Vice Presidents, RD&E David Horsup and Jeff Montanye explain Nalco Champion’s unconventional approach to problem solving.


Today’s oil and gas industry leverages some of the latest state-of-the-art technologies to ensure the safe, reliable and profitable production and processing of hydrocarbon streams. Few industries require the level of sophistication and ingenuity that the petroleum industry implements every day in some of the most challenging environmental and geopolitical regions of the world. And few industries offer the excitement, technical challenge and opportunity that the petroleum industry provides. Success in this competitive marketplace demands staying abreast of technology developments and ensuring that technology portfolios are not just focused on solving today’s challenges, but are also proactively positioned to provide solutions
for tomorrow’s.

The challenges the industry faces today and will face tomorrow are significantly more complex and demanding than those of only a few years ago, and providing a cost-effective chemically engineered solution can make the difference between project viability and projects mired in the pre-financial investment decision (pre-FID) phase. Conventional approaches to these technical challenges are seldom effective. Viable solutions require a different way of thinking. They require the seamless integration of chemistry, automation, diagnostics and delivery. At Nalco Champion, our role is critical and clearly defined: enable our customers to meet their production, processing, profitability and sustainability targets.

We launched the “Think Differently, Act Differently” campaign in 2014 to help facilitate a cultural change, adapting our thinking to better develop solutions geared to the increasing complexity of our customer’s technical challenges. In many cases, solutions to problems in the petroleum industry may be found through exposure to other diverse industries. The field of innovation is littered with many such cross-pollination examples: e.g., nature’s cockleburs were the inspiration behind the first reusable adhesive — Velcro™.

We believe, and we’ve seen, that giving individuals license to explore solutions beyond their home territory can truly lead to disruptive innovation. In September, Nalco Champion hosted the second annual Solvers Symposium, a forum whereby key technical leaders, scientists and engineers from energy- and non-energy-related market segments share technical challenges they are experiencing with their work and look across the enterprise for solutions. In support of the “Think Differently, Act Differently” theme, we invited leading professionals from the aerospace and medical industry to participate. For more insight into how missions to Mars or cardiologists’ expertise provide unique insights into hydrocarbon production, transportation and processing challenges, we invite you to read “The New and Novel”.

In order to further accelerate the identification of the best available solution, we recently formed the Technology, Partnerships and Development Group chartered specifically with looking externally for solutions to major industry challenges. The group identifies opportunities for joint development, licensing or even acquisition. Furthermore, they leverage the power of crowd-sourcing to solicit technical solutions via global communities of problem solvers. Our recent investment in an energy-focused venture capital fund will provide a constant stream of promising technology companies that may have novel offerings that can be leveraged into the oil and gas space.

In addition to our strong external focus on new technologies, we also mine our extensive portfolio of in-house technologies across the breadth of Ecolab. We have already had great success in leveraging antimicrobial technologies in the food and beverage industry into the unconventional production marketplace, and we are exploring several additional cross-divisional technologies. Furthermore, we are developing new foundational technologies to benefit multiple industries through our core Anchor Technology Groups. A new environmentally friendly surfactant formulation that was developed for lipstick removal from wine glasses may well be effective in removing paraffin deposits in pipelines!

Nalco Champion is fortunate to provide solutions across the whole of the petroleum value chain — from the perfs to the pumps. Being proficient in looking both internally and externally across a diverse array of industries for potential solutions is critical to enabling the continued success of our industry. By thinking and acting differently, Nalco Champion challenges the current approach to problem solving and commits to identifying and delivering the best available solution to our customers.



Lifting, pushing, “taking and putting,” and climbing and carrying can lead to injury. Reduce your risk by modifying the workplace or the load, using mechanical equipment, using proper lifting technique or seeking help.
Presented at the Latin America Integration Workshop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.