The deep desires of WEP
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The deep desires of WEP

Wherever you drill for oil, gas, salt or geothermal energy, the soil is different. Moreover, the possibilities are highly site-specific. To drill wells, detailed knowledge of the earth's crust is therefore indispensable. Obviously in combination with targeted advice and expert guidance. And this is precisely where the strength of Well Engineering Partners from Hoogeveen lies.

'We are a well engineering consultancy,' says Alexander Nagelhout. The CEO of Hoogeveen-based Well Engineering Partners (WEP) has barely spoken the words or he realizes that that description may not be understandable to everyone. Immediate clarification follows. 'WEP is a consultancy and engineering firm that focuses specifically on the drilling and maintenance of deep wells for the extraction of oil, gas, salt and geothermal energy. Clients in those sectors hire us for things like permit preparation, well design, procurement of materials and services, project management during the drilling phase, and well delivery and testing. At the same time, we are engaged in innovations to reduce investment and operational costs.'

In my opinion, there is no SME imaginable in this field that can pick up so many things in such an expert way.
Ruud van Dijk, NOM

Market leader

At its core, then, WEP is actually their clients' well engineering department, acting as both architect and project manager. Founded in 1996 by Tom Bakker, the company soon had the wind in its sails. Its market position was further strengthened after it merged in 2011 with PGMI, an engineering firm with, like WEP, a background in oil and gas. Almost simultaneously, current CCO Henny Cornelissen also came on board. From then on, WEP had four shareholders: founder Tom Bakker, Alexander Nagelhout, Henny Cornelissen and former owner of PGMI Dick Swart. From 2015, investor Ponooc also joined as a shareholder.

Although the organization is still emphatically involved in oil and gas, today it is mainly active in the fields of salt extraction and deep geothermal, as geothermal energy is called. Indeed, WEP is involved in most of the geothermal projects taking place in our country. 'In the field of deep geothermal drilling, we are the market leader in the Netherlands,' Alexander emphasizes. 'Obviously within our specialty of designing and supervising the implementation. We do that on a project basis, in integrated teams with the client'.

The deep desires of WEP

Drilling a new salt pit for Frisia in Harlingen.

Growth ambitions

Tom Bakker and Dick Swart are now elderly. Both indicated some time ago that they wanted to retire after all. This eventually resulted in a management buy-out, after which colleagues Peter Hoving and Geertjan van Og took their place as new shareholders and Ponooc also stepped down. 'Organizing the succession of Tom and Dick was one of the reasons for us to contact NOM,' Alexander says. 'We knew that NOM is uniquely capable of facilitating such a crucial process. Through the management buyout, WEP's continuity and independence are guaranteed. After all, our clients need independent advice at all times. Since last May, NOM has also been a shareholder, giving us even more clout to continue building the team and capitalizing on market opportunities.' Indeed, actually being able to realize their growth ambitions was another reason for WEP to turn to NOM. For this logically required additional funding, in which, in addition to NOM, Rabobank also played an important role.

Broad-based knowledge

WEP is by no means lacking in potential. This was evident after Ruud van Dijk, NOM's Investment Manager, studied the company and the market in detail. After all, NOM never takes any chances. 'We worked together intensively before the closing,' he says. 'What struck me above all is that there is an incredible amount of knowledge in the company. In total, WEP employs about 30 people, a number of whom have previously worked for large, appealing organizations, particularly Shell. In my opinion, there is no SME imaginable that can take on so many things in this field in such an expert way. Not for nothing is WEP a healthy company that runs good margins and has gained a dominant position in the market. Especially in the field of geothermal energy, they have become very decisive in recent years and, above all, able to tap new markets. Nationally, but certainly also internationally, there are still plenty of opportunities to continue growing rapidly.'

The deep desires of WEP

From left to right: Alexander Nagelhout (CEO), Geertjan van Og (CTO), Peter Hoving (COO) and Henny Cornelissen (CCO).

Surrounding countries

Of course, Covid19 also affects WEP's business. Although less hard hit in our country than in many other economic sectors, the crisis is having quite an impact on the oil and gas sector. However, Alexander is hopeful that the situation will slowly recover. For geothermal, he knows of limited uncertainty. 'Extracting geothermal heat is and will remain a distinguished part of the energy transition,' he clarifies. 'It is, for example, a sustainable alternative to gas. Complex decision-making processes do make it more complicated for our customers, but of course we continue to do our best to work out geothermal as clearly as possible technically.'

Geothermal heat is created by radiating heat from the earth's deep subsurface. The deeper you go, the warmer the water. All extraction of heat deeper than 500 meters is called geothermal heat. 'If you want access to this sustainable energy source you will obviously have to drill wells,' Alexander continues. 'Geothermal energy is also currently firmly on the map in our surrounding countries. However, compared to here, it is often organized in a somewhat fragmented way. So we can also be of great significance there. The same goes for oil, gas and salt extraction activities. Almost everywhere in the
EU we see enough leads to use our knowledge and skills in projects. Together with NOM we are in any case looking around us very carefully.'