American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 57

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SpecialReport: Frac Tech

Innovations Streamline Completions
By Colter Cookson
For many completion companies and
tool designers, 2020 had a silver lining.
With fewer completions to support, service
companies could devote more time and
manpower to refining processes and generating new ideas.
Like the remodeling projects that
finally got finished or the puppies rescued
from shelters as people sought companionship, the innovations to emerge from
2020 will bring joy to the oil and gas industry for years to come. Most will soon
escape notice as they become standard
practice and the industry's attention shifts
to new challenges, but their effects on
well economics, jobs and community relations will remain.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the
hydraulic fracturing industry, where many
companies entered 2021 with an expanded
tool kit and a clearer direction. These
companies say they look forward to applying their recent insights and inventions
as activity resumes.
" We are anticipating small, measured
growth, " says Akshay Sagar, president of
Universal Pressure Pumping. " I doubt
we will see a spike in pressure pumping
demand, but we may see 3%-5% growth
in fracturing in the second quarter and
maybe the third. "
That potential growth has pushed some
producers to sign longer-term commitments with pressure pumpers, Sagar reports. " There is plenty of spare pressure
pumping capacity available, but the market
is tightening for quality equipment and
people, so producers are trying to secure
them, " he explains. " However, the longerterm contracts allow more flexibility than
they would have in the past through more
forgiving exit clauses. "
As the industry increasingly values
capital discipline, Sagar stresses the importance of innovation. " We cannot thrive
if we grow linearly by hiring people to
replicate the processes we have used in
the past, " he says. " Instead, we need to
challenge ourselves to find smarter ways
to deliver clients an efficient hydrocarbon
production workflow. "
While automation will be key to unlocking many efficiencies, Sagar says it
must be backed by excellent people.
" With automation taking care of more
routine tasks, we need to recruit people

flexible enough to learn small parts of
several roles, then train them well, " he
says. " This will require a new approach
to competence. "
Many employees will work at remote
operations centers rather than on site,
Sagar mentions. " Our parent company,
Patterson-UTI Energy, has infrastructure
in place we can use to monitor pumps
remotely and start, stop or adjust them, "
he says.
" With remote monitoring, we can reduce the number of people who need to
go on site, which will improve safety, efficiency and sustainability, " he says. " We
have a long way to go to reach a fullyautomated site, but in the very near term,
I see no reason we cannot halve the
amount of people and equipment needed
on site. "
The Lean Frac Site
As part of its quest to minimize onsite equipment's footprint, Sagar says
Universal Pressure Pumping is redesigning
its pumps from the ground up. " Our
pump technology group has two goals, "
he outlines. " The first is increasing horsepower density, which will mean strengthening the pump so it can take advantage
of higher-horsepower engines without reliability issues. The second is reducing
maintenance costs by increasing the gap

between maintenance cycles.
" We also are working with a partner to
manage our ground iron, " he shares. " It is
streamlining the steps involved in moving
ground iron from place to place and
hooking up the hoses and connections. "
Another area of focus for the company
is reducing fuel consumption. " That starts
with optimizing fuel choices to get as
much energy as possible per gallon consumed, " Sagar says. " Patterson and Universal have been using dual fuel engines
since 2010, so we have a great grasp of
how to do that.
" Beyond that, we are maximizing effective fuel use by developing a system
that will shut the engines off when pumping
stops, much as a modern car's engine
shuts off at stoplights, " he says. " Our system can restart the engine quickly enough
to shut it down even when the lull in
activity will only last a few minutes. "
The system will eliminate all idle
time, Sagar says. He credits that capability
in part to its integration with the company's
control system, which allows it to see
when equipment loads begin to fall.
Meeting ESG Goals
When investors ask operators to
change, they listen, observes Sam Sledge,
president of ProPetro Holding Corp., a
Permian Basin-focused hydraulic frac-

To improve completion economics, Universal Pressure Pumping reports it is equipping
its fleets with more sophisticated automation and remote monitoring systems, designing
pumps with greater horsepower density and durability, and streamlining the tasks
involved in moving fleets from pad to pad.

APRIL 2021 57



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - Intro
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - Cover1
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - Cover2
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 4
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 5
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 6
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 7
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 8
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - 9
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - Cover3
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2021 - Cover4
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