The Drilldown

Richard & John Spears answer your questions and discuss the oilfield services business. The Spears brothers have a combined 75+ years as leading industry experts and are prized speakers for events all across the globe. The Drilldown will visit all topics in the oilfield services and equipment and discuss industry current events. 

New episode every Monday. Got a question? Send it to drilldownshow@gmail.com

Episode 48

How Did 2017 Turn Out for 5 Markets and 5 Companies?

We compare 2017 with 2016 to look at the change in revenue in five equipment and service markets and discuss how this impacted revenue growth for five “bellwether” oilfield service companies.

Episode 47

The Day the Oilfield Changed

In 2018, we’re introducing The Day the Oilfield Changed, a series that reviews technical breakthroughs or commercial developments that fundamentally altered the nature of the upstream petroleum industry. In this initial episode we discuss how the creation of drilling “mud” enabled the discovery of the Spindletop field 117 years ago this week and initiated the Gulf Coast oil and gas industry.

Episode 46

Five Predictions for 2018

With 2017 now in the books, Richard and John start the new year with five bold predictions for the coming year. Will Brent oil futures exceed $65 at the end of 2018? What will North American frac sand demand total in 2018?

Episode 45

The Rising Cost of Failure (rerun)

We revisit one of our more popular episodes where we discuss how longer laterals are raising the stakes. In this look back, let's see where we were right and where we were wrong. Failure comes at an increasing cost and is changing how operators work with contractors. Richard & John dive deep into the psychology of "operator incentive" and how contractors will be responding as wells get bigger.

Episode 44

Top 3 Oilfield Stories of 2018

Richard and John address three issues expected to emerge in the coming year which will likely have a significant impact on post-2018 activity.  The range of the discussion includes: What is a “bubble point”?; “backwardization” in the futures market; and the cost of rail transport.

Episode 43

Holiday Gift Ideas

Black Friday has come and gone, and you still need to ideas for stocking–stuffers for your family and friends. Knowing that nothing provides the joy and satisfaction that comes from watching a Hollywood classic, Richard and John count down their top 10 list of favorite oil-centric movies. 

Episode 42

Cementing Services

The global cementing services market has increased ~50% in 2017 due to the increase in footage drilled across the US and Canada. Yet, we find cementing isn’t always a huge topic of conversation. In this podcast we discuss the important purpose of cementing jobs, describe how they are performed and the materials involved.

Episode 41

Lease Operating Expenses

While breakeven costs drive new field development, lease operating expenses (LOEs) drive well abandonment. In this podcast we identify the components of LOEs and compare and contrast lifting costs for vertical and horizontal wells.

Episode 40

The Ups and Downs of Laterals

An emerging issue in the US oilpatch is the set of completion and production problems created by long, crooked laterals. In this podcast we discuss how prioritizing ROP (rate of penetration) over wellbore trajectory can result in increased inefficiencies in stimulation, wireline, coiled tubing and artificial lift operations.

Episode 39

Rate, Density, and Time

Active horsepower and proppant volume typically are the two ways used to gauge the condition of the frac service industry. In this podcast we discuss the disconnect that has emerged between these two metrics since 2014; one shows robust growth while the other indicates no change. What’s going on?

Episode 38

Oilfield Inflation Trends

US land drilling activity peaked and then declined slightly during Q3 2017 as operators adjusted their capex budgets in light of softening oil prices. But what was happening in the regions and market segments where oilfield inflation was still rising in the third quarter?

Episode 37

Profitability Isn’t What It Used To Be

Although activity is up sharply this year, oil service firms have yet to see their profitability return to the pre-2015 levels that investors expect.  In this podcast we discuss how the “lower-for-longer” mindset driving the focus on efficiency is shifting the oil service industry discussion from “return on sales” to “return on assets”.

Episode 36

Who’s #1?

Thousands of equipment and service firms participate in one or more of the many different market segments that comprise the upstream sector of the global petroleum industry.  In this podcast we tell you which firm is currently the market share leader in each of 32 segments, as documented in our Oilfield Market Report.

Episode 35

Questions From the Field

With 2017 now mostly in the books, attention is shifting to issues that might impact the oilpatch over the mid-to-long-term. We're answering questions like: When will the rate of oilfield inflation slow down?  When will offshore activity start growing again? Why is Unit Manufacturing the most volatile of all the OFS market segments?

Episode 33

Well Intervention

Well intervention is a term that has different meanings for drilling, completion, and production operations.  In this podcast we discuss one of the segments of the well intervention market, the rental and fishing services sector, its drivers, and its main tools.

Episode 32

Frac Flowback Services

Demand for all types of completion-related services has jumped sharply this year in response to the recovery in US drilling activity.  In this podcast we discuss specifically the use of flowback services in hydraulic fracturing operations, and how it is affecting the market.

Episode 31

Hurricane Harvey and the E&P Supply Chain

Texas and Louisiana have only just begun to recover from the devastating effects of hurricane Harvey.  In this podcast we discuss its impact on the E&P supply chain and how that might affect activity in the US and around the world.

Episode 30

Clues To Where Activity Is Headed

After having risen for 14 consecutive months, US rig count has stalled in recent weeks in response to sub-$50 oil prices. In this podcast we discuss the clues that appear to indicate where activity is headed over the near term.

Episode 29

Changing of the Guard

The generational change taking place in oil companies and oil service firms, as more and more Millennials find their way inside, is disrupting the traditional sales process in the US oilpatch.  In this podcast we discuss prior relationship-based selling practices and today’s data-centric approach.

Episode 28

Why the Land Department is Important

Shale resource development has made lease acquisition a key factor to the success of many oil and gas companies.  In this podcast we contrast and compare past leasing practices to current operations. How has extended-reach drilling impacted leasing? How do operators keep lease acquisition costs manageable?

Episode 27

Cased Hole Wireline Services

Demand for all types of completion-related services has soared in response to the recovery in US drilling activity that has taken place this year.  In this podcast we discuss the use of cased hole wireline units in completion and production operations, with a specific focus on their use in hydraulic fracturing operations.

Episode 26

What We're Hearing From the Field

The story of this year’s recovery in the US oilpatch is well-documented; less well known is how current practices are testing this generation of drilling and completion equipment to the limit.  In this podcast we discuss what we’re hearing about failure rates for MWD tools, limits of coiled tubing units, and other problems. 

Episode 25

What Can the Oilfield Learn from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders?

While a wellsite and a football sideline might seem to be quite different, in this podcast we compare the skills each needs in terms of planning, focus and teamwork to get the job done right. 

Episode 24

How are key acquisitions impacting the market?

This episode, we talk about the artificial lift market and evaluate technology trends in this sector. Who are the leading players? How much of the market is associated with rod-lift systems? Also how some key acquisitions are impacting the market.

Episode 23

What is in short supply this summer of '17? 

In this episode we identify some of the important shortages that have emerged as US drilling activity has more than doubled over the past year and discuss why these bottlenecks have occurred and how they are impacting project timing.

Episode 22

Frac Service Revenues: Days of Future Passed?

In this podcast, we discuss why the revenues of frac service firms continue to lag behind earlier levels, even though physical measures of US frac activity (i.e., stage count, proppant volume) are poised to exceed the 2014 peak.

Episode 20

How much drilling happens at $45 oil?

In this podcast, we discuss the short term outlook for oil prices and US drilling, the most important factors impacting activity going forward, and questions regarding resources and ramp up for producers.

Episode 19

Technology Adoption in the Drilling Industry

This episode is a primer for future discussions about new technology in the oil and gas business. Richard & John discuss the factors that determine technology adoption and the industry's history, particularly with regards to rotary steerable technology. Produced by Charlie Spears.


Episode 12

We don't care about efficiency and neither should you.

Counterintuitively, the most important factor for we well these days is not drilling efficiency but rather, recovery rate. We have to get pretty detailed on this one, so strap in and listen to John's breakdown of why this is. Also, we've got something for all those Metallica fans out there!


Episode 11

A bbl of monkeys!

12 Questions in 17 minutes! This week we address the gamut of questions asked us over the weekend. Topics include: New vs old wells, Drilling Fluids Profitability, "Pressure Pumping" vs "Fracking", Rotary Steerable Directional Drilling, "TD", and more! Also, John gives a fascinating & unexpected answer to where the abbreviation "bbls" comes from - it's not what you'd expect!


Episode 10

How much proppant do we use these days?

Richard & John talk proppant. Where the market is growing, the size of that market, and how the sand gets to market. Unit trains and minor league soccer also discussed! John also impresses us with some quick mental math.


Episode 9

What is OneSTIM & is it a game-changer?

Everyone's talking about OneSTIM. The Spears evaluate horsepower, downhole tools, competition, and the relationship between Schlumberger & Weatherford. Richard & John both come to the same conclusion this week!


Episode 8

How did Q1 2017 perform?

Richard & John discuss what the first quarter of 2017 will look like. Land is recovering, offshore still down. 


Episode 7

The Rising Cost of Failure

Multiple pad drilling + longer laterals mean the stakes are rising. Failure comes with an increasing cost and is changing how operators work with contractors. Richard & John dive deep into the psychology of "operator incentive" and how contractors will be responding as wells get bigger. Episode sponsored by Oilfield Logix. 


Episode 6

How much water does the oil & gas industry use?

We talk volume, method, and outlook for various sectors of the oilfield equipment and services water business. ~95% of water is used in the completion, fracking process and only ~5% on the drilling side. Episode sponsored by Oilfield Logix.


Episode 5

Longer laterals

Horizontal wells laterals are getting longer across the U.S. Why is that? What do the next few years look like? Richard & John talk about the history of horizontal drilling in the U.S. and the significance of the changing market in 2017. Sponsored by Oilfield Logix, an well construction data mining company.


Episode 4

What is oilfield inflation & how fast is it growing?

Richard & John discuss price inflation of oilfield services and equipment. What affects the cost of drilling? How do we measure it? What can we expect in 2017?


Episode 3

The Permian Basin

The Spears discuss outlook for the Permian, an exciting play in a boring part of Texas. Richard has a novel way to measure the state of the market and John gets a perfect score on the "lightning round".


Episode 2

How big is the frac market & what does the future hold?

Richard & John discuss the hydraulic fracturing market in North America. How big is it? How do we measure it? What does the next 24 months look like for domestic fracking?


Episode 1

What Is A Drilling Rig & How Do We Forecast Drilling Activity?

Richard & John Spears answer your questions about the oilfield services market. This episode we discuss drilling rigs & drilling activity.