City banker holds key to unlocking untapped oil reserves

March 21, 2019

A former City banker is confident he holds the key to unlocking untapped oil reserves in the UK North Sea.

Ivan Starostin said his patented technology can extend the lifespan of oil and gas production in the region, generating millions of pounds in extra revenue and creating or safeguarding thousands of jobs.
Mr Starostin, 36, is chief executive of Aberdeen-based TenzorGeo, a fledgling technology firm which has gone from idea to field trial in the space of just nine months.

Its low-frequency, seismic sounding system is designed to more accurately locate hydrocarbon deposits, pinpointing where it is best to drill. According to Mr Starostin, it increases the certainty for planning and drilling wells, boosting the chances of appraisal success at a fraction of the cost of conventional methods. It can nearly treble the chance of drilling a successful first well and make “small pools” of stranded resource more economic to exploit, he said.

The system is based on techniques used in geophysics for researching earthquakes that were adapted for studying onshore oil deposits in Russia, India and Latin America.

TenzorGeo’s hermetically-sealed, ultra-sensitive seisometers are dropped into the sea in a grid formation to “listen” to the subsurface environment and accurately record low-frequency signals.

They collect data at depths of up to 20,000ft before an automatic resurfacing system recovers each device.

Oil and gas deposits absorb background vibrations, so the seismic readings deliver key information about the presence of hydrocarbons.

Mr Starostin, who became an investment banker “because it was trendy” and worked for companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co, HSBC and Citi before an oil and gas enterprise management degree at Aberdeen University, said the technology offered a “rocket science” breakthrough for the North Sea industry.

TenzorGeo’s five-strong team partnered up with German marine technology specialist K.U.M. Umwelt-und Meerestechnik Kiel for a North Sea field trial with an unnamed supermajor earlier this month.

“It went great,” Mr Starostin said yesterday, adding that equipment was deployed and recovered – using diving support vessel Rever Sapphire – on schedule

“TenzorGeo has shown that we’ve got what it takes to accomplish an offshore data acquisition operation in the North Sea, he said.

He added: “It was a great example of cooperation between project team, engineers and vessel crew.”

Data interpretation will now take place at Tenzor’s supercomputer facility and we are already looking to undertake our next contract in the UKCS (UK continental shelf).

K.U.M. has been providing systems for seismic research for more than 20 years and is looking to gain a foothold in the oil and gas exploration market.

Onno Bliss, the firm’s business development manager, said: “We have been working 24/7 to meet the deadline we agreed with TenzorGEO because of the importance of this contract.

“This technology will have a major role to play in the future because, at the end of the day, it makes appraisal less expensive and more environmentally friendly.”

TenzorGEO was one of the start-ups involved in the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC)’s inaugural TechX Pioneer accelerator.

It was the 16-week TechX programme that led to the field trial and also interest from two venture capital firms.

Mr Starostin said the initiative gave him the chance to talk to senior executives, who he may never otherwise have reached, in an industry that is often slow to “jump on promising technology”.

Industry figures suggest the UK North Sea has 3 billion barrels oil equivalent of technically recoverable, but stranded hydrocarbons in small pools. OGTC is driving efforts to slash in half the cost and time to develop these resources, particularly those close to exiasting subsea infrastructure.

This article first appeared in Energy Voice on 26.02.2019.




1. Tenzor Geo Ltd, a Company registered in Scotland with Company Number SC587661 and having its registered office at 31 – 33 Union Grove, Aberdeen, AB10 6SD (hereafter Tenzor Geo); and

2. [Your Company Name] of [Your Company Address] (hereafter Partner).

Tenzor Geo and Partner agree as follows:

Affiliate means in relation to either party any entity that from time to time, directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with that party, or that is a successor (including, without limitation, by change of name, dissolution, merger, consolidation, reorganization, sale or other disposition) to any such entity or its business and assets. An entity will be deemed to control another entity if it has the power to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of such entity, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract or otherwise.

Business Purpose means discussions relating to Tenzor Geo introduction, including but not limited to its structure, technology, processes, clients, counterparties, project, plans, etc. Group means each contracting party and its respective advisers, agents and representatives from time to time and its Affiliates and their respective advisers, agents and representatives from time to time.

Information means information in any form (including, without limitation, methodology, software and computer outputs) which is not excluded under clause 4 below, whether written or oral, of a business, financial or technical nature which is marked or otherwise indicated as being or is, or ought reasonably to be, known to be confidential and which is disclosed by one party to this Agreement (the Disclosing Party) or any member of its Group to the other party (the Receiving Party) or any member of its Group or otherwise come to its attention during the parties’ involvement in the Business Purpose. Information includes information relating to the involvement of either party’s Group in the Business Purpose.

1. The Receiving Party agrees:

(a) to hold the Information in confidence and, not without the Disclosing Party’s prior written consent, to disclose any part of it, to any person other than those directly concerned with the Business Purpose and whose knowledge of such Information is essential for such purposes. The Receiving Party will ensure that those persons comply with the obligations imposed on the Receiving Party under this Agreement. The Receiving Party shall be liable for such person’s default;

(b) not, without the Disclosing Party’s prior written consent, to use the Information for any purpose other than the Business Purpose;

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3. Neither party nor any member of its respective Group warrants the accuracy or completeness of the Information. Accordingly, neither party’s Group shall have any liability to the other resulting from the use of the Information, save in respect of liability arising from fraudulent misrepresentation.

4. Clause 1 does not apply to Information which:

(a) at the time of disclosure is, or subsequently through no fault of the Receiving Party’s Group becomes, generally available to the public;

(b) becomes rightfully known to the Receiving Party’s Group through a third party with no obligation of confidentiality;

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(d) is independently developed by the Receiving Party’s Group.

5. The obligations in this Agreement shall be binding on both parties for so long as the Information retains commercial value.

6. Each of the parties acknowledges that a person with rights under this Agreement may be irreparably harmed by any breach of its terms and that financial remedies alone may not necessarily be adequate. Accordingly, a person bringing a claim under this Agreement may be entitled to injunctive or other equitable relief for any threatened or actual breach of its terms.

7. Members of the parties’ respective Groups shall have the right under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 (the Act) to enforce the terms of this Agreement. The Act shall not affect any right or remedy available to any member of either party’s Group apart from the Act.

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Tenzor Geo Ltd

Authorised Signatory: Ivan Starostin

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