Well-drilling by Professionals!
Serik Kudaikulov, Director of Burmash Ltd., Phd. Is interviewed by our magazine
Serik Kimelyevich, this year your company celebrates its 5th anniversary. Could you please tell us how Burmash Ltd. was set up?
It would be no exaggeration to say that all my working life has been dedicated to the drilling business. On graduating from Moscow Institute of Geological Exploration I qualified as a specialist in mineral resources exploration technology. I began my career as an assistant drill-man with the Karatau expedition to Kentau. Then I worked in executive positions within the geological field party and expedition. Later on I left my field job for special graduate studies in Moscow. After defending my Ph.D. thesis I continued my career in the position of supervising engineer at Diamond Tools Plant, incorporated with the Yuzhkazgeologia Production Association. In 1999, after the reconstitution of Yuzhkazgeologia first into a state-owned holding company and then into a joint-stock company, followed by privatization, this once powerful structure finally disintegrated, and I realized that that was the right time to start my own business. I decided to establish a drilling and service company, since by that time I had acquired strong experience in this field. In 2000 Burmash Ltd. obtained a governmental licence for mining and drilling operations and services as well as a licence for well-drilling in uranium deposits.
Starting from point zero is always difficult. What was your first major project?
When we had just started our operations, we were given invaluable help by some Kyrgyz friends with whom I had studied in Moscow. Thanks to their assistance our company made a contract for exploration drilling at non-commercial stock pile at the Makmal open-cast mine owned by Kyrgyzaltyn JSC. Regardless of the large number of difficulties that we faced at that time such as the problem of importing equipment temporarily, the need for skilled labour, and competition with local companies, we obtained quite good results. The crux was that the exploration performed earlier by Kyrgyzaltyn had been based on short hole drilling, whereas we employed pneumatic impact drilling with a drilling depth to 30 meters. The use of this method not only gave a six fold cost saving, but allowed the time needed for the evaluation of ore reserves and grade to be reduced. Carrying out the project in cooperation with Kyrgyzaltyn, we got our first experience in independent work and earned a profit, which we spent on the plant and equipment necessary for our future operations. It can safely be said that Burmash Ltd. started its dynamic development from that very moment.
Which companies are the main customers of Burmash Ltd. today?
Due to our policy of flexible prices combined with the high quality of our work, we have developed cooperation with leading companies in Kazakhstan. As a result, within the period from 1999 to 2003 our company performed more than 50 geological exploration contracts. Let me state a few facts:
For the last four years Burmash Ltd. has performed repeated drilling under a contract with Altynalmas OJSC. To explore the Akbai group of deposits, we drilled core holes totalling about 10,000 meters in aggregate depth with a drilling depth down to 400 meters. Similar holes were drilled at mines of Zhairem GOK, where the aggregate depth amounted to more than 12,000 metres. Another of our long-term business partners is Vasilkovsky GOK. At the world-famous Vasilkovsky open-cast mine our specialists drilled 1,500 meters of exploration core holes with a drilling depth down to about 350 meters. Oriented core samples have been taken from 30% of the holes drilled at this mine. We also received orders for drilling from the Republic of Kazakhstan Committee for Geology and Subsoil Protection, the National Atomic Energy Company Kazatomprom, TEK Kazinvest, Katco JV, KazGerMunai JV, Altyn-Ai Ltd. and other companies and organizations.
Seismic hole-drilling has recently become a challenging direction of activity for Burmash Ltd. For instance, under contracts concluded with Kazakhstankaspishelf OJSC and Dank NPF we performed successful drilling operations in the Caspian Region and Kara Kum in the territory of Kyzylorda Oblast, Aktyubinsk Oblast and Atyrau Oblast. There the aggregate depth of seismic holes exceeded 500,000 meters with a drilling depth to 30 meters.
Burmash Ltd. makes continual efforts to employ up-to-date technology and expand its activities into new markets. Thus we recently included the oil-and-gas and construction industries in our sphere of interest.
Having developed our own drilling technology, we now have the experience and capability to drill special types of holes for the construction of gas pipeline electrochemical protection stations, as well as to drill holes for piles for various building and construction foundations.
Such a wide range of customers requires adequate production facilities. How would you evaluate the equipment level of Burmash Ltd.?
From the very beginning of Burmash Ltd.’s operations, a steady increase in production capacity has been one of the main priorities of our strategy. We do not put company’s profit into our pockets; instead we allocate it to developing the company. There was not a single drilling rig in the company’s ownership in 1999, but now the production fleet of Burmash Ltd. contains 10 drilling units including two mobile rigs equipped with SKB-5 drilling machines, two self-propelled UKB-4S rigs equipped with SKB-4 drilling machines for drilling holes, one 1BA-15V self-propelled unit for rotary drilling of hydro-geological, exploration, water-supply, inspection and other types of wells with a drilling depth to 800 meters, five self-propelled drilling installations of the URB-2A2 and URB-2,5A types for drilling of structure test wells and development test wells, seismic holes, soil boring and prospecting wells, as well as special-purpose wells.
It should be noted that all our drilling rigs are manufactured in Russia, while a compulsory condition for participation in tenders held by most large customers is a requirement to use drilling strings and pipes of foreign manufacture. We have managed to solve this problem by establishing direct relationships with the world largest manufacturers of geological exploration and mining equipment, such as the Canadian companies JKS Boyles International Inc. and Boart Longyear. Having applied our own engineering solutions to our drilling rigs we adapted them to drilling strings produced by these companies and this, together with the application of new chemical agents, polymers and lubricants, has built one of the competitive advantages of our company.
We are not resting on our achievements, so as early as this year we are going to buy our first drilling rig produced in Canada. In addition to the major equipment there are about 30 units of ancillary equipment in the company’s production fleet. Last year we acquired warehouses and a depot located in Almaty. Today the depot is used by our drilling teams as a trans-shipment point and repair station.
Please say a few words about the human factor in your company.
Burmash Ltd. is a team of like-minded people. The core staff is formed by individuals that I have been acquainted with for more than 25 years. All of them are experts in our business. The specific character of the industry that we work in has an effect on the personnel structure and capacity. The number of employees varies from 30 to 100 persons, according to the scale of work. We do not employ casual labour alongside these: the company’s HR policy targets qualified and responsible specialists. The performance of any drilling project depends primarily on staff professionalism and safety compliance. In this connection Burmash Ltd. is paying increasing attention to its personnel training program. For instance, only this year 14 employees received training at a drill operator training school organized at the Volkovgeologia Production Association.
In conclusion, the traditional question: what are the future prospects of the company?
As I said earlier, the company has successfully developed some areas of business that are unconventional or unusual in the industry.
Nevertheless our major priority is still exploratory drilling, especially since there has been a considerable upturn in the mining industry connected with the general economic recovery. Moreover, rich ore deposits are not inexhaustible, and investors and those domestic mining companies that think about their future are paying more attention to revaluation and replenishment of their mineral base. For this reason they are increasing expenditure on geological exploration and implementing new technologies to allow efficient development of various mineral deposits.
I am sure that this process will produce high market demand for our company’s experience and engineering solutions.
Office 74, 85/91 Maulenov St., Almaty
Republic of Kazakhstan, 480012,
Tel: +7 (3272) 676272, 231474,
Tel/Fax: +7 (3272) 676113, 569220
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