Fun, Flying and Business Success - The Merlin ERD Journey

The CEPMLP Wednesday Visiting Speaker series continued 20th November 2019 with Mr. Iain Hutchison the founder of Merlin ERD. Iain is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). He joined Marathon Oil in Aberdeen as a Drilling Engineer after graduating in 1991 and completed assignments in Production & Reservoir depts. Positions with Anadarko, Shell, Apache, and Woodside allowed him to work around the world on a variety of drilling projects. In 2007 he returned to Scotland and founded Merlin ERD Limited, which has become the industry leader in complex drilling. Based in Perth, Scotland, Merlin ERD provides expertise in Extended Reach Drilling technologies. These allow production from reservoirs up to 15 km from the rig-site, whilst reducing risk, time, cost and environmental impact. The methodology is applicable for any deviated well and is proven to reduce costly drilling problems. Under Iain’s leadership, Merlin ERD has collected a range of accolades for their work, including Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Best Small Company and the pinnacle of UK business success: two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.  Iain has also built a Spitfire replica which he enjoys flying over Scotland.

Iain shared the story of Merlin ERD from the beginning of one man, a laptop, and the kitchen table to a multi-million-pound business which is majority owned by employees. He explained his reasons for starting a business, why he chose Perth as his base, and his business model of a small number of employees and many consultants. In 2014, Merlin ERD received its first Queen’s award for enterprise and only a year later the market collapsed. The company survived a recession and went on to receive its second Queen’s award. Iain shared his tips for success including: be focused on the result you want to achieve; be innovative; energy and enthusiasm come before skill and confidence; shoot for the stars not only the moon; like Scouts Be prepared; get some help; winning is the result not the objective; expect people to have a shelf life; and how you do anything is how you do everything, do the small things well.

The audience enjoyed the interactive talk, which was chaired by Dr. Xiaoyi (Shawn) Mu.

(By Loyola Karobwa, Jocyline Omondi, Mahmud Sulugambari)