03 Nov 2021

IPI Packers: Australian-made, international performance

IPI Packers (IPI) is a company that combines international standards and expertise with Australian design.

Specialising in the design and manufacture of down-hole products for everything from hydraulic fracturing and permeability testing to formation evaluation and acid treatments, IPI has managed to carve out a significant niche in the Australian OEM space as one of the few down-hole providers in the domestic market.

While the company has grown significantly since its foundation more than twenty years ago — with offices now in Europe, North America, South America and Asia — the creation of its products is still carried out from the company’s manufacturing base in Perth by an international development team with strong local experience.

“When our CEO Clem Rowe founded the company in 1999, he saw an opportunity to specialise in the export business, which is why the name was originally ‘Inflatable Packers International’”, says IPI Business Development Manager Colin Ingram.

“More recently we’ve changed the trading style to what we are known as on site – that’s IPI Packers.

“Over the years, we have grown to do a lot of domestic and international work, with as much as 95% of our product is exported to overseas markets in some business quarters – it’s a significant statistic for a smaller local organisation like us.”

Initially focused on the mining and geotechnical space, the company has evolved to do more in the oil and gas sector  in the last decade, gaining a reputation for robust and innovative well servicing equipment in areas such as the North West Shelf of Western Australia, onshore Australia, and international regions such as Southeast Asia, offshore California, the Middle East, India, Russia, Europe, and the Gulf of Mexico.

“IPI also supplies research institutes internationally, mainly in the USA, but also India and China,” Colin says.

“Predominantly, this is for research into hydraulic fracturing, but it has also included work in Antarctica for ice drilling that the US and French governments funded. So, when we say we supply to every continent – it’s an accurate claim!”

The company is known in the industry for its extensive history of collaboration with other service providers to deliver agile down-hole solutions.

On the technical level, IPI’s inflatable packer technology is notable as having the industries best in class recoverability feature, allowing for improved reliability in retrievable applications, providing operators with the ability to test equipment in operational specifications prior to delivery to the wellsite and to perform multiple sets in a single trip. The company is also uniquely placed as one of the only facilities in the Southern Hemisphere to offer in-house testing of elastomers to in-well temperature and pressure specifications.

Colin explains that there are significant advantages that clients can access from IPI’s combination of international expertise and local manufacturing, from speed of delivery to a simplified supply chain process.

“Typically, oil companies rely on larger service companies with a global footprint, so for large producers to offer us support not only demonstrates their support for the local market, but also gives us the chance to really step up to the plate.

“Being lean and nimble and Australian based offers the ability to progress from concept to a well specific solutions in a timely fashion.

“For example, we recently introduced and successfully ran an electric line conveyed inflatable plug system on a large bore gas well offshore WA, which provided a cost-effective, rigless solution for well intervention.

“We cut our teeth on that kind of customisation work.”

The company is set to complete its new Perth facility within the next month, which promises to double the size of its manufacturing capability over the next two years. It’s an exciting period for IPI set to usher in the next stage of the company’s expansion.

“We’ve had some support from the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Fund, which has been very helpful. I think they recognised our ability as a domestic provider and exporter of specialised products,” says Colin.

“We’ve always been open to new experiences and we are very excited for the next stage of IPI Packers.

“Meanwhile, we would say to APPEA members, that when it comes to inflatables, you’ve got world-class products being made here in Perth. Look no further!”

For more information about IPI, visit www.IPIPackers.com.