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Spark Tanks' Generate New Technologies

Nov 15 2017 Be the first to comment!

'Shark' Keith Lynch Reviews Ideas Pitched by 'Sparks'

Most of us have viewed or are at least familiar with the tv series, Shark Tank. In a clever play on words, the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) Advanced Rig Technology (ART) Committee hosted three forums in 2017 called the Spark Tank. The IADC Spark Tanks are forums where new and developing technologies (“sparks”) are presented to a panel of operators and contractors (“sharks”), who provide feedback to the presenter. The purpose is to provide technology developers with insights on what is important to their prospective customers. Thirty minutes are allotted for each topic; 15 minutes for a pitch presentation then Q&A. ARCO Alumnus Keith Lynch was a ‘shark’ on August 2.

Keith chairs the Drilling Engineers Committee for IADC (formerly known as the Drilling Engineering Association, DEA, a group focused on facilitating JIPs for new drilling related technologies). He took over the role from Ben Bloys, Chevron, who is also a former ARCO colleague.

There is sometimes a vast disconnect between a good idea and a great product, and the Spark Tanks attempts to close that gap in a good-natured, productive manner,” IADC Group Vice President/Publisher Mike Killalea said of the Spark Tanks, which is his brain child.

“The Spark Tank has been fun for everybody” said Keith Lynch. “IADC sends out a meeting notice to attend the Spark Tank and see the technologies. We created an opportunity for ideas to be presented to drilling contractors and operators in a format like Shark Tank,” said Keith. “The presenters are people with an innovation or invention. They run the full spectrum, and might be entrepreneurs working in a garage, a small company looking to expand a product line, or major service companies pitching an idea. The next Spark Tank is December 6. See:

The goal is to offer an environment where new ideas are pitched that have not gotten traction elsewhere.

“Everyone thinks they have their own secret sauce to improve a product or service,” said Keith. 

The role of the “Sharks” is to assess the technologies discussed and offer advice on options to fund/promote the development and use.

The audience is a good cross-section of drilling contractors and operators. If someone in the audience likes a presentation, they can approach the presenters afterward. The role of the sharks is to offer advice, suggest whom to speak to, or how to further the technology. The sharks also point out any flaws they see. “It a classic free advice scenario where the inventor might make a connection and ultimately get an endorsement where someone pays for their technology,” said Keith.

A Wells Operations Advisor at ConocoPhillips in Houston, Keith does committee work with both the SPE and the DEC. “Like my work with SPE, the DEC efforts are meant to promote positive activity in the industry,” explained Keith. “ConocoPhillips encourages the technical staff to participate in this type- of professional organization involvment.”

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