E&P Software: GreaseBook meets “Shark Tank”of E&P Software…

Last week, Houston-based SURGE (an accelerator that provides access to capital, customers, and mentors to E&P software and other energy-related companies) extended invitations to 11 of the world’s most promising Energy Startups….

More than 500 companies vied for a seat at the SURGE table and the opportunity to break bread with an elite group of SURGE alumni…

From this year’s applicant pool, SURGE accepted less than 2% of the total applicants. And, with members of the class hailing from such places as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco — Oklahoma City’s GreaseBook is damned proud to round out the mix.

e&p software accelerator

That’s right, SURGE thinks GreaseBook is onto something hot, and has extended a formal invite for GreaseBook to join the ranks of this increasingly elite group of energy & oil software startups!

What does this mean for GreaseBook?

In addition to seed funding, GreaseBook will be given access to 100+ mentors representing the world’s leading experts, policymakers, scientists, decision makers, and influencers in the energy arena…

Surge is only in its third year, and its previous two classes have already gone on to raise $25 million in funding while creating more than 150 jobs…

Some of the industry’s most well-known players (Halliburton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Shell, ABB, Schlumberger, RigNet) are plugged into the SURGE community. Essentially, by joining SURGE, GreaseBook will be granted access to the industry that simply can’t be found anywhere else…

What does this mean for you, the E&P Software User?

While SURGE offers access to leading experts on design and infrastructure of GreaseBook’s operations, when it comes to influencing the direction & functionality of the app, our best asset is YOU — the independent operator.

Not only can our clients going to get a better app, they can also expect an even more dynamic group of folks to service and stand behind it…

We have a whole slew of app enhancements that we’ll be rolling out to our users in the coming months. And guess what? They were all ideas submitted by the GreaseBook community… engineers, owners, admin, supervisors, and pumpers like YOU.

Thanks to the SURGE Accelerator, GreaseBook is ‘pumped’.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.

E&P Software

**In November, Surge moved into its own building, a 58,000-square-foot space that also serves as a co-working space for technology entrepreneurs and other E&P Software upstarts.


GreaseBook Founder named Up & Coming "Industry Disruptor" by OGM Magazine

Just recently, The OGM (Global Oil & Gas Industry News) featured GreaseBook’s founder & CEO (Greg Archbald) as one of its Up & Coming “Industry Disruptors”!!

From exploring Greg’s definition of “success” to disclosing his role model (W. Axl Rose, notorious front man of 80s rock band Guns ‘N Roses), the article gives the reader some interesting (and fun!) insight into Greg’s life and how he got to where he is today.

We’re proud of everything Greg has accomplished, and even more grateful to The OGM for recognizing his hard work — check out the full article by clicking here:



Oil Production Software: The Consumerization of the Oil & Gas Enterprise

Oil Production Software meets smartphones and tablets…

There’s a big problem in oil & gas: getting the production information from the oilfield back to headquarters.

And, while the mega operators have always had the capacity to collect production information via sensors and telemetry — to the independent oil company, the ‘digital oilfield’ has always been something that lay just out of reach.

Why was this so?

Two reasons:

  • Most operators are spread too thin. Not only are field data collection systems expensive, but they also require a high level to design and deploy.
  • A large majority of the independent operator’s production portfolio consists of marginally producing wells (better known in the industry as ‘stripper wells’). Simply stated: retrofitting these wells with sensors the cost doesn’t justify the means.

However, now the independent operator has options. . . check out the video below (ie sit back and relax while the Big Boys seethe with envy!! 😉 )

**Update: 1/15/2015: We get a lot of people inquiring about this video. Since time of filming, GreaseBook has accomplished nearly everything we set out do in our pitch…

  1. CTO onboarded? Yes, and man this guy is gooooood…

  2. Customer Success Manager and help desk Staff online? Check!

  3. A GreaseBook in every pumper’s truck in America?  At 14,000,000bbls of oil flowed through the app (and counting!), we’re closer than you might think 😉

During SURGE Day at the House of Blues in downtown Houston, GreaseBook pitches its new oil production software platform to a group of more than 500 investors, thought leaders, and potential clients in the energy industry…

Attended by heavy hitters like ShellStatOilConocoPhilips, and Schlumberger, GreaseBook explains how what once was only available to the largest of operators can now be replicated by the independent oilman, with better results, in less than 20 minutes…

Being an independent operator has never been so good!! 🙂

E&P Tanks Software: Oil & Gas Awards Nominate GreaseBook Pumper App

The other day, the Oil & Gas Awards rolled into Oklahoma City to celebrate and recognize all sorts of advances made in the industry over the past 12 months… Among the likes of Halliburton, Continental Resources, and Chesapeake, the Oil & Gas Awards committee named the GreaseBook App (essentially, E&P Tanks Software which assists pumpers in monitoring their oil & gas production) as one of their finalists…

For which award you ask?

The Future Industry Leader Award!

GreaseBook was honored to take part in the ceremony, but was more satisfied knowing that a large number of small to mid-sized operators are recognizing that consumer electronics (ie iPads and iPhones) and cost-effective apps (like GreaseBook!) are enabling them to work smarter, not harder.

The Oil & Gas Awards Committee recognized GreaseBook for “having attained and demonstrated an impressive depth of technical knowledge in its field, and showing an innovative approach to its work.”

For us, that’s code for:

Eliminating those greasy Run Tickets

Empowering your pumpers (thus increasing your oil production…)

Thwarting greedy oil purchasers

**Side note: don’t be shy — click one of the links above!**

Thanks to the Oil & Gas Awards Committee, GreaseBook is humbled.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.


Oil Well Monitoring: Oil Well Monitoring with an iPad App

GreaseBook, an iPad app explicitly for oil well monitoring, was recently featured in Hart’s E&P Magazine… check out the article below!

Smart technology provides relief for reporting headaches.

Over the last five years, there has been a major paradigm shift in the source of innovation.

Although the supermajors of the oil and gas industry still contend for the top spot in industry innovation (as demonstrated by their success in exploiting ever deeper, more remote basins), some of the larger E&Ps are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. These companies are saying no to connectivity, restricting the use of smartphones and tablets, and overlooking the applications and convenience their employees have come to enjoy and even depend on in everyday life.

oil well monitoring

Why is this so? Old habits die hard. Large companies look at mobile and pervasive computing from the IT mindset – control and compartmentalize – ahead of the benefits the organization will gain by enabling its teams through the mobile medium. However, with the employee time savings and relative affordability that the mobile medium has to offer E&P companies, smaller operators are taking note. Many of the small- to medium-sized independents have started to look to consumer electronics and cost-effective apps to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour – and squeeze every last drop of oil – from their operations.

David vs. Goliath

The GreaseBook app allows operators to use consumer technology to streamline their wellsite reporting. (Image courtesy of GreaseBook)

Monitor your oil well with an app

For years, the standard protocol of large production companies has been to monitor and execute all deepwater drilling activities via sophisticated satellite networks. Most wells over a certain capex are fitted with real-time optimization tools and sensors. However, for many smaller industry players, the digital oil field has always been a mirage that lay just out of reach.

Most operations managers and field engineers feel they are already spread too thin. Many field data collection systems require a high level of expertise to design, deploy, and operate. These systems also require general IT, control theory, and petroleum engineering skill sets to properly manage. While continually updating risk assessments, quantifying uncertainties, and integrating data across autocratic domain knowledge silos might all be part of an average day at one of the majors, for the smaller players, the cost and energy required does not justify the means.

While large independents and supermajors have entrenched themselves in advanced analytics software, data repositories, and massive IT departments to oversee it all, smartphones and tablet computers have been piggybacking their way into smaller companies. How? In the pockets and purses of the employees who work there.

Oil Well Monitoring: The pen and paper live on

It may surprise most people to learn that in a large majority of independent operating companies, the pen and paper method still remains the dominant form of field data collection. However, this is quickly changing. In most operations, field personnel are contracted to oversee and troubleshoot an operator’s leases. These field personnel usually fill out industry-standard paper gauge sheets. All oil, gas, and water production measurements are handwritten, and (if the operator is lucky) pumpers include any special commentary before mailing or faxing these figures to headquarters.

Although technologies like remote operations and SCADA have sought to address productivity and efficiency issues, many independent operators are of the mindset that a marginal well is going to produce what it is going to produce regardless of whether its production is monitored or not. Even in the case of high-flow wells, most operators require that their pumpers visit these sites several times a day, trumping some of the potential benefits a wireless monitoring device may tout.

When it comes to smaller operators, telemetry providers promoting real-time information may have missed the mark. Many operators are not concerned about immediate information. What they truly desire is a way to streamline the redundancy, reporting, and productivity issues that come with field data collection. What is more, they want a way to make sense of it all. And, with many pumpers fast approaching retirement age, operators are now searching for effective ways to transfer the intimate knowledge they have gained about their production properties to the next generation of engineers, managers, and field workers.

Some forward-looking E&P companies are addressing this through consumer electronics. Because of the shared repositories of information on which these mobile devices subsist, intimate knowledge of a company’s oil and gas assets is not stored away deep in a file cabinet or in some “autocratic domain silo” but is easily accessed via the cloud.

Rather than focus on the management and operations of onsite data servers, a majority (if not all) of the smart device software apps are hosted on the cloud. For the smaller operator, this means that employees can focus on what they are best at: overseeing oil and gas production, not managing complicated IT structure. Every piece of historical production information is stored offsite at a cloud storage provider, from which a relief pumper or a newly hired engineer can easily access needed information for review.

Smaller operators also are becoming more cognizant of the free apps on the iPad and iPhone that are the perfect complements to their business. Many of these apps only take a few minutes to set up but have the potential to yield days in productivity increases from operations managers, field engineers, and pumpers every year. For example, pumpers generally have a task list of things they need to do on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to keep their leases running in top form. By forming pumper message groups in Apple’s Reminder app (which comes standard on every iPad and iPhone), oil and gas operators have an effective way to deliver daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists (e.g. drop soap sticks, pump maintenance, chemical schedules, gas chart calibration, etc.).

Engineers who oversee the operations of small producers are employing free file sharing services such as Dropbox to store and deploy important documents like well completion reports and workover information. Once files are uploaded into Dropbox, employees are no longer tethered to their desktop computers. A field engineer can view a well history file from his tablet or smartphone in the field and share this same file with his team of field personnel.

Pumpers also have been quick to realize that by using the camera function on their smart devices they are able to save an employer thousands of dollars each year. By taking photos or video of problems in the field and posting them to messaging applications, veteran foremen and engineers can visually engage with their production assets. Where once issues could only be resolved through verbal descriptions over the telephone, companies are now able to visually troubleshoot problems from the office, thus avoiding costly onsite service calls.

A new breed of specialized apps has begun to crop up in the oil and gas industry. GreaseBook, an iPad application for operators and their pumpers, has eliminated the need for the traditional paper gauge sheet workflow. The company designed the app to work in oil-producing areas with zero mobile connectivity, and the app touts zero setup time and no contracts. The company has set out to improve the way pumpers record and interact with the vital production information they collect in the field, and the app can potentially eliminate 99% of all in-house, field-related administrative duties.

Operators are happy to outsource many of their core computing and operations processes to third-party companies because of the convenience and amount of time that is saved. What is more, company employees actually want to use these smart devices, which means management does not have to endure the typical push-back of new initiatives.

The platforms on which these smartphones and tablets run are nothing to scoff at. Take Apple, which according to market value surpassed ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable company in 2011. The apps that run on these smart devices are backed by cloud computing heavy hitters like Microsoft and RackSpace Cloud systems and are connected by mobile communications giants like Verizon and AT&T. Essentially, operators feel more comfortable leaving the responsibilities of their core computing and operations processes to third-party consumer companies, not only because of the convenience and amount of time they save but also because these companies dedicate 100% of their resources to providing and perfecting these services.

Democratization of the oil field

Despite the success operators are having with the implementation of these easy-to-use, cost-effective apps, many of the larger operating companies are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. The cost of not going mobile comes in many forms. It comes in the form of not attracting the strongest candidates to replace the industry’s aging work force. And it comes in the form of not making the best decisions due to limited information. These petite E&P companies may soon find themselves the envy of their larger, more “sophisticated” brethren. Something happens when people start to use smart technology. Their focus shifts from “how things get done” to “how things need to get done,” and for owners and managers of E&P companies, this is a welcome transformation.

Well Production Data: GreaseBook well production data app for iPad featured in The Oklahoman

GreaseBook well production data app for operators was recently featured in an article written by the energy editor of The Oklahoman. The article was aptly entitled, “Local software company aims to digitize oilfield”, and addresses GreaseBook’s goal of making  (consumer friendly) technology available to small and mid sized oil and gas producers.

Well production data

Although the concept of the “Digital Oilfield” is nothing new, GreaseBook recognized that the efficiencies gained in the oilfield from going digital have always been a mirage that lay just out of reach for the small E&P. However, with the advent of consumer technology (iPads and iPhones), the larger, “more sophisticated” Super Majors and large independents are eyeing the small(er) producer with increasing envy…

Check out the article here: http://newsok.com/local-software-company-aims-to-digitize-oil-field/article/3872479

Oil and Gas Data Management: GreaseBook on The Energy Makers Show

Last week, The Energy Makers Show interviewed GreaseBook to find out a little more about the app’s approach to oil and gas data management for lease operators in the oil patch…

In the clip below, Russ Capper (Owner/CEO of The Energy Makers Show) talks with Greg Archbald (Founder of GreaseBook) to understand exactly how the app replaces the paper gauge sheet…

The EnergyMakers Show is a weekly video podcast featuring interviews with energy innovators, thought leaders and public policy makers discussing the challenges of the world’s rapidly increasing thirst for energy.

We were thrilled to be a part of the interview, and even more grateful to the Energy Makers Show for spreading the word about GreaseBook — be sure to pay Russ a visit at www.theenergymakers.com!

Now, GreaseBook for Android

Oklahoma City, OK — GreaseBook, developers of a mobile oilfield app by the same name, announced today they are expanding their field-ready mobile capabilities to another device with the introduction of the first-ever native GreaseBook Android app.

The GreaseBook Summer ‘17 release comes fresh off the heels of the company announcing it had just rolled the 35MM barrel mark— since the company’s inception a short 4 years ago, America’s independents have scrolled, swiped, and tapped more than 35 million barrels into the modest field production app.

GreaseBook now boasts that its trailblazing mobile solution is now being leveraged by more than 100 Operators and 1000 Pumpers, including several of the nation’s top 100 largest producers.

Like the GreaseBook iPad app, the new GreaseBook for Android phones and tablets offers a complete end-to-end oilfield production reporting solution that fits conveniently in your Pumper’s pocket.

And, while many legacy software solutions are one-way communication tools from field to office, GreaseBook gives the Operator’s pumpers feedback at the well site by granting them access all historical commentary, production graphs, and well history while in the field.  The GreaseBook even goes as far as to grant Pumpers the flexibility to work offline in low or no-connection areas.

“With the native Android app from GreaseBook, not only will the Pumpers have all the capabilities they need to keep those production updates moving from field to office, but they’ll also have access to things like perf depths, the last time a well was worked over, and access to all historical notes made by any other member on the Operator’s team who has ever set foot on the lease.” said Greg Archbald, Founder and CEO of GreaseBook.

Once the Pumper has submitted his data to the GreaseBook system, it’s automatically compiled and sends out scheduled, automated in-house, State, and investor reports enabling operators to significantly reduce the amount of labor required to gather (or chase down – ahem!) production information and field tickets if not reduce operating overhead by a full step improvement.

“Being “field-ready” means making sure that not only in-house team members like admin, production engineers, and field sups have the data they need when they need it, but by also granting this info to the Pumper you’d be amazed by how many of these guys and gals are able to further engage and rock those wells. And that’s essentially what we’re delivering with the GreaseBook – not only offloading much of the production reporting work on the Pumper but also giving them the information with which to reduce oversight and better engage your wells,” said Ryan Gillette, development consultant for GreaseBook. “With the introduction of our Android smartphone and tablet apps, in addition to our native iOS app for iPad, we are working toward giving operators the ability to enter and review production on any device, which means employees not only get to work with the personal devices they’re already familiar with but also lower the Operator’s buy-in because they’re not required to purchase devices or laptops for their employees.”

High off it’s recent release, GreaseBook Founder Greg Archbald closed by stating, “GreaseBook has a funny way of making Operators think for a moment – realizing that in comparison the GreaseBook app simply makes sense. Many Operators spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on brain-dead, ineffective Band-Aid approaches to solving what’s become a broken, mission-critical process. Trust is built on credibility, and pricing the solution low “because we can” is a remarkable statement. We see the company-customer relationship as a partnership – we don’t gouge the Operator. We want the product to help the Operator. We want to make clear to everyone involved in oil & gas that a technology shift is under way here, and that old solutions simply cannot hope to keep up.”

For more information about GreaseBook and how its app may be a fit for your company, check out www.greasebook.com or schedule a demo here.


About GreaseBook

Since GreaseBook’s inception a short 4 years ago, America’s independents have scrolled, swiped, and tapped more than 35 million barrels into the modest field production app.

GreaseBook Android

For our clients, that’s 35 million barrels that went ‘skim free’. 35 million bbls that were fully paid and accounted for. And, 35 million bbls that were tracked, organized, and reported with little to no intervention on behalf of the admins, engineers, and owners responsible for overseeing these operations.

Instead of pushing paper, manipulating spreadsheets, or fighting some ‘legacy system’, these folks were able to focus on what they do best: Pumping Oil.

For us – well, we feel a great sense of pride and responsibility.

Pride, because we’re bringing cost-effective solutions that make other industry software vendors curse us.

Responsibility, because so many independent operators have entrusted their production to the folks here at GreaseBook.

You see, something very interesting is happening… a surge of new methodology, ideas, human reason, and logic.

And, it’s not coming from the top down (the large, integrated operators), but from the bottom up.

A single pumper shifts from paper to mobile. An admin back at HQ realizes she no longer has to make telephone calls to remind the pumper to ‘get his data in’.

Eventually, engineers and production supervisors start clamoring because they actually have data and graphs that make sense. The band wagon increases in size.

The things that mobile is doing are valuable and positive… it creates proactive pumpers, it alleviates minutiae from the back-office, and keeps engineers and supervisors focused on the task at hand (maximizing oil production & minimizing overhead).

And the best part?

People actually want to use this stuff.

Folks, there is no stopping this groundswell – it’s replacing processes that were forced on the field just a decade ago.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

To learn more, please visit www.greasebook.com.

Telemetry. What a joke.

No, wait a minute. Telemetry, I love it.

I am sure we have all been there. If you are a pumper in today’s world of pumping, you should know about telemetry.

For those who don’t know about it,  the systems are computerized measurement systems that a pumper can call or log into on a computer to get information about one of their wells.


The systems, which are all different in what they offer you, can tell a pumper everything from how many MCF of gas a well has produced to static pressure, to accumulated pressure and now, there are even stock tank telemetry systems to tell us how many inches of oil or water the well made.

I have one thing to say about all of it. Watch out when you begin a close relationship with Telemetry. Because Telemetry is not into commitment.

To be sure, it is a great tool. I use it as a basic source of information. But I do not allow it to replace my presence at the wellhead.

Look, I am not the super-pumper of the world. I make mistakes and every so often take shortcuts – for which the oilfield gods promptly smack me down.

Which is why I have learned the hard way; machines made to measure oilfield production, are not perfect. We should see them as a good backup to the pumper, not the pumper being a good backup to the machine.

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine JW, who is a young guy in the oilfield. We were talking about how hard it is to stay in shape when you are working as a pumper.

We all have so many wells and it is easy to literally speed from one well to the next, only getting out long enough to do what you absolutely must. Between that and the fast food or more than likely, quick-stop hot dogs that we consume to get us through the day, we can put on some weight.

“When you run up your tanks to gauge them, simply run up the steps and down them twice,” I said.

He said only this, “We have telemetry.” I’m like, ‘Okay?” He told me that the company he worked for didn’t like them climbing tanks that often. “It’s a safety thing” he said.

Well, I don’t know about all that or how old the telemetry is on his route. But I told him I would gauge more tanks more often.

I have had tanks on which the telemetry was so badly calibrated that it thought it should have 10 feet of oil in it and it only had 3 feet. The bottom line here is, pumpers need to know what’s really in the tank. Because when you go and try to correct this kind of thing after having the wells for a while, leadership kinda narrows their eyes at you and say things like “You’re missing oil?” This is always the beginning of what you know will be a bad week of explaining where 7 feet of oil went.

You get the picture. Verify your telemetry. That’s my message. And, never, but never count on it to hide your misdeeds in the field.

See, the systems, like computerized anything, can tempt us all to roll the dice – take a bet on the computer system. But remember what I said, Telemetry is not your lover. It’s not committed to you. In fact, it’s like having a friend who gossips.

Okay, so here comes my telemetry nightmare story. You knew it was coming, right?

While working for Chaparral Energy, we had telemetry on all of our tanks. We had systems that measured when the oil got to a certain level at our wellhead site tanks on individual wells. This signaled our pumps to go on and kick the oil into a central line, which ostensibly carried it to the central battery.

But of course at the central battery, the only place that oil could go, since that was the end of the production line, was away in a truck. If a tank got too high or was close to overrunning, that’s where telemetry came in and the system would call me on the phone.

Now, most of the time, this system worked. But sometimes, if you didn’t take the time to climb your tank, you had a system that got gummed up by the oil and, yep, you guessed it, there were oil overruns. Not a lot of them, but they happened. The tank had 14 feet in it and the telemetry thought it was only 11 feet.

There were four of us pumpers for the large field we pumped. It was a CO2 and water flood field, which had approximately 150 wellheads, including injection well heads.

We had this huge central battery, where all of the workings of this field took place, including water and CO2 recollection and re-injection. This battery had three 3,000 barrel stock tanks. That is how much oil we were making on this field and all of it flowed freely to those huge tanks. They filled up fast and those tanks were hauled daily and sometimes more. So, if you’re a pumper, you get it. There was a lot of critical activity going on at this central battery.

Now, because that central battery was so intense, we all shared call.

Each of us had 24 hour on-call status in addition to our day job pumping our wells. Call lasted for eight days and you were on call about every three weeks. The whole battery was set up on telemetry and believe me, telemetry knew my phone number.

My phone rang when a compressor went down. My phone rang when an injection pump failed and my phone rang, most importantly, when one of the three 3,000 barrel tanks was about two feet from overrunning. Of all things on that battery that called me, high level alarms were what got me springing out of bed, jumping into my truck and racing down there to avoid an oil spill.

If all goes right, which doesn’t happen often but it can happen, you don’t hear from your phone. When it goes wrong, God help you. You might as well kick back in your pickup seat and just remain at the battery, because your phone is going to be calling you all night. Oh, did I mention, if I failed to answer and respond by punching some numbers into my phone, the system called my boss Chad.

I had been on call for about three of my eight days and things had been quiet. The weather, which always determines how much trouble you will have in the oilfield as a pumper, had been nice that week and there had been no problems for three days.

I was in the fantasy oil bubble.

The thing is, I lived 82 miles from the field where I pumped wells and so when I had call, I stayed over night in a travel trailer I rented in Perryton. But my boyfriend was not happy about my work away and so I decided, late one evening, to make a quick trip to see him to smooth over some of his ruffled feathers over my career choice.

All was good on the trip to Lavern. I saw my boyfriend, calmed him down a little and we talked. I napped for about 30 minutes and began the 82 mile trip back. On the way however, there are low dips in the highway where there is no phone signal and I had missed a call from one of my oil stock tanks that was reporting a high oil level. I was still out by about 45 minutes.

So I’m motoring down the highway right? And my phone rings. It’s Chad. “I just got a call for high level on the tanks at the main battery,” he said. “Are you on it.”

Not wanting to admit what I had done, I said, “Yep. I am on my way.”

I failed to mention that I was on my way and would get there in about one hour. I was just praying that this tank did not overflow. If it did, it would be my job.

Now at that time, I’ve got ol’ Greenie pegged out at like 90 miles per hour. Greenie is an old 1993 Ford F150 and he wasn’t used to such speeds. And once again, I get a call from that system telling me again, in what I swore was an irritated tone, that we are at a high level on that tank and it is likely going to run over any second. It doesn’t say this – I’m ad-libbing. It is a computer voice…but I sense that it hates me now and knows I am a sorry, no-good slacker for a pumper.

I don’t need to mention here that I was in a screeching panic. I called a friend there, John, who lived in Perryton. He had his own private wells and I knew he would probably help me out.

“John,” I hollered when he answered at 3 a.m., which for the record surprised me.  “Help me! Can you run up to the Camrick  (that’s what we called the battery) and change a tank over for me before it overruns?”

He said, “I would Rach, but I am out of town.”

I just hammered down on Ol’ Greenie even harder. I swear I made corners on two wheels, ran over a median in the highway when I was making fast turns, bumped down a dangerously washboardy dirt road and finally pulled in there to the battery.

I was so relieved to see that the oil had not begun dribbling over the top of the tanks. I jumped out and ran like a runaway horse to the back of the tanks where the equalizer valves were, I opened a valve to equalize the nearly full tank with the one next to it.

I sprinted back up to the top of the tank and looked in and low and behold, the thing had a whole three more feet before it would have run over. According to the telemetry that had called me, it was like inches from the top.

In this case, the inaccurate telemetry saved me. Yet, it could have been the other way and I would have been likely fired.

All that to say, telemetry is all good and fine. But there is nothing more important than good old physical presence to verify it. I never tried that stupidity again – I tried some other stupidity, but not that one.

P.S. I did finally come clean about all this to Chad, who by the way was one of the best bosses I ever had in the oil field. He just laughed.

~ Rachael Van Horn aka “Wench with a Wrench”

“If you’re going to take the island, you’re going to have to burn the boats.”

When I was pumping full-time, I had opportunities to listen to all kinds of different radio programs. One of them I heard once was a talk from Tony Robbins. Think what you want about the man. You don’t have to like someone to hear something they say that inspires you to reach deeper.

Greetings GreaseBookers. I wanted to talk about something that I feel is at the heart of not just how we do our jobs as pumpers, but also really defines WHO we are as well.

What this quote above means for me is to stop giving myself a way out of fighting through something and keep doing it like I have to actually “live on this island” so-to-speak.

Burn the Boats

What does this have to do with the oilfield?

Well, only everything.

If you work as a pumper, a driller and even a company man or an owner of a drilling or production company, this statement defines the very foundation of what it is to have intent and then to follow through with that intent.

When I was pumping wells in Perryton, Texas for Chaparral, I used to get up in the morning early to get my pricey, fru-fru coffee. Shortly after moving there to my temporary travel trailer, I found a little coffee shop on the main highway that runs through there.

The woman who had opened it seemed pleasant enough and the coffee was good.

But what I found with this shop was that some days she just decided not to come to work and so I would drive there and be really irritated because she would be closed.

The next time I went by, I asked her about the absence. Perhaps I just did not understand her hours. She said, “Oh, I just had my kids and grandkids in town and decided not to bother with it.”

“I see,” said I. “Well, I have been stopping at McDonalds and have taught them how to make my particular fru-fru coffee (which is four shots of espresso with only a little foam) and they are doing fairly well.”

“Well,” she said in a disapproving way. “What you have to have to make good coffee are good beans and McDonald’s doesn’t have good beans.”

I was incredulous.

“Well, actually, what you have to do to create a good cup of coffee is to be open,” I said.

I never went back. Again, what does this have to do with the oilfield?

We have to show up in our jobs. And when I say show up, I mean fully, mentally present for duty with the full intent to restart difficult pumping unit and compressor engines or to figure out why our separator is swamping everything.  We have to be willing to remain on a location until the problem is fixed.

We have to do this in a way that we would if we owned the oil well. That’s what the quote means. “If you’re going to take the island, you have to burn the boats”.

The boats, for the purpose of this quote, represent excuses, ways to get away again from what you thought you wanted, ways to discharge responsibility for what you should be achieving. Too often I meet folks who take a longing glance at the pumping job and think they want it. Then, within weeks, they are skipping wells and avoiding really working on them, which it required if you are really a true pumper.

What’s Robbins is saying is, if your goal is to conquer and own the island then burn the boats that allow you to escape and keep working at it like your life depends on it.

I was chatting with my bestie the other day and we were talking about this concept and how it plays out in the oil patch. I asked her, “How many times, on average, do you fail when trying to get an engine going or trying to work out a well problem, before you ultimately succeed and solve the problem?”

She said, “Five to seven times on average. Sometimes it’s way less and sometimes way more. But on average, five to seven times.”

I agreed with her and told her I had begun paying attention to that concept as well. I would tweak something on an engine, and try it. Tweak it again and try it again. If that didn’t work I would try another approach. And then finally I would hit on the combination that worked. And on average, I tried five to seven times before finding the problem or hitting on a solution.

I have asked several other pumpers about how much time they put on their well locations. Many try once or twice and if it won’t work, they call the company man or the mechanic. Often, I would discuss the mechanic’s work day and he would express frustration about what he would find when he was called out to start an engine that according to the pumper, “Just wouldn’t start”.

When we do our jobs in this way where others must come behind us, it creates in others around us the same feelings I had with the woman who thought she wanted a coffee shop until she realized she would actually have to run it.

Make no mistake about it GreaseBookers, even if you think you are getting by with these tricks and smoke screens, everyone knows what kind of pumper you are. Because, and I’m saying this metaphorically, the natives are still running your island.

I think pumpers need to ask themselves how they are applying themselves. I think half-assing or cheating your wells cheats you. Because at the end of the day you will take that same attitude into the “islands” of other life pursuits and you will always have your boats standing by and ready to allow you to NOT succeed.

~ Rachael Van Horn aka “Wench with a Wrench”