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Small firms in big league

Two of the world’s leading technology companies have joined small local firms to market major products developed here, confirming the way in which the State’s resource industries generate expertise.

Amadeus Petroleum, a Perth-based company with small but profitable oil interests in Texas, has acquired a new shareholder, Honeywell Computers, a part of the General Electric empire, and a leader in providing information technology to mining and oil companies.

GE is the sixth biggest company in the US, and Honeywell is a leader in its specialised IT field.

In another move, which indicates the high level of technical innovation here, the US industrial group Halliburton Energy Services has formed an alliance with the mining and construction services company SDS Corporation, to market a new drilling system, the fluid hammer, which could save the oil and mining industries millions of dollars. Halliburton, one of the leaders in the engineering field in the US, will provide outlets for the new system in the US, Canada, Central America and the Middle East.

Amadeus, showing some courage, picked up interests in a number of small Texas oil fields some years ago, when oil prices were low, but operating costs in that region were also modest.

It has built up its production to the point where it now receives the income from 207,000 barrels of oil a year, small by the standards of the Middle Eastern fields or even some in Australia, but providing Amadeus with healthy returns.

The participation of Honeywell will open up opportunities, and the two will pursue opportunities in technology, particularly in Australian electricity utilities. As part of the agreement, Amadeus will issue to Honeywell 10 million share options, and the two will form a close technical alliance.

They have revealed that they have two advanced projects under review in renewable and alternative energy, and power distribution.

The two came together after Honeywell discovered that they were working on the same concept to develop a land fill methane gas project.

Honeywell has worked for years for Woodside Petroleum, Alcoa and Worsley Alumina.

Both arrangements have a David and Goliath element.

The fluid hammer, driven by fluid instead of compressed air, can complete exploration and development holes two to three times faster than conventional drills, and given the cost of leasing exploration rigs, hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, could save millions of dollars on one well.

The fluid drill was developed by SDS Corporation, and has undergone trials for some years. Although SDS is registered in Adelaide, the factory producing the fluid drill bits is in Canning Vale, and is to be expanded.

Its board is expected to raise between $5 million and $10 million in private placements, part of which will fund this growth in production.

Halliburton closely tested the system before agreeing to help market it throughout the world.

Both arrangements have a David and Goliath element, with Honeywell having a value of about $A35 billion, Halliburton earning more than $A20 billion, and with 100,000 employees worldwide.

It is said to be the biggest company in the world in energy services and equipment, engineering, construction and maintenance.

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