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Calgary’s Next Economy: Sikwell solving oil and gas tracking troubles

It was always Camille Markarian’s goal to build her own company.

For 12 years she worked in heavy industry – particularly in oil and gas. Markarian spent time on the oil platforms in the North Sea and one of the things that struck her was the traceability of equipment.

“I decided to create a startup to solve these issues,” she said.

Makarian’s company, Sikwell, tracks components used in oil and gas discovery and drilling in a real time format. This electronic tracking allows companies to always have a handle on the whereabouts of their gear.

Companies already track their equipment manually, but that’s subject to human error, Markarian said.

“They do it manually with paper and pen. So, they lose a lot of time because they check multiple times to be sure that they don’t do any mistakes,” said Markarian.

“They do it but it’s very, it’s very painful for them.”

Electronic tracking would be an easy solution – you’d think

Right now, it’s often a manual process because having any electronic device in the area of the wells is a potential safety hazard.

With gas being vented and a nearby ignition source with a phone or tablet makes the area explosive.

Her technology was developed less than two years ago and is proprietary and therefore under wraps. Still, it’s a system that allows for real time tracking of the drilling process and the equipment involved.

From France to Calgary

Markarian came to Calgary with her product because of the oil and gas ecosystem. While the industry has dragged recently, there’s still a big connection to large oilfields across North America through this city.

While Markarian had technical expertise as an engineer working in various oil and gas technology roles, what she lacked was marketing and strategic business development experience.

She went to school for a year to learn about building a business so she would be better prepped to start her business.

“All of this was because my goal was to found my own company some day, and with only my technical background at first I didn’t feel that it would be possible,” she said.

Structure for the startup

That journey for more knowledge brought her to the Platform Calgary Junction program.

“I needed the structure to help me to know every step of this startup journey,” Markarian said.

She said the connection with advisers has been a huge benefit.

“It helps me with an outside eye on my project.”

That foundation will help Markarian launch the project ahead. She wants to continue piloting her system on smaller projects, including onshore wells in North America.

She said the needs for onshore and offshore are very different and being flexible to work with both markets is important for knowledge and to work with different potential investors.

“You always need someone who’s willing to kind of innovate and take that risk with you,” Markarian said.