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Cameron Archer
February 09, 2022

Data sharing becoming more important for oilfield chemical services

This blog is the fourth excerpt from The State of Oilfield Chemicals in 2022Each week, we'll release an additional excerpt as a blog. For those that want to read ahead, click the link above.




a dashboard showing data

Note: To produce this article, dozens of oilfield services stakeholders were interviewed. Due to the highly competitive nature of the oilfield services market, all were interviewed under the condition of anonymity. As such, all names have been fictionalized to preserve that anonymity.



In the event that Netflix, fast food, and social media haven’t made this completely apparent, let’s put it bluntly: Our culture expects instant gratification.


High-speed internet and mobile devices have spurred the greatest explosion of information availability in human history, and the result is that nearly anyone can meet their needs – whether for food, entertainment, or answers – within seconds.


Despite its tendency towards conservatism, the oil and gas industry hasn’t dodged the appetite for immediate satisfaction, especially as younger engineers join the workforce.


This reality has created new problems for oilfield chemical services companies, specifically around how they manage and share information with their customers.


“There’s been a shift from old school engineering,” reflected Logan, a VP at a chemical services company. “In the past, you just relied on your relationship with your account manager and trusted them to be a pro. The new school of engineers are very data-driven. Growing up, if they needed something, they could get online and Google it and they’ve got it in front of them immediately. So we’ve got to be able to provide data to them now because of that new school of thought.”


Dillon, a production engineer, is in his twenties and a representative of this “new school” of engineering. He unabashedly confirms this position.


“With us, chemical management is just super data-driven,” he said, “and all of that data goes into building a chemical program built on trust.”


For many operators, “trust” and “data” are becoming more and more synonymous. Dillon went on to offer a tongue in cheek directive: “In God we trust. All others must bring data.”


In God we trust.

All others must bring data.

- Dillon, Production Engineer



This cultural shift has created a new requirement for oilfield services companies: learn how to manage large amounts of data, and use that data to communicate value to your customers in real-time, or risk losing trust with your best accounts.


In addition to prescribing and sourcing specialty chemistries, providing lab and sampling services, and managing an in-field chemical program, oilfield chemical services now must become data managers, a burden of proof to attain and maintain market share.


Kevin, an Ops & Sales VP in oilfield chemicals, offered an idea borrowed from his CEO: “Traditionally, you had a three-legged stool in production chemicals. You had field services, you had products, and you had technical services. Now with the new engineers coming out of school, everything is real-time. So the fourth leg of the stool is going to be data management.”


As if oilfield chemical services companies didn’t have enough challenges balancing those three traditional legs, now they have a fourth to try and stabilize. And it seems that every one of them is beginning to undertake this project in earnest.


oilfield services technicians install automation for chemical tanks and pumps

An oilfield services field manager works with technology vendors to install tank level monitors, a common digital automation tool for oilfield chemical services companies in 2022.


Colton, an area manager who has taken on the role of “digital specialist” for his district, understands that the process is a journey. “Everybody is on a different part of the path to digital,” he said, “but, ultimately, everybody is going to have to do it.”


This reality is sinking in, or has already sunken in, for the modern oilfield chemical services company. Yet despite the additional workload this brings, many see an opportunity.


“It used to just be the service, the product, the application,” remarked Johnny, an account manager in the Delaware Basin. “Now it’s about quantifying everything, because everything is being looked at under a microscope.” But he didn’t shy away from the challenge, instead seeing the opportunity create additional value for his customers. “It’s a good thing. It makes the cream rise to the top.”


Kelly, another account manager in West Texas, echoed the sentiment. As a younger sales manager with only a few years of experience, she gets excited about the prospect of being more data-driven. “I do my best work when I’m looking at data,” she said, adding that she’s tired of the industry data sharing model built on Excel and emails. “I envision being able to run my account solely off of a dashboard.”


Kelly’s position may be unique to the younger generation of oilfield workers, but as Colton put it, data management is something everybody will have to engage with. “Putting all of the data in a central location and updating it automatically behind the scenes doesn’t take a great deal of time,” he said, “and it frees up a ton of time for our team.”


Traditionally, you had a three-legged stool: field services, products, and technical services. Now the fourth leg of the stool is data management.

- Kevin, Ops & Sales VP



The data systems and reporting tools do have the potential to free up time for account managers who may previously had to scour dozens of spreadsheets, emails, and grease books for answers, but implementing them doesn’t come without a cost.


“The sheer amount of data is challenging, when you think about all the well attributes you get from the operator, invoicing data, analytical and lab stuff, and then you start bringing in remote telemetry… there’s just a ton of data,” shared Colton. “Managing that data, getting good data in, and getting good data back out, is a huge pain.”


Complicating the matter is that there is as yet no accepted standard for how data should be shared. As one production engineer at a large independent put it, “Every RFP we put out includes the stipulation that data will be provided to us in a manner that is convenient to us. We just haven’t defined what convenient means.”


Tyson, a District Manager, made this issue very apparent. “I’ve got 38 different customers and 38 different dashboards that I have to build for each one,” he complained. “With one of our bigger customers, we plug the data into our internal view and then we go in and plug it into Power BI for them.” For a company seeking efficiency gains through digital tools, having to do double duty on premium accounts defeats the purpose.


Still, data management is the new reality, and oilfield services companies are now trying to wrangle IoT, automation, and cloud data services to maintain a path towards market share.


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