Oil Production Software: How to Best Prime Your Money Pump

Over the last few years, the oil patch has experienced technological advancements that have made it easier for Engineers to manage their wells, Accounting to manage its books, IT to manage its servers, and even owners and partners to manage their cash flow and health of their business.

However, how has oil and gas software helped the frontline pumper? It hasn’t.

Most E&P software does not work for the folks in the field. It creates work for pumpers. It creates admin tasks for pumpers. Quite simply, it takes pumpers away from pumping.

In fact, field data capture software has been so ineffective that many folks in the field simply refuse to use it. Organizations suffer from field data gathering adoption issues. And as a result, the original value propositions for which the oil and gas data management software has become compromised due to incomplete or sloppily kept production data.

How should operators respond to this issue? Should oil field software adoption be avoided altogether? Should operators simply let pumpers “do their thing”?

Absolutely not.

Software for the oil and gas industry represents an enormous opportunity for gains in efficiencies and profit.

That said, to be effective, oil field software solutions need to be approached in the right way. There are two parts to this equation: the leveraging of your pumpers and the engagement of your pumpers.

That said, how do modern oil and gas software applications better leverage the pumper?

By accelerating the pumper’s ability to quickly key in production data, we free up time for more important activities such as preventative maintenance and roustabouting. Also, by eliminating data entry errors by checking a pumper’s entries against historical info, the folks in the office no longer have to (1) to scan field data for mistakes, (2) follow up with pumpers to ask about erroneous info, or (3) keep bad info from being uploaded to the company’s centralized production system.

The pumper may be the only person to visit a wellsite all day, all week, and in some cases, all year. That said, it’s not just field data capture we’re after….

By giving your pumpers access to the historical production information, production graphs, commentary, and well history while on site in the field, engage your pumper with your production assets. When pumpers are engaged, not only are operational problems with the well quickly identified, but also they’re able to quickly reveal when production is falling, a well needs pulling, or there’s an opportunity to increase production.

As a result, pumpers can engage their wells with the most helpful information at the most helpful time.

Now, let’s turn to the second part of our efficiency equation: how well-designed oil and gas software applications better engage the pumper…

One of the most time-consuming steps of managing oil and gas production is simply gathering and compiling the production data from your pumpers in the field. For any of you who have had to contact a pumper to track down a missing run ticket or request a late production report, you know how time consuming it can be.

Some operators attempt to streamline this gauge sheet or gauge report process by installing pc terminals from which pumpers can share at the field house.

Unfortunately, these efforts typically yield bad production data, as data entry errors arise when pumpers are forced to transfer this production data from written notes to the terminal at the end of the day (pumper stream of consciousness: “hmmmm now was that well #43 or well #34….”)

In the past, many organizations forced upon pumpers oil and gas production software that ran on a palm pilot or laptop, which enabled their field operators with the ability to enter production info while onsite. Sadly, the majority of these solutions were built by oil and gas software companies who got their start in the late 90s by programmers who simply didn’t understand the oil field.

How many palm pilots did you own? If you’re like most people, the answer is ‘none’.

Sadly, most pumpers resort to punch-in sessions once they return home which eliminates any benefit the operator may have gained by enabling the pumper to put their information in on location. Also, when left to his own devices, many pumpers simply pass this duty off to someone who has never even visited the wellsite (a wife, son, or nephew…) further increasing the likelihood of introducing errors into your data…

And who can blame them? The time investment needed to submit this information and make it to all their wells each day and also deal with any issues that may arise is unsustainable.

Side note: When using palm pilots, daily production report template excel sheets, or other laptop software, it can take a full hour each day to log a 40 well route. Using the GreaseBook, entering 40 wells takes less than 12 seconds per well (that’s less than 8 minutes for an entire 40 well route!)

And, by keeping the pumpers from fat-fingering data, notifying him when he’s entered negative production or something doesn’t look quite right.

Deliver clean data to the folks in the office and free up more time for him to focus on his route? Now, that’s leveraging your pumper! Clean data. Less admin work for the folks in-house. More time pumping.

How (good) Oilfield Software Solutions Simply Create Better Pumpers…

Once information is entered by a pumper at the wellsite, the information is available to anyone with the proper access to see that information. For example, a production engineer, supervisor, owner, partner, or any other pumper that visits that site.

And, if a particular pumper ever quits, gets fired, retires, or simply walks away, all the information he’s captured can now be shared with a new pumper from which he can review and ultimately work.

For example, let’s say one of your pumper turns 65 years old and is quickly approaching retirement. You’ve hired a very responsible, highly motivated pumper to take his place.

You’ve planned for this transition, your new pumper has even done a month’s worth of ride along with the pumper who is soon to retire. Now, during her second week on the job, it’s time for simple maintenance of the pumping unit.

While sipping her Coca-Cola at the supply store, she stands before a wall of a dozen lubricants of various weights, with different additives, available in tubes, buckets, and other styles of containers…

She knows from her experience that for each application at the well site, a limited number of lubricants will be appropriate to use (and dammit, she knows only one of these lubricants is truly suitable…)

Your old lease pumper couldn’t remember each type of lubricant that was required and where it was to be used (and thus had it written in his personal paper notebooks which left with him…) How can we expect our new gal to know the right one?!

Now, had the original pumper been given the proper application with which to work, the new pumper could be assured of using the correct type and amount of lubricant from a simple search on her mobile device. She’d even have known when the equipment was last lubricated and will next require changing!

And, this new star pumper will even be able to avoid mixing lubricants that aren’t compatible with each other to boot! THAT is running a damn fine operation, all courtesy of (good) oil and gas software.

But, it doesn’t stop with lubricants…

How about which electrical fuses are used on the lease? What are their sizes, current ratings, and location? Is the pumping unit gear- or chain-drive? Which direction does the freakin’ motor turn? What size plate is needed in the orifice meter to test that problem well? How many of each type and length of belt are needed? Can substitute belts be used? Will another size fit and, if yes, what length? How many sheave grooves are available for belts? Shit, what size, quality, and quantity of rod packing is needed? Gosh, was more oil per day produced this month or last? Three months ago? Six months ago? (Curse! Slam fist on dash board! Turn up music and roll down windows to try and relax….)

Hundreds of thousands of oil wells have been producing for the better part of 50 years (some much longer). Many of these wells will outlive your pumper. And, despite the availability of cost-effective and simple petroleum software, it’s amazing how few operators take this approach.

Without a properly maintained lease records book, the experienced operator knows he’s basically operating blind while performing the testing and daily duties at the well. Our new pumper is not in a verifiable position to reach precise reasons for lowered production, and part of the ability to know when there is a problem is lost until there is a production failure.

As you well know, production failures equal downtime. Downtime equals loss of cash flow. Loss of cash flow opens the producer to all sorts of issues (namely job security for the folks in-house).

Given the proper records, the pumper is able to alert the supervisor about a lease problem, rather than vice versa.

How’s that for “creating a better pumper”?!

Engage the Pumper

The most resilient operators use appropriate field data gathering apps to inform the pumper when any of these events occur. As a result, our pumper can jump in immediately, working toward the best interests of the operator as demonstrated by their actions. Our pumper should be aware, be watchful, be observant. This is useful to the operator. This approach yields a much stronger organization, leveraging the pumper to her full capacity.

The whole idea behind systematized, daily oil reporting forms is the accurate logging of activity. Failure to do so means no historical trail of engagement with each production asset. It also means no evidence for the field supervisor to see that the pumper has actually visited the wellsite.

Unfortunately, traditional oil software does not make logging activity easy.

Side note: GreaseBook employs an app to automate much of this entire process. The pumper should simply inform the app that he’s ready to enter his info. From there, the app cues up the route in order which the pumper works it. The app shows the production history in graph form so the pumper can quickly absorb it and get ready to engage in a helpful way. The app auto-populates the date and time of entry. If no internet connection exists, the app should automatically log the gauge and send it automatically once the pumper regains connection.

There is no gauge fudging. There is no pencil whipping of production reports. There is no sloughing it off on the nearest family member. Now there is almost zero admin work. The app is working for the pumper. The pumper is 100 percent focused on what he does best: pumping oil.

Automated Reporting with Oil & Gas Software

Pumpers strapped-with-an-app not only create cleaner data for the folks in-house and more quantifiable and rewarding experience for pumpers in the field, but this automated collection of critical data is also needed to manage operations and the broader company.

Dates are auto-populated. Syncing takes place automatically. Pumpers can work offline with no internet connection…

By implementing technology that actually helps the pumper, adoption rises and, in turn, the integrity of the data becomes far more accurate. Foremen and field supervisors gain increased visibility into the answers to the following questions: What’s the history of the well. What is normal production? What kind of scale and paraffin accumulation does it have? What type of formation is the well producing from? How tight is it? We have a large pump moving liquid quickly — is this the best way? We have a small pump moves liquid slowly — is this the best way? What type of drive to we have? Type of reservoir? Frequency of pump repairs? Strokes per minute of the pumping unit? What’s the setting of tubing perforations in relation to the casing perforations? How’s our flow line back pressure against the formation?

As production engineers and operations managers back at the office must take a more strategic less tactical viewpoint, they gain increased visibility into the answers to the following questions: How did the lease do this month? Are any wells declining in production? Which wells need productivity tests? Which wells are having pump problems? Do any wells have a tubing problem? Is it time to treat and stimulate the reservoir? Which wells are developing higher wellhead pressure? Are higher casing pressures lowering production?

Admins are able to reconcile monthly oil sales and produce State reports in minutes.

And partners, owners, and management are quickly able to assess the overall health of the company, average production rates, reward performance, better manage their cash flow, and better plan for the future.

Most importantly, all of these parties have gained increased visibility without placing any additional burden on the pumpers. The data is accurate, and the data capture process is nearly automated. And oh, does it hurt so good.

To Recap:

● Historically, oil and gas production software has been built for management, not the pumper. This technology does not work for pumpers. Instead, it creates work for pumpers.

● Operators should strive to adopt oil and gas software that both leverges the pumper’s time and further engages the pumper.

● (Good) oil and gas production software creates better pumpers by capturing and creating a shared database from which your pumpers (new and old) can work.

● (Well designed) Oil and gas production software enables operators to leverage pumpers by eliminating admin tasks and automating data capture, freeing up the pumper to pursue more important tasks.

● Oil and gas production software for the pumper in the end benefits the company with more accurate reporting to run the operations and the business.

Original article can be seen viewed here: New Oil and Gas Production Software (makes it hurt so good…)

As an Operator, would it be helpful to have more timely, descriptive, and accurate production reports from your pumpers in the field?

Pumpers, after finishing your route are you tired of putting together your production reports and sending in those sales and service tickets?

If so, check out GreaseBook to see how hundreds of Operators (and thousands of Pumpers) are using a simple mobile app to help streamline their reporting!