has changed significantly in the past decade. He said his company recently found itself falling behind the times in terms of how it portrays itself in the business world.

"We had not been performing up to our capabilities," he said.

Stophlet described a company that was able to do a lot of small things well, but lacked focus and direction. Realizing that as Alaska's proven hydrocarbon supplies decline, technology companies must change too, the company got a new name, along with a newly structured model based on doing business more efficiently.

"Business drivers are changing, and in the old days, time was money," he said. "These days, money is money."

The newly christened ASRC Energy, he said, is working hard to focus its business on three key components: sustaining its core capabilities, clarifying its identity and gaining efficiencies. The company has done this by reorganizing itself into three service areas that include engineering and technology; operations and maintenance; and pipeline, power and communications sectors.

Along with taking a renewed interest in gaining efficiencies, Stophlet said ASRC Energy has also been looking at what areas of its business it does well. And that means looking at places such as Cook Inlet, where the company has a proven track record of success.

"Kenai and the peninsula overall is a very vibrant part of our business and we're excited about participating in the market down here," he said.

He pointed out that at any given time, ASRC Energy has between 50 and 600 employees working on the peninsula. The company recently built three drilling modules in Nikiski for installation at the North Slope's Alpine field, and has worked with Marathon and Unocal on recent pipeline ventures, including the Kenai-Kachemak Pipeline.

Although the area's oil and gas fields are among the most mature in Alaska, he said that can be a benefit to his company, which as a multidimensional service provider can enable smaller oil companies to seek out new oil and gas sources.

"We provide all consulting services it would require to take a prospect from truly a prospect to production," he said.

That means ASRC Energy will be focusing even more on providing a high level of support services in the area as current reserves reach maturity.

"We see this as a very strategic area," he said.

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