News (from Edinburgh Research and Innovation)

Revolutionary technology set to save oil industry billions

  • 30 July 2005
Revolutionary technology set to save oil industry billions

MTEM Ltd became the largest ever spin-out from a Scottish university in 2004 after raising £7.4M to commercialise revolutionary oilfield survey technology and, despite being acquired in 2007, still continues to operate in the Edinburgh region.

When MTEM Ltd was formed in 2004, to commercialise revolutionary oilfield survey technology, it became the largest-ever spin-out from a Scottish university. Within 4 years of launch MTEM was acquired by Norwegian-based Petroleum Geo-Services for $275 million, but still operates as a subsidiary entity, providing employment within the Edinburgh region.

In October 2004, a University of Edinburgh spin-out company, MTEM Ltd, became the largest ever spinout from a Scottish university after raising £7.4M in a funding round. 

The company was founded by a team of researchers, led by Professor Anton Ziolkowski, from the University's School of GeoSciences to commercialise a revolutionary new technology that could potentially save the oil industry billions of dollars per year that are currently wasted on drilling dry wells.

ERI helped the research team secure a £200K Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept award to support the commercial development of the patented multi transient electromagnetic (MTEM) survey technology, leading to the formation of the new company.

The new technology measures the flow of controlled pulses of electric current put into the ground and determines the resistivity of the rocks and hence the nature of the fluids in them.

Employing this technology to detect hydrocarbons before drilling would reduce the risk of drilling 'dry' wells. In the UK sector of the North Sea alone, it is estimated that more than a billion barrels of additional oil could be located and produced using this technology.

In 2007, MTEM was acquired by Norwegian oil services company, Petroleum Geo-Services ASA for $275m, less than four years after its spin-out.

Petroleum Geo-Services’ acquisition of MTEM is all the more remarkable given that MTEM was a relatively young company – clear evidence of the potential of MTEM and its technology.

MTEM still operates as a subsidiary operation of PGS, providing employment within the Edinburgh region.

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