Born in Houston, raised in London, Gardiner Henderson is no stranger to travel. Which is just as well, since his latest job has him in almost perpetual motion criss-crossing the globe to build business and raise awareness of a company he sees as one of the oilfield service sector's ‘best kept secrets'. David Morgan caught up with him on a recent return visit to London.
Gardiner Henderson joined the Cleveland, Ohio-headquartered Eaton Corporation earlier this year as director, oil & gas. The conglomerate is today celebrating its 100th anniversary, yet despite much pioneering product development work and a string of telling corporate acquisitions has never really achieved the kind of oil & gas market profile its technological success and business longevity warrant. Henderson is busy putting that right.
In London mid-October he hosted a day-long event showcasing Eaton's latest developments and innovations in the critical areas of hydraulic and electrical power distribution and control for oil & gas applications, upstream and down. With the accent on ‘safety, reliability and efficiency', Henderson and senior colleagues Astrid Mozes and Frank Campbell – EMEA presidents respectively of the company's hydraulics and electrical groups – conducted a number of seminars pointing up the business benefits that can be developed from Eaton technology and took guests on a ‘technology walk' through some leading-edge technologies for which it and high-profile portfolio additions such as Vickers in the late 1990s, Boston/Weatherhead (2002) and Integrated Hydraulics (2008) have been responsible. These are the messages that Henderson will be rolling out at similar gatherings around the world in the coming year.
‘Eaton offers the most robust line of customised electrical and hydraulic solutions for exploration and production platforms, providing the heavy power and heave compensation capabilities needed to operate in remote locations and in extreme conditions,' says Henderson.
‘You'll find that Eaton products have been working quietly behind the scenes in some of the best-known manufacturers' equipment in the oil & gas industry for decades, including motors and pumps, valves, clutches and brakes, cylinders, power units and thermoplastic hoses. ‘Eaton is a diverse organization, with some 73,000 employees worldwide and a $14 billion turnover last year,' he adds. ‘Its portfolio of products is surpassed only by its global reach, with 250 manufacturing locations plus regional headquarters in Switzerland, China, the US and Brazil. The company has continued to invest heavily in R&D through the downturn and we are building on our Vickers heritage to invest in new technologies that will help overcome some of the intractable challenges associated with deepwater drilling. Interestingly, in the year since Macondo – a real tragedy both in human and environmental terms – demand for Eaton services across its hydraulic product line has grown exponentially, 35% year on year, more than double the overall market growth rate.'
Having come to Eaton from ABB corporate, where he led oil & gas strategy and managed the global relationship with operator ConocoPhillips, and having earlier worked for Shell Services in Houston in marketing and business strategy development roles, Henderson knows a thing or three about this market. He sees tremendous opportunities going forward for companies, like Eaton, able to deliver on their ‘safety-reliabilityefficiency' promises.
‘With global oil & gas capex increasing by 15% this year to $919 billion – 67% of it in exploration and production – and deepwater oil expected to account for 15% of production by 2015, we see massive growth ahead in deepwater E&P,' he declares. ‘Over a hundred rigs are currently under construction (through 2016) for deployment primarily offshore Brazil, Asia and West Africa. We see huge technical challenges associated with deepwater E&P in remote environments, a requirement for more efficient use of power on rigs and platforms to make them more self-sufficient, the introduction of more stringent safety regulations, and the need for more robust components and systems to cope with huge pressures and offer better protection from corrosion.'
Summing up, Henderson says: ‘Eaton is committed to the industry, and as an organization it is committed to advancement as can be seen for example in its investment in people who, like myself, come from the oil & gas industry. Additional changes are in the works and we will probably be ready to talk about them in the first or second quarter of 2012. But one thing will not change – as it has done for decades now, the company will continue to provide the industry with safe, reliable, efficient systems. Eaton is out there.' OE