- We will make the oil industry safer

The relatively young company METAS has already developed several advanced products for sale. In these days the award winner also awaits important test results from development projects that may greatly improve safety of future subsea operations.

Published: 18 June 2012

Strategic Location: On the seabed, just a few yards out from their office, CTO Terje Torkelsen and CEO Olav Birkeland regularly test new equipment.

Detecting leaks are key words for the two main development projects for the company that won NCE Subsea’s award, Upcoming Subsea Company of the Year 2012.

In addition to develop equipment that detects leaks from CO2 deposits on seabed, the prize winner, METAS has the highest expectations to their project, Alldog.

- In this project we develop equipment and software that alerts leaks from subsea installations. Here we are talking about detecting extremely small leaks. It is urgent to detect them, before they grow into bigger ones. Imagine if this type of technology had been available in the Gulf of Mexico for two years ago, says CTO, Terje Torkelsen.

The project is now in phase two where the technology hopefully will be verified. Although both Torkelsen and CEO, Olav Birkeland these days eagerly await the first results, they are confident that the technology based on advanced acoustics, will work well. The technology is developed from methods used for biomass monitoring.

Heavy players

Also the partners have expectations for the project. While CMR and HI contribute with research and Kongsberg with equipment components, Statoil is on the financing side.

The METAS-founders have great expectations for future market opportunities.

They are convinced that the government sooner or later will require monitoring of subsea operations.

Growing market

- It is unthinkable that future subsea installations for instance in Lofoten will be installed without monitoring, adds Torkelsen.

Birkeland says there are approximately 6,000 subsea wells in operation today. However in a few years one expects the number to increase to 18,000. He believes that new requirements will apply for the more recent subsea installations, as these will have the necessary capacity and quality of infrastructure.

Seeks new partners

- In order to secure a market share, we therefore want to commercialize the product as quickly as possible, says Birkeland.

Currently they are working eagerly to bring in investors and owners who can help to fund the commercialization of the product.

- We can certainly fund this by our own pocket, but it then will take longer time.

The potential for this technology goes beyond oil and gas industry.

- Now we're taking this technology into environmental monitoring, preferably in oil and gas. However, we see all marine industrial activities to be potential markets ahead, says Torkelsen.


Although the company already has received much positive feedback from industry and government, it feels surely nice also to get recognition from the subsea environment.

- We were pleasantly surprised by the award. We knew there were many good candidates out there, says Birkeland.

- It's nice to get confirmation that we are on the right track, Torkelsen states.

No environmental romance

The environmental organizations would probably also have given credit to METAS if they had known about their work. If METAS succeed, the equipment may greatly improve safety of future subsea operations.

- But since we at this stage mainly are engaged in research and development, it is natural to keep a low profile. Any honor will have to come later, says Torkelsen and ensures that they do not have a romantic attitude towards this.

- METAS is an environmental monitoring company, and we have a technical approach to what we do. By taking research results into the field of operation, we will make the oil industry safer, states Birkeland.

About Subsea Upcoming Company of the Year

The Award Subsea Upcoming Company of the Year was established by NCE Subsea and Sparebanken Vest in collaboration with the Underwater Technology Foundation, CONNECT Vest and BTO. METAS was given the award at a ceremony in Grieghallen on Wednesday 13 June, in conjunction with the Underwater Technology Conference.

The prize is awarded annually. To be considered for the award, the company must have products or services related to subsea technology. A jury considers the companies based on participation in learning processes, finance, technology, market opportunities, HSE, maturity og the company and future business potential.

The award consists of a work of art, a diploma and 80.000 NOK which can be used for development purposes in the company. In addition, the company owns the right to use “Subsea Upcoming Company of the Year” in their own marketing efforts.

The following companies were also nominated for the award;

  • Innovit AS
  • Keystone AS
  • ProAnalysis AS
  • Stormfjord AS