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VAM® celebrates its 50 years anniversary!

01/01/2015 - VAM®

Interview with Geoff Thompson, engineering consultant.
For 50 years, the success of VAM® connections was built on the knowledge and expertise of Vallourec engineers, relentlessly seeking to meet the ever-growing requirements of Oil & Gas companies. Amongst the many partners that have sustained the development of VAM® solutions, few have played a more important role than Geoff Thompson.

I have been proud and happy to support Vallourec and have invaluable memories of old school engineers of Vallourec who have proved that trust and professionalism are the true core of engineering."

Geoff Thompson Engineering consultant
Geoff has been a consultant engineer for over 30 years: his dedication to helping VAM® development is unmatched in the industry. His passion for engineering and his proximity to Vallourec have greatly contributed to bolster VAM® products to the highest levels of safety, reliability and performance. We are proud to share with you his testimonial and experience of working with VAM® for over 30 years.
 
"I celebrated 40 years in the oil industry in September 2015… it seems only yesterday I was a young engineer, working as a mud logger. It all began in 1975, with a training experience in France. I was soon intrigued by the amount of equipment, and all the bits of metal used in well engineering. Around 1980, I ended up in Oman, as an office based engineer, designing wells and ordering materials. I still didn't understand the metal side of things, and it was fairly clear that other people didn't really know much about it either. I was certain, by then, I had to learn everything there was to know and I confess my interest has never faltered since.
 
It was about that time I first encountered Vallourec, meeting with French engineers based in Abu-Dhabi where business was humming. You know, commercial salesmen tend to give a strong sales pitch and claims, but tend to grow silent when you ask them how it works! This was not the case in Vallourec: I was impressed that there actually was substance in the engineering and true competence. There was a genuine shared enthusiasm and respect from the beginning. I really started working with VAM® products around 1982, with the first VAM® series and I appreciated they really knew their stuff.
  
They used to send teachers from the UK to Oman, for expat schools, and that's where I met my wife. She had just arrived for maybe 4 days with a fresh batch of teachers and we eventually got married, had kids and followed the flow of business, moving from Oman to Indonesia, then to Damascus, in Syria… At one point we needed to settle back in the UK for the family and children's education, but there was just one place that had that kind of size in the Oil industry, and that was Aberdeen.
In Aberdeen, I joined Shell as a consultant at a very critical time, in 1991. There was a blowout in the North Sea, and the environment agency decided to conduct a lot of testing and make standards more stringent. That's how I got involved in the real field-testing of VAM® connections. We worked hard with Vallourec on new HPHT solutions for the North Sea. I recall the VAM® chap was a very knowledgeable gentleman called Nick Palmer, who eventually became a magistrate once he retired from the VAM® programme… I worked closer than ever with Vallourec, visiting mills and research and testing centers.
     
In early 2001, I moved on to the Shell Expandables team in the Hague, and ended up almost once a week at the Vallourec Research Center. We developed cladded solution that eventually succeeded. In early 1999, we needed further improvements and supported the development of VAM® HPTM and VAM TOP®. Interestingly, at the time, it was discovered that testing protocols didn't demonstrate the real performance of the product: we tweaked the testing protocol that revealed a great weakness in competitor's products, so we came to Vallourec and asked if you could come up with a solution that would meet our requirements. That's how we got involved in VAM® HPTM, double seals and more…. with lots of questions for designs. There was a VAM® HPTM designed for Shearwater, as well as a lighter version. It became the standard in the UK, and, to be honest, it's still used today, with great success. We developed 10 inch VAM TOP® casing, in 2001-2002 as well.
     
I worked for Shell, then for Maersk, in Denmark and the UK following the evolution of the whole VAM® offer to this day, in 2015. I have been proud and happy to support Vallourec and have invaluable memories of old school engineers of Vallourec who have proved that trust and professionalism are the true core of engineering. If I had to sum up my recommendations in engineering, my motto would be: check it. Check it in the real world. Do it by hand, get it double-checked… and check it again!"
     
Geoff's reputation is that of a dedicated, vastly experienced engineer. Everyone who has come to work with Geoff has welcomed his honesty and his opinion is highly valued.

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VAM® 50 years