Technology acquisition enhances firm’s services

Technology acquisition enhances firm’s services

Oil and gas technology firm Blue Gentoo said yesterday it had made a “significant” investment in its future with the addition of business acquired from chemical monitoring and management specialist Lux Assure.

Blue Gentoo, based in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, said the “five-figure sum” acquisition of Lux’s Ommica technology had already created three jobs in a new subsidiary.

The deal was signed by Blue Gentoo chief executive Jeanette Forbes and her counterpart at Lux, Emma Perfect.

Both businesswomen are widely recognised for their strong commitment to encouraging more women to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related industries.

Edinburgh-based Lux developed Ommica in its research laboratory and introduced it to the market four years ago.

The analytical kit allows users to accurately determine the concentration of mono-ethylene glycol and methanol concentrations in produced oil and water, which is important when exporting into pipeline systems and oil tankers.

It is claimed better process management using Ommica can add $3 to $4 to the value of every barrel of oil produced.

According to Blue Gentoo, sales of Ommica have steadily increased year-on-year by providing an easy-to-use, on-site chemical analysis to replace a time-consuming laboratory-based alter-native. The patented product is now sold in five continents.

Ms Forbes said the purchase was a “good strategic fit” with the new owner’s digital gas hydrate management business.

She added: “Blue Gentoo has technology which monitors, detects and manages gas hydrate risk in pipelines using real-time sensors and machine learning.

“Many of the customers for this technology are also customers of Ommica, so we now have more innovative tools to satisfy their needs.”

The acquisition comes just two years after Blue Gentoo was formed on Scottish Enterprise’s inaugural Grey Matters programme.

It is also only a year since the firm completed the Oil and Gas Technology Centre’s TechX Pioneer technology incubator programme.

Founders Phil Bremner, Chris Oliver and Chika Uduma have steadily built up the business, partnering with Hydrafact – a Heriot Watt University spin-out – and working with Aberdeen University’s computer science department on a machine learning research and development project.

Blue Gentoo aims to tackle the problem of gas hydrates, which are a challenge for all upstream gas producers.

They occur when gas reacts with water in a pipeline, often resulting in concrete-hard ice plugs which block pipelines, stop production and are extremely hard to remove.

Gas producers spend billions of pounds a year trying to reduce the risk of gas hydrates but the current approach is expensive, imprecise and inefficient.

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CEO Joins Pioneering Penguins – June 2019

CEO Joins Pioneering Penguins – June 2019

One of Aberdeen’s most respected and seasoned entrepreneurs is swapping her role as head of her family business for the challenges of a high growth new start business.

Jeanette Forbes, of PCL group, is joining the board of Blue Gentoo Ltd as CEO to help drive the business forward and scale it up for growth.

Jeanette Forbes said “ I’m excited by the potential that companies like Blue Gentoo have to improve on embedded industry practices. The future is digital and Blue Gentoo is at the forefront of this – deploying machine learning and digital analytics to tackle an old problem in a new way (and releasing significant value for its customers as a result). We know the challenges faced in bringing new technology to market and in convincing people of the benefits of change and I’m looking forward to this challenge. My hope is that Blue Gentoo will help secure the future of the oil and gas industry in Scotland and create challenging and interesting career paths for those involved”

Blue Gentoo was hatched 2 years ago on the inaugural Grey Matters business incubator programme (run by Elevator for Scottish Enterprise). The company founders, Phil Bremner, Chris Oliver and Chika Uduma have steadily built up the business and the brand since then, partnering with Hydrafact, a Heriot Watt University spin out company, and working with Aberdeen University Computer Science department on a machine learning R&D project.

Chris Oliver, co-founder and CFO said “Jeanette’s appointment is a high point for Blue Gentoo. Her track record in growing businesses is impressive as is her commitment to promoting careers in science, technology and engineering.  I’ve followed Jeanette’s achievements over many years and look forward to working with her to set the direction for Blue Gentoo and help it deliver on its potential”

The company gained prominence last year, when it was selected to join the first OGTC TechX Pioneer programme, which aims to fast track the impact that technology-based start-ups can have on the industry. This gave the company greater prominence among local oil and gas operators, which should lead to initial field trials in the coming months.

Blue Gentoo addresses the problem of gas hydrates, which are a challenge for all upstream gas producers. Gas hydrates occur when gas reacts with water in a pipeline and can result in concrete-hard ice plugs, which block pipelines, stop production and are extremely hard to remove. Gas producers spend billions of pounds each year trying to reduce the risk of gas hydrates but the current approach is expensive, imprecise and inefficient.

Blue Gentoo has technology which monitors and manages gas hydrate risk using real-time sensors and machine learning, and this has the potential to transform the industry’s approach, reducing hydrate risk and delivering huge cost savings.

Video Animation – A Journey from Complexity to Clarity

Video Animation – A Journey from Complexity to Clarity

An elevator pitch is a quick way to explain your business to a prospect. But it’s hard to craft and needs lots of refining and rehearsal.

With complex products and services, it’s even harder. And there’s a tendency to slip into technical speak that disengages or confuses the listener. Poorly explained messages result in failure to communicate your value proposition to customers.

Keeping It Simple

We faced this challenge with HydraSENS*, a novel device for the detection of early signs of gas hydrates. Our technology is a game-changer for gas producers. It enables them to better manage their gas hydrate risk and avoid being caught out by the unexpected. It’s based on clever chemistry. But, how can we capture the interest of technical and non-technical people?

We’ve got photos from the development lab and scientific write-ups. But it wasn’t enough.  We wanted to show the device in a clear and compelling way, focusing on what it does rather than how it works. The answer was video animation.

A Great Introduction

To explain HydraSENS, we needed to find someone to work with — someone who could tell a good story and create an interesting animation. They’d need experience of our industry and be able to work to a tight timescale and budget.

We found Anja Peter through word of mouth. She’s a graphic designer, with experience in creating animations on technical subjects. She understood our challenge and asked great questions from the get-go. This helped us to progress from “Yikes, this is hard to explain!” to “Wow, an animation will explain it well!”

Video animation infographic for HydraSENS

Start with the Hook

Using post-it notes, we downloaded our thoughts, ideas and challenges to Anja. We knew we had to address customers fear of hydrates and the consequences of a hydrate blockage. These include the impact of lost gas production, the high cost to remove hydrates, and the sheer dread of hydrates occurring. We identified three commonly held misconceptions:

  • Hydrates can form in seconds
  • There is no warning when they do
  • Once formed, they’re hard to locate and remove

This gave us a platform to build on.

Create the Storyline

Having identified ‘the hook’, the fun began. We brainstormed with Anja around the misconceptions. We stuck ideas on a wall and saw them start to form the talking points for our storyline. This felt like a major step forward — ‘hard to explain’ was now explainable.

Chris, our CFO, wrote up a script for a voiceover. He’s the least technical of the team and so best able to simply explain things. Chika, VP Sales & Marketing, then recorded it in a rich, measured tone.

Hone the Storyboard

Anja sketched out a storyboard to bring our ideas to life. This gave us something tangible to review and edit. Her patience and resilience were invaluable. She let the conversation flow but steered us back to key messages. Also, she ensured that we made the big decisions about the animation at this stage to avoid costly revisions later on. With the draft agreed, Anja defined the style and colour scheme consistent with our brand. Then she did her thing – she created the animation graphics! In her words:

“I worked very closely with Blue Gentoo, keeping them up to date at every step and getting their agreement for the next stages. It was very easy to work with the team at Blue Gentoo as when we were all together they came to an agreement on changes quite quickly.”

Draft the Video Animation

Within a week, we had the first draft of the animation,  built using Adobe After Effects.

It was amazing to see HydraSENS* come to life. We liked what we saw. We put it out to our flow assurance advisers – a tough audience – to get their feedback. This led to few minor changes, and then Anja created the final version.

HydraSENS was then ready to unveil on our website and in presentations for customers, partners and others. Free from jargon and obfuscation, it is ‘the complex, told simply,’  through the power of animation.

Reflect on the Messaging

Looking back, we thought our messaging was good before our foray into animation. But we now see how the process has transformed us. Our message is now clearer, simpler, and more memorable – and we see customers quickly seeing the difference that we can make to their business.

“Animating is the most time-consuming part of the process but for me, the most fun as well. I enjoyed the process and journey of animating HydraSENS with the brilliant team at Blue Gentoo. I appreciated their effort, time and enthusiasm – and their trust in the creative process.” — Anja Peter

*HydraSENS is a trademark of Hydrafact Ltd, our technology partner, who developed this device, exclusively licenced to and distribution by Blue Gentoo

Intelligent Hydrate Platform (iHP)

Intelligent Hydrate Platform (iHP)


The Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) have recently announced the signing of a new industry project which sees the University of Aberdeen partnering with Blue Gentoo to develop the Intelligent Hydrate Platform (iHP).  Phil Bremner, a University of Aberdeen alumni, founded Blue Gentoo after a long career in the oil & gas industry and saw the benefits to building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Innovation, collaboration and business growth

Blue Gentoo were in the first Grey Matters cohort at Elevator in Aberdeen, a successful entrepreneurship initiative which aimed to harness the experience, knowledge and innovation of senior oil and gas professionals who are either facing redundancy or have been made redundant. They have also been chosen as one of 10 technology start-ups selected for OGTC’s prestigious TechX Pioneer technology accelerator programme.  This collaboration represents the latest stage in a success story of innovation and business growth in Aberdeen.

The Challenge and the Project

The industry challenge is to prevent hydrate formation, a major subsea flow assurance problem faced during the extraction of hydrocarbons using high-pressurised pipelines positioned in cold waters.  The most reliable technique to address hydrate formation is to remove water in oil and gas pipelines with dehydrators such as MonoEthylene Glycol (MEG). This project will automatically control MEG injection by monitoring hydrocarbon parameters, calculating both the MEG required and any subsequent injection adjustments in real time and without routinely human intervention.

University of Aberdeen’s Expertise

The expertise and research ability within the School of Natural & Computing Sciences at the University of Aberdeen is well placed to collaborate with Blue Gentoo to achieve iHP project outcomes.  Dr Ernesto Compatangelo and Prof Wamberto Vasconcelos will develop and implement Artificial Intelligence technologies for use within industrial-quality software to provide a suite of management functionalities.  This will allow iHP to learn effective human and computer-devised injection strategies for hydrate prevention, reusing them in the appropriate circumstances and providing a detailed justification of the adopted strategy.

“This project has the potential to solve a real industry challenge and the fit between Blue Gentoo and the team at the University of Aberdeen was quickly evident. It’s vitally important that support is given to small technology-focused businesses, so they can help push our industry forward.”

Ian Phillips, CEO of OGIC

The University team’s experience gave us great confidence in the end product.  From the initial meeting we got the sense that this was the right team for us to work with. Our hope is that this project will also offer students and researchers an opportunity for work post project and certainly gives Blue Gentoo a unique product that will have a significant impact within the O&G industry on a global basis.”

Phil Bremner, CEO, Blue Gentoo


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Life after oil: Blue Gentoo prove that often the best solutions derive from experience

Life after oil: Blue Gentoo prove that often the best solutions derive from experience

Phil Bremner has lived a life in which he’s had many jobs within the offshore sector working across the UK, Africa and Australia.

Rather than spread himself too thin when Shell took over BG Group in 2016, at 57 he stepped away from the security that comes with working for an oil major and put the investment in himself.

“I wasn’t really keen to work for a major,” said Bremner.

“BG were a great company, don’t get me wrong, but there’s only 5000 employees. Shell just felt too big, I thought, so I took a [redundancy] package.

“I was thinking what to do at the start of 2017 when an advert popped up on LinkedIN for the Grey Matters initiative by the Elevator through Scottish Enterprise. I put my name forward and had a chat with the project manager and he said he wanted me to come on-board and get involved.”

Through this involvement with Grey Matters, a collaboration with Scottish Enterprise set up to utilise the knowledge of oil and gas professionals who are facing or have taken redundancy, Bremner set up Blue Gentoo aiming to provide solutions to the offshore sector.

Given the freedom to devise workable solutions to the issues affecting the offshore oil and gas sector Bremner began to look at a tool he knew was workable but had never been given a chance outside of huge oil companies.

The technology is perhaps ideally suited to the new smaller operators which are now springing up across the North Sea. Bremner certainly feels that way, and is delighted with where he’s chosen to undertake the challenge.

“From day one it was so positive and a had lot of energy. It was great to meet like-minded folks who – maybe didn’t have an idea – but were keen to get going again. People willing to put something back into the business,” says Bremner.

Blue Gentoo currently have three products in development: HydroCHEK, HydroSENS and HydroFLASH. Each plays a part in measuring when ice, in the form of gas hydrates, is forming and alerts the operator so they can better manage the risk  – something which had previously cost the industry millions.

“It’s what they call the overdosing of Meg,” says Bremner. “It’s like a glycol, like an anti-freeze, where during gas production there’s potential for the gas to freeze up.

“During the Grey Matters initiative I got in touch with the gas hydrates expert Professor Bahman Tohidi from Heriot Watt University and spoke to him about what we were planning to do and how we wanted to go about it – to prove the process which today is still a very manual operation.”

Bremner proposed a more automated system idea to Professor Tohidi, who had been developing the software and the science behind the tool for over 30 years, making it more commercially viable and perfectly suited to the offshore oil and gas sector.

With this new lease of life, Bremner signed a deal with Tohidi to commercialise products that had been lying dormant for a few years – previously thought speculatively unworkable.

“Now we’ve got the opportunity to commercialise three market-leading technologies. With the services and the backup and everything that Bahman’s team can offer us.”

Ever progressing, Blue Gentoo will be working with University of Aberdeen to develop the software even further in the future.

Bremner said: “We’ve really just gone into business. The company was formed in June/July this year. We’ve had a lot of support from Scottish Enterprise and Logic have awarded the company a grant, funding to develop the next piece of software to take the gas hydrates issue to the new level. It really has been wonderful.”


Credit:  Energy Voice –

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