The core of our business has always been interacting with people in all areas of the petroleum industry. These conversations inform our understanding of and expectations for the upstream sector. No area is more important than following how the rapidly-evolving North American shale market is impacting technology use and business practices. As 2017 comes to a close, we’re sharing some of the year’s most insightful comments that we have heard on these topics:
January 2017 Young completions engineer: “I'm just now flying back from Midland where I was on a frac job on one of our two well pads. We've separated pumping services from sand and from chemicals. We did that to save everything we could during the downturn. I wonder if that is a truly sustainable business model (for us). I think frac service companies were glad to work at any price just to keep their equipment working, but as business gets better, that won't continue.”
March 2017 Major well servicing company: “All of our big well servicing rigs are working on completions of long laterals. 8000' laterals are driving customers (from coiled tubing units) to well servicing rigs.”
April 2017 Drilling group president: “With laterals >10,000', rotary steerable systems begin to have a distinct advantage over mud motors, which are required to slide to steer. This (sliding) creates both non-productive time during the drilling process AND it creates a hole that has waves and several directional changes. With 5000' laterals this is no big deal, but at 15,000', it creates a huge problem.”
June 2017 Mud company: ”In the Permian Basin, when just vertical wells were drilled with "slop mud", anybody could be a mud company. But horizontal laterals of 2 miles and a LOT of OBM losses, the mud company has to have the ability to immediately deliver a LOT of mud for each well during the drilling process. This keeps a small mud company out of the game.”
August 2017 DJ Basin service companies: “All coiled tubing units are working today on drill outs. Wells that produce a lot of sand require stick pipe to rotate in and out. Coil will get key seated.”
September 2017 STACK operator: “Rotary steerable lets us drill a gun barrel hole. The issue is cost of the rotary steerable. We use the RS in fast drilling areas but struggle to make it work in the Arkoma. The issue in the Arkoma is the structure - lots of ups and downs. I would think the Sprayberry and Wolfcamp would work well for RS as it drills fast as does the Eagle Ford.”
October 2017 Drilling engineer: “Out in the Permian we have a super pad that we add about 16 wells to every year or so. We use two different drilling contractors and one directional driller. It only takes 8 days to drill each well to TD. We drill all the surface pipes, then all the intermediate strings, then all the laterals. 8 days.
November 2017 Major oil company VP: “There are 2 tiers to MWD. The high tier is dominated by the big-4 and is characterized by high bandwidth mud pulse utilized in deep water applications. The lower tier is a commodity MWD market populated by independent DD/MWD companies utilizing off-the-shelf technology. The land market mostly uses mud pulse as well but uses lower bandwidth. EM telemetry is making inroads in market penetration and is elevating the data rate.”
December 2017 Frac service company: “70% of the sand coming from mines in the Permian opening in 2018 will be 100 mesh or smaller. Not good quality at all, but enough to satisfy the demand. We've got customers who are trying 4000 and 5000 lbs of sand per foot of hole.”
Pay attention, sometimes the biggest tips come from small comments by people who are actually doing the work.