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From Y2K to O&G and beyond: the ECL story

At the turn of the millennium, when the specter of Y2K was hanging over the world’s computers, Guy Heaysman and Greg Chapman set up shop in Guy’s garage to help Taranaki’s businesses ensure continuity.

From those humble beginnings, ECL has steadily grown to become what is today regarded as one of New Zealand’s foremost instrument and control specialists in the oil and gas industry.

“I had returned to Taranaki after working overseas for several years in the oil and gas industry, having left after being made redundant from the New Plymouth Power Station where I had completed my apprenticeship as an Instrument technician,” Guy says.

It was during this global travel with the oil and gas sector that Guy met Greg Chapman, who was involved in similar contracting work.

“I was thinking about a return to New Zealand, and told Greg that if he was in our part of the world to head to Taranaki and track me down. And a few months later he did just that.”

“We created ECL and began working for a range of industries including oil and gas.”

Pictured: ECL's Guy Heaysman (front) perusing one of their instrument and control systems, on site with the client.

The Year 2000 bug provided Guy and Greg with an opportunity to introduce their expertise and build solid relationships across Taranaki’s oil and gas and other industries.

“The oil and gas industry in particular is very forward focused, and began asking us what impact Y2K have on their control systems, what the implications could be out in the field, and how they could determine if their systems were Y2000 compliant”, explains Guy.

“I said to Greg – I think we’re onto something here”

Because the fledgling ECL were already accessing O&G sites to address Y2K, they rapidly began getting requests to look at other aspects of site operations.

 “We were asked ‘while you are here can you have a look at this or that?’ The relationship just grew from there.”

The number of customers grew to the point the pair required additional staff, but couldn’t fit a third in their garage, so first rented a small office, then later converted a house into a purpose built office. As the client base grew, they also made the strategic decision to focus exclusively on the O&G industry.

ECL specialises in process control and automation. Each plant has a distributed control system (DCS) with software that runs the plant. ECL writes the software and commissions it so that plants can run automatically and safely, and works across the lifespan of the project – from delivery to installation to ongoing maintenance. One of the company’s recent notable successes is the operating system for the remotely operated Pohukura Production Station.

Below - ECL's Guy Heaysman (blue shirt) pictured at STOS headquarters at the control system of the remotely operated Pohokura Production station - a system created by ECL.

 

ECL’s philosophy is to work closely with large industry contractors supporting their work, through the provision of their niche industry expertise.

Today Guy and Greg are still at the helm but the company employs over 20 staff and has long outgrown even a large garage - ECL has purchased the building next door and is expanding their site to cater for the current team and projected future growth.

Below: ECL's current office in New Plymouth (grey building on left) and the newly purchased site next door, which will enable the company to expand office facilities.

In the space of just over a decade, ECL’s growth seems remarkable, but when you look at the list of successes, it’s hardly surprising.

“We’ve worked on some very memorable projects over that time, and with some equally memorable companies,” says Guy.

From work as part of the big team on the Kupe Production Station to working on the Cheal Production Station from green field site to operation, ECL have been instrumental to New Zealand’s oil and gas growth.

Guy is particularly proud of the company’s work on Todd/Mangahewa C, where ECL expanded their existing DCS and safety system to accommodate the plant expansion, which was being run on the Mckee production station for many years, and the Ahuroa Gas Storage Project/Contact Energy/Origin Energy, where ECL developed a truly innovative programme for the DCS and shutdown system.

“There’s a lot of activity in the industry at the moment, and within our company. It’s a good time to be in New Zealand and this industry.”

 View ECL’s detailed capability listing here

 View company web site here