Serving the Oilfield
Since 1965

History of the Firm

Serving the Oilfield since 1965: By Richard Spears, Vice President.

In 1965, Robert Spears, armed with a $10,000 inheritance and a strong background in industrial market research, left the safety of a large industrial advertising agency to launch a boutique market research firm in the family's garage in Tulsa, Oklahoma. By 1970, the Arab-led oil embargo sent oil prices sky high and creating a scramble around the world for different, safer supplies of oil. This scramble created a need by countries and non-energy industry companies for direction and advice on how to participate in the burgeoning demand for oilfield equipment and service. This rapid globalization of the oilfield equipment and service market established the foundation for Spears & Associates, which abandoned all other industries at that point to focus on the oilfield and its 30 key customers.

By the late 'Seventies, the firm employed 30 people and was actively conducting market surveys throughout the US, Canada, UK and Norway, with occasional client work in Italy, France and Japan. Clients numbered about 100, including Halliburton, Baker Oil Tools, Hughes, Dowell, Rolls Royce and Caterpillar. During this drilling boom, Robert's two sons graduated from engineering school and MBA programs and found 'real' jobs - “ John as a management consultant in Detroit, Richard as a field engineer for Halliburton. The collapse of the US drilling industry, along with Robert's health problems, brought John and Richard back to Tulsa by the mid-Eighties, teaming together to help the struggling firm in the struggling oil and gas sector survive the 10 year becalming of the industry. Robert returned to health, the industry finally stabilized and the firm puttered along conducting nuts and bolts market research for a handful of loyal oilfield service company customers like FMC, Cooper, Cameron and Schlumberger.

With John Spears' return to the firm, Spears launched its version of a drilling forecast to compete with the major consulting firms' offerings. The Drilling and Production Outlook was first published as an annual report in 1982 and quickly became a quarterly service. By 1990 all other commercial drilling forecasting services had abandoned the market and the DPO's client base grew. Now in its 32nd year, the DPO is the primary planning tool of most oilfield service companies around the world, plus a host of oil companies, steel mills and investors.

In January 1992 the Bush Administration invited 100 American oil and gas executives to meet with 100 Russian oilmen in the city of Tyumen in Western Siberia. On that trip, Richard Spears met representatives of the World Bank and of Morgan Stanley. As one of the few oilfield engineers on the trip, Richard explained to the bankers how the Russian equipment worked, how to tell if a well was producing and how aspects of the Soviet economic system had created the problems the Russian oilfield now faced. These meetings led to Richard helping lead the World Bank's mission to Russia while John assisted Morgan Stanley in creating an oil-for-equipment countertrade with one of the Siberian oil companies. This was the firm's introduction to the financial world surrounding the oil and gas industry.

In the mid-'Nineties, the firm's work in Russia, along with the retirement of our founder, caused Spears & Associates to hire Kurt Minnich, the firm's first true petroleum engineer and a veteran of major international oil companies. Kurt's work around the world helped the firm build its consulting business to governments and oil companies who were trying to size up opportunities in rapidly emerging markets. Kurt was made a full partner within a few years and the trio of John, Richard and Kurt led the company for almost 20 years.

Also in the mid-'Nineties, at the request of FMC, Spears developed a report that sized up ten oilfield equipment and service markets, estimating market share and market size within each market. For thirty years Spears had been taking snapshots of oilfield, but this engagement alerted the firm to a potential widespread desire for a regularly updated unbiased measuring of the entire oilfield equipment and service sector. In 1999 the firm officially launched the Oilfield Market Report, hoping to sell the annual service to the top 20 oilfield service companies. Instead, the financial sector discovered that the OMR brought transparency to companies, product lines and technologies. One-hundred plus institutional investors, sell-side analysts and private equity firms quickly found their way to Tulsa and engaged the firm's services. The firm's M&A work took off. Soon, oil companies found unique ways to use the analysis. The firm's core group of oilfield equipment and service company clients became dwarfed by the swelling ranks of financial firms and other energy companies.

In 2004 Spears made a direct investment in an oilfield service company as part of an M&A engagement. The firm's partners liked the product lines, the management team and the private equity firm making the acquisition. Spears' partners had made investments in oil and gas deals and in minor oilfield service companies in the past, but this marked the first one where the firm also took a board seat and became a significant director of a major firm. Partners of the firm hold, or have held, several board seats in private oilfield service companies. To avoid conflicts of interest, during the life of an investment, we do not provide consulting services in that market.

Around 2005 Spears acquired Pipe-Logix from its founder, Charlie Perkins. Charlie had been gathering and reporting OCTG prices for 25 years and wished to retire and travel. Kurt Minnich took over the responsibility of gathering, analyzing and reporting prices, adding demand reports, drivers, forecasts and line pipe estimates. Over the next several years, Kurt expanded the client list to several hundred. Today the various Pipe-Logix reports are used for global pipe procurement price agreements, government trade referees, steel mill design planning and oilfield service company cost indexing. In 2013, Kurt Minnich bought 100% of Pipe-Logix and now runs the company independent of Spears & Associates.

In 2008 Spears launched the Drilling & Completion Cost Service, a quarterly service that tracks the cost of drilling and completing wells by basin across the US. This service has been adopted by the major oil and gas companies to benchmark and estimate the cost to drill around the country. John Spears is heading that initiative.

Also in 2008 Spears launched the Oilfield Market Intelligence service, which supplies oil companies, service companies and other major investors with unique, immediate market analysis on oilfield companies, product lines, markets and technology trends.

In 2013, an independent oilfield data mining company was launched called Oilfield Logix, LLC. Frustrated with the costs and limitations of other well data sources, OFL’s team gathers hundreds of data points on tens of thousands of wells in the US each year, focusing on how the wells are drilled and completed, along with who is doing the work. Spears contracted with Oilfield Logix, turning their raw, well specific data into US land regional oilfield equipment & service market analysis reports – the Oilfield Logix series.

Now in our 50th year, Spears is grateful for our 400+ active clients who span the globe. We remain focused on a single industry - the oilfield equipment and service market. This industry has provided our families with gainful employment and limitless opportunities for several generations, with the promise of several more to come. We are thankful for companies like Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Cameron who have been clients for all 50 years of our firm's existence. We are thankful for the talented people who have joined with the Spears brothers. We are also thankful for the new clients who find us every week of the year. We hope we are today providing the same quality service that Robert Spears established in the garage behind our house in 1965.