Time management is an important skill in most situations, but for a lease pumper it can be vital. Spending your time wisely can make the difference between turning a profit and falling short, or between turning a small profit and a much larger one. Because lease pumpers often work on their own, you’ll be in charge of your own schedule and what you spend your time on each day. Routine, habit, and planning ahead can all help to make sure you’re using that time well.



The Working Day

You’ll need to put together a routine that works well for you, but devoting the morning to small, daily tasks is a good way to go. Getting that stuff out of the way allows you to focus on larger projects later in the day.

The first thing to get out of the way is a visual inspection of the site and equipment. This starts as soon as you drive onto the lease. Keep your eyes open for things like leaking lines or rusty equipment, and you may end up spotting a lot of problems early on. The lease should be kept clean and free of trash and debris to make this sort of look-around as easy as possible. It’s possible you may see small bolts or washers on the ground around a failing piece of equipment.

Sight glasses should also be checked, and the level of liquid in each measured. Tying string around the level or otherwise marking it can give a clear indication if the level changes. If the amount of oil in a vessel increases, that can indicate an increase in the amount of water, or that water has been trapped in an oil line.

Part of the visual inspection is also listening; a malfunctioning pump or engine will usually sound different, and paying attention is worthwhile. Gauging tanks should be done daily, and possibly several times throughout the day.

If wells don’t pump constantly, it’s usually good to be around for at least some of the time they’re operational. Starting a pump at the beginning of your work day is a good idea. If pumps are running on schedule, that’s a good sign the electrical and automation systems are working. Pumps not turning on when they should is obviously a big hint that something’s wrong. Watching the pumps in action can often be a good idea, as well, as loosening fittings or failing equipment can sometimes be more clear.


How To Approach The Lease

Even before you get to the site, your attitude will often determine how successful you are. Self motivation is key, as is a sober approach and a good work ethic. Obviously liking your job is helpful and nice, but most parts of the job are going to be tedious, difficult, and dirty. Taking pride in a job well done, then, is going to get you further than having lots of fun.

Habitually maintaining your tools and equipment will save you a lot of money. Another key skill is knowing what purchases will ultimately be worth it, and which are going to be a waste of money. That will often require some research, which is something that is generally a good idea when running a pumping operation; techniques and equipment advance constantly and keeping up to date should be a priority. Understanding what’s under your feet is also vital, as understanding how the reservoir you’re tapping will behave can help anticipate problems and opportunities.

All these traits add up to getting as large a return on your investment of money and time as is possible, which is the goal of any lease pumper. The key thing to understand when working for yourself is that every minute you slack off, you’re just creating more work for yourself later. All the time you take off work because you’d rather be doing other things equates to money that doesn’t end up in your pocket.


Planning Larger Tasks

Some aspects of running a lease have a strict schedule. If you’re selling oil by truck transport, everything has to be ready before the truck arrives. Likewise, the leasing company usually expects to be paid on time.

Other aspects, including a great deal of the day-to-day work on a lease, may not have a deadline or schedule. A lot of things will just need to get done at some point, before too long has passed. Checking and changing oil and filters needs to happen regularly, but there’s no specific date by which, if it’s not done, the engine will stop working. Scheduling these sorts of tasks actually can become more important, rather than less so. Otherwise things can slip and routine maintenance is left undone until there’s an emergency, which is always more expensive in both money and time.

Regular maintenance should be planned and tracked in records kept for the lease. These sorts of tasks include checking and changing oil and filters, lubricating bearings, tightening belts, and so forth for every engine and pump on the lease. Records should also be kept of the amounts pumped each day for each well (we go into the importance of these maintenance schedules and how best to track them here: The Basics Of Keeping Records For Oil & Gas Production).

Other tasks include regular cleaning of tank bottoms, testing wells, and chemically treating the oil.


Cleaning Tank Bottoms

The company who buys your oil generally require that tank bottoms are kept clean, as dirty tanks can affect the quality of the oil sold. At the beginning of the month, the stock tanks emptied by the previous month’s sale should be circulated so that they’re as clean as possible for the next month’s oil production. Any oil and the emulsion that has collected needs to be sent back through the treating system so that the oil can be separated. You may have to do that a few times before the tank is clean enough. Oil in the stock tanks can also be regularly circulated during the month to help keep tank bottoms clean. Sometimes, you’ll have to pump water into the tank in order to get emulsion flowing. We touch on the topic of circulating tank bottoms here: Basic Methods of Treating In Oil & Gas Production.


Testing Wells

Wells should be tested monthly, and precise records kept. This is the best way to gauge how a well is performing. The same day of the month should be chosen for each well, so that a good comparison can be made to earlier measurements. We go into more depth on the topic of testing and treating of wells here: Testing And Treating Oil & Gas Production.


Chemically Treating Oil

A key part of the treatment process is adding chemicals to the oil produced from the well. This will need to be done on a regular basis. This can help the chemical treatment process efficient, and also use up less of the chemicals. Moving the oil and thus further mixing the chemical can help with treating it, so circulating oil sitting in stock tanks can also be helpful.

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