As everyone working with companies involved in the oil and gas sectors knows, being successful in business is about much more than maintaining costs; it is about building and nurturing relationships that last for years.
Few companies are more aware of this than Alberta-based Academy Petroleum Industries Ltd. Celebrating 30 years in business, this one-stop shop continues to work in Alberta and serve customers worldwide by providing top-quality fabrication, manufacturing, and repair work.
Founded by business partners Duane Nelson, a highly experienced welder, and Garry Brown, a trained machinist, Academy Petroleum Industries was incorporated in 1985. Born out of adversity, the two men were working at another business, Galaxy Machine, in the late 1970s, acting as welding foreman and shop foreman. In time, Nelson moved into international sales for Galaxy. With the market crash of the early 1980s and skyrocketing interest rates, Galaxy was forced into receivership. Instead of seeing the closure is a negative, Nelson and Brown took advantage of the opportunity presented to them. Since banks were reluctant to lend anyone money at the time, Brown approached his brother, a farmer, for a loan.
“That is how they started up,” says Andrew Nelson, Sales Manager and a partner in Academy Petroleum Industries. The son of Duane Nelson, Andrew started at the business working on the shop floor, soon becoming a journeyman machinist. “They bought a welding machine and a lathe, rented a little bay, and progressed from there, building the company daily, getting little jobs at a time – and everything worked out in the end,” he shares.
Today, Academy Petroleum continues to grow. With a staff of approximately 70, the company boasts workers from a variety of disciplines, including journeyman machinists, journeyman welders, qualified welders, an engineering team, and a design team. With its substantial, 80,000 square foot facility and all the necessary tools and equipment, Academy Petroleum can handle projects all the way from design to completion, including manufacturing and repair work, on time and on budget. With in-house engineering capabilities and state-of-the-art technologies, the company has positioned itself as a one-stop shop operation, and is able to meet the needs of all oil and gas sector clients.
“As a one-stop shop, we have the capabilities of designing and manufacturing, testing, and installing, so we can do everything for our clients as far as that goes,” comments Nelson. In some cases, customers come to the company with drawings, and Academy Petroleum takes on the responsibility of all stages up to manufacturing. In other cases, clients approach the business with just an idea, which results in Academy working with them hand-in-hand through every level of the project as required. Able to take on the responsibilities in-house, Academy Petroleum also works with third parties if needed.
Setting the Industry Standard
An ISO 9001: 2008 Registered company, Academy Petroleum Industries not only has the necessary staff and depth of knowledge required to successfully take on projects for all customers, but continues to innovate through the use of sophisticated 2D and 3D software programs including SolidWorks Simulation Finite Element Analysis, AutoCAD Mathcad, and others. To ensure quality, the company not only practices in-house checks, but is also accredited to a number of organizations including the Alberta Boiler Safety Association (ABSA), the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Under API certification, wellhead equipment must be tagged for service and sent back to the manufacturer for recertification every three years. In some cases, equipment which is showing signs of excessive wear must be recertified before three years have elapsed. Once it is brought back to their facilities, Academy Petroleum expertly inspects and evaluates the equipment, performs all dimensionals, and determines if the piece requires rebuilding or not. “Even if the equipment doesn’t need to be rebuilt, we still hydro-test it and provide customers with a certification stating that the piece of equipment is good for another three years in the field,” explains Nelson. Conversely, any piece of new equipment leaving Academy Petroleum for any part of the world is accompanied by documentation stating it needs to be recertified after being out in the field for three years. Keeping methodical records of all equipment, work orders are stamped on the items and documentation kept to ensure consistency.
Full Range of Services
In order to meet the needs of all customers, Academy Petroleum performs a range of services, including machining, welding, engineering, and design. Operating from a four acre site in Edmonton, Alberta, the company – which specializes in fast delivery of small run parts – also has the capabilities to take on much larger production runs through its CNC machining department, including lathes with swings up to 48 inches. Other equipment, such as manual lathes and manual drill presses, enable the company to take on a variety of jobs, while Academy’s overhead lifting capacity can handle up to 15 tons, and swing parts up to 75 inches in diameter on its Vertical Turret Lathes. Realizing that some customers need parts returned quickly, the company accommodates their needs by maintaining a large inventory of different material types of commonly used barstock and forgings, and has the ability to cut barstock up to 32 inches in diameter.
With extensive welding experience, the company has the capabilities to meet the demands of all customers. Employing a number of welding procedures, Academy’s staff can take on repairs requiring Pressure ‘B’ Certification. The team is able to weld virtually any material, including stainless steel, and employees are familiar with a variety of processes, including SMAW (Stick/MIG), GTAW (TIG); SAW (Sub-Arc), and FCAW (Flux Core). To ensure proper Post Weld Heat Treatment services, the company employs the use of two in-house furnaces.
To better serve all clients, Academy Petroleum has extensive in-house design and engineering capabilities, along with prototype validation testing. With a high degree of skill, the company is ISO 9001:2008 accredited for design and holds a Permit to Practice engineering through APEGA, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, a professional association and regulatory agency specific to Alberta. Through the use of state-of-the-art software and hardware, Academy assists with prototype testing, design validation through its in-house Pressure Test facilities, and Quality Control and Measurement capabilities.
To ensure quality, Academy Petroleum has numerous robust systems in place. As an API certified manufacturer, the company also holds a multitude of licenses, including 6A, 16A, 16C and 17B for drill-through equipment, the mainstay of the business. In some cases, the company educates customers who may not be as familiar with licensing. “Clients will call us and say they need a drilling spoil, and we will tell them basically what they need as far as criteria, because a lot of the time they may not know all about the licensing,” states Nelson. “They trust us that we are a certified manufacturer, and that we know what we’re doing. We tell them the license criteria they should have.”
In the oil and gas industry, it is essential that manufacturing and other processes be standardized and go through a quality assurance system. Once this happens, the company stamps the product with a monogram and license number. “That is basically the gold stamp; once we stamp that on our product, that is assuring it is certified and manufactured to the criteria. So you have to follow that, you can’t lose that license.”
Manufacturing parts to licensed API specifications, the company is proud to provide customers with a range of tubing head adaptors, flanges (weld necks, blinds, companions), studded tees, drilling spools, ram blocks, QRC blowout preventors, and much more. Expanding into the offshore market, Academy has taken on numerous works for Exxon, and is in the process of rebuilding a large subsea BOP in its shop. Additionally, the company – which operates at zero debt – is investigating manufacturing and repair work for other industries, such as mining and forestry. Although manufactured in Edmonton, Academy’s products are used worldwide, and can be found in China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and other countries. “We have lots of snubbing systems in China, and we have been selling lots of BOPs to the Chinese government, and have about 10 BOPs working in China now,” says Nelson.
Continuing to grow after 30 years in the business, Academy Petroleum Industries takes pride in serving all customers to the highest of quality standards. As a manufacturing facility specializing in drill-through equipment and fracking equipment, the company is able to work with customers from start to finish.