Yes, Even for Russian Innovation, Nature Always Finds a Way!

Fracking blast
By Pat Davis Szymczak, March 6, 2015

“Nature will always find a way.” I love that quote. It’s from the movie Jurassic Park. Scientists genetically engineer dinosaurs, which the scientists say cannot reproduce in the wild. The creatures are all female.

Then things start happening: big eggs, baby dinosaurs, more big eggs, more baby dinosaurs – enough to bite and claw through two more sequels of the original film. The message is, no matter how harsh the environment, living things struggle to find new ways to survive and grow.

And so it is with business innovation. The entrepreneurial spirit is a living thing and no amount of red tape, domestic or foreign; small mindedness, domestic or foreign; political insanity (quite cosmic these days) can keep a good idea down – even good ideas that come out of Russia.

In November, OGE featured on its cover an interview with Nikita Ageev, CEO of Novas Energy Services – scientist engineer, entrepreneur, businessman, visionary, you name it. Let’s just say, that Ageev’s greatest asset is that he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t take “no” for an answer.

It all started when Ageev and his colleagues launched a small Russian business after developing a waterless “plasma-pulse” tool for secondary fracking. Novas built its business around a niche EOR technology, an alternative to well abandonment after an already water-fracked well begins to decline. And it’s clean – there is no pumping the well full of acid to keep it on stream. Great idea, right? Try getting a great idea field tested in Russia. For Russian producers, “risk sharing” isn’t part of their business vocabulary.

So Ageev networked his way to the Houston Technology Center through HTC’s connections with Skolkovo. In Houston, he found open-minded North American partners who tested the tool on wells in West Texas, got amazing results, and put Novas on the map. Though its roots and technology are Russian, only 10 percent of Novas’ revenue comes from the Motherland.

As for where Novas is headed: enter Propell Technologies Group, Inc., which wholly owns Novas Energy USA and is the exclusive U.S. licensee of Novas’ plasma pulse technology. Marketwired reported in February that Propell closed the first tranche of a private financing packaging with Ervington Investments Limited, whose ultimate beneficial owner is businessman Roman Abramovich.

See? You might think that the ideas of Russian entrepreneurs are forever doomed to slow strangulation by control freaks and dim-witted bureaucrats (let’s face it they go way back, just a 19th century Russian novel), but as I said at the start of this editorial – nature does always find a way. Lest we forget, Abramovich fracked his way to the top, building Sibneft into Russia’s second most prolific crude producer in terms of pace of output growth (second only to YUKOS) in the 1990s. Sibneft was later acquired by Gazprom Neft.

I’d say, Abramovich knows a good deal when he sees one.

Propell raised $5 million in this first tranche, selling 1.5 million shares of its Series C Preferred Stock (Series C Preferred)