digital oilfield, big data

Back in 2012, Steve Lohr writing for the New York Times did average folks a favor and introduced us to “Big Data.”

Yes, analysts, data scientists and the people in Silicon Valley had already heard of it, but thanks to Steve and the Times, the rest of us found out that it’s a “meme and a marketing term, for sure, but also shorthand for advancing trends in technology that open the door to a new approach to understanding the world and making decisions.”

Sounds intriguing, huh?

digital oilfield, big data

Despite a few years of boom for the concept of ‘Big Data,’ the term itself is old news.

Despite a few years of boom for the concept of “Big Data,” the term itself is old news. Big Data came with a “measure it all” attitude that eventually gave the phrase a bad rap, but smart companies didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Data plays an expanded role in our daily lives, including how we do business. Now, instead of worrying about how big the data is, the winning trend is to focus in on only what’s actually relevant.

Now fast forward to today: leveraging data for higher productivity and reduced costs in the oil patch is a reality. Not Big Data, but the right data. And to capitalize on this reality, we must think much, much smaller

Forget Big Data

Why small data? In part, that’s because Big Data is a pain in the you-know-what. It’s hard work, plagued by data quality issues, and it’s expensive to boot.

Matt Turck points out that an organization who buys into Big Data (and yes, it has to be the wholeorganization), needs to “capture data, store data, clean data, query data, analyze data and visualize data.” And while software can handle it, “some of it will be done by humans,” and all of it needs to be part of a seamless integration.

If this doesn’t sound easy, it’s because it’s not.

After you analyze anything and everything to get whatever info is available and come up with correlations, sometimes your takeaways aren’t only unexpected, but off the wall. For many businesses, coincidences continue to be suddenly pegged on cause and effect, leading many on some expensive wild goose chases.

At Slate, Will Oremus points out that Big Data’s problem isn’t that the data is bad, it’s this over-enthusiastic, fetishistic application of data to everything as often as possible. Data in the short-lived boom of Big Data was not being used in a careful, critical way.

Really, all of the data being collected was hard to interpret. When you’re collecting billions of data points – clicks or cursor positions on a website, turns of the drillbit or strokes of the pump – the actual importance of any single data point is lost.

So, what may seem to be a big, important high-level trend might not be a trend at all. There could be problems in the data, an issue with the methodology or some kind of human error at the well site.

Simply put, Big Data alone doesn’t always add up.

Oil, Gas and Data

While most oil and gas producers are relatively late to the Big Data party, we might consider ourselves lucky.

Why? To start, the wider the gap between the proxy and the thing you’re actually trying to measure, the more dangerous it is to place too much weight on it.

For example, well performance indicators are a function of numerous important factors outside of an engineer or supervisor’s control.

Part of the draw of Big Data was the idea you could find meaningful correlations even in very noisy (and seemingly completely unrelated) data sets. And, thanks to the sheer volume of data, coupled with powerful software algorithms that can theoretically control for confounding variables. The model we’re describing would draw upon a very wide range of well production correlations from across many basins and production environments to generate an “expected” set of production outcomes against which actual results could be compared.

Now, imagine for a minute that such a system were applied within the context of a single company or field – with just the wells in a particular area compared with one another.

Without the “magic” of Big Data, anomalies in total production in a given timeframe would be glaring. Thank you, small data!

No intelligent oilman (or woman) examining them would be under the illusion each well’s performance corresponded neatly with the historical trend of that well, let alone the particular field of wells.

Moreover, it would be relatively easy to investigate each well on a case-by-case basis and figure out what was going on.

However, a system based on the idea of Big Data would be far more opaque. Because the data set was big rather than small, it’s many times crunched and interpreted by a third-party using a proprietary mathematical model.

This lends a veneer of objectivity, but it forecloses the possibility of closely interrogating any given output to see exactly how the model arrives at its conclusions.

For example, some wells may have underperformed not because of a technical issue, but because of a skimming vacuum truck operator or a pencil whipping pumper – common occurrences apparent to humans but lost on the data.

You Are Your System

In the oil and gas market, the cost at which you extract oil and the system that enables you to do it is who you are. This ‘machine’ you either create or ascribe to is the reason your company is alive.

However, as the world changes, you and your operations must become street-smart if you’re going to succeed – perhaps, even survive.

Remember, all the work we’re doing is about getting results. We’re not innovating simply to be innovative. We’re not creating only to be creative. We’re not producing oil and gas simply to produce oil and gas. We’ve got a serious goal in mind.

To discover how to get there, we’re going to want to study the laws of production and cost to most effectively produce exactly what we’re looking for from our oil and gas assets, which is maximum profit.

That said, we look for a machine that has already proven itself: one that can be successfully implemented and enables you to scale at will, in the hands of ordinary people, all at a low cost, to give you an extreme competitive advantage.

And we simply believe that a new breed of machine serving up ‘small data’ to the right people at the right time is the quickest to get you there.

Sure, we’ll continue to hear a lot of talk about Big Data. And while this idea of Big Data has some merit, the operators who take on these type of challenges do so before they come to understand their most chronic dysfunction.

And that underlying dysfunction is always a strategic problem, a workflow problem, something easily solved by reevaluating the way they communicate – never a technological problem.

For software to be successful, it must focus on the human element, not just the technical. And the companies that forget this are setting themselves up for failure.

This is why we must focus on small data, starting on the front line, in the field with the pumpers and field staff who collect it. Because Big Data is a bust for smart oil.

Special Note: This thought piece was originally published on Rigzone. Original article can be viewed here.

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 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

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”

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”

Most of the equipment you handle and components you use on an oil lease fall under the general heading of materials. That includes spare parts, pipes in storage, and chemicals that are stored on the lease. All of that stuff has to be recorded and while taking inventory isn’t fun, it is an important part of making sure a business is financially stable.


A pumper working on a lease will usually be somewhat responsible for the materials that get used in the course of a workday, so it all has to be kept track of and counted. A pumper will also usually be responsible for materials that are stored on a lease, particularly if they go missing; theft can be a serious problem. Materials need to be easily accessible, securely stored, and reasonably organized.

All of the tracking and accounting is made possible by accurate and meticulous record-keeping. Each type of material is usually tracked in its own set of records which requires a specific set of information. The record-keeping needs will usually vary from well to well, from lease to lease, and from company to company.


Storing Materials

While most materials are usually kept in a central location, there is often a certain amount of stuff that gets stored on the lease. There’s a few reasons for that. The central storage location may be in a town or other municipality, and believe it or not the materials stored in those locations can be subject to additional taxes. It’s also usually useful to have at least some stuff handy in the case of an emergency or to save on the cost of transportation. It’s not unusual to have spare rods, pony rods, and tubing on hand. It’s obviously not too useful to store fuses at the company’s office, so there’s usually a supply at the lease. Older equipment being removed or new equipment to replace it might be held temporarily at a location, as will ladders, walkways, and other infrastructure before it’s put in place. It’s not unusual to have a bit of everything handy.

All this stuff will usually be stored in a fenced and locked part of the lease. This area will need to be prepared to keep the equipment stored there in good condition. It may include a small doghouse for storage of more sensitive equipment or as a place to fill out paperwork out of the weather. The fenced-in area will need to be large enough for a truck to enter, deliver its load, turn around, and drive out.

Among other things, it’s important to keep weeds and plants from growing, as they can lead to a variety of problems. The lack of plants means that mud can be a problem if there aren’t any preventative measures taken. Crushed rock is used to address both problems. The yard itself should also be placed to prevent issues with drainage and other problems.

Some material may need to be stored off the ground. This will usually include engines and other delicate equipment. Concrete slabs or wooden slabs may be used. A roofed truck dock is great for handling larger and heavier material. All engines and other equipment should be winterized when they are put into storage. ‘Winterization’ means to drain fluids and seal openings to prevent damage from weather, which will probably need to be done no matter the season. Rain, in particular, can cause rust and valve damage.

The storage area should be well organized to make everything easy to find. A plan of the storage area is helpful, with all the material marked down. Equipment racks and storage should be labeled and marked clearly so that everything is easy to find; some sort of plan where everything is numbered in order usually works best. Everything should be recorded as soon as it’s brought to the storage area. If inventory isn’t tracked, it’s much more likely to go missing.

When it’s been decided that material is no longer useable on the lease, it can be downgraded to either junk or scrap. These are terms that have specific meanings: scrap is not repairable and has essentially no useful parts, while junk isn’t usable but may still have some useful parts or pieces. Junk might be held onto so that it can be worked over for spares. Either junk or scrap could be sold at auction. It all has a value, even if only a small amount, and so junk and scrap need to be tracked as well.


Pipe Storage

Pipes and rods will normally be stored on the lease, as waiting for replacements can cause a significant amount of well downtime when it’s not producing. Pipes are rated according to the quality of the steel and the depth they’re rated to. The lowest rating, for example, is H-40, followed by J-55. The pipe will be stamped with it’s original rating. However, the pipe’s rating may change; when used pipe is removed from the well but is still in decent shape, its quality will be downgraded one step and it may be put to some other use. For example, a joint of J-55 piping will be downgraded to H-40. This change in rating is not marked on the pipe itself, but only in the materials records. The recorded rating should be trusted over the rating stamped on the pipe.


Figure 1. A rack for storing pipe at a lease location.

Pipes are stored in racks, which need to be designed to be large and strong enough to hold the lengths of pipe that are going to be used. The racks are also usually placed so that the pipes are oriented north-and-south when stored. It’s believed that this can prevent or slow the re-crystallization of the pipes, which can impact its strength. It’s also helpful if the pipe rack is built so that the pipe can be easily rolled on and off a truck.

Pipe and rods can be stacked in layers with strips of wood used to separate each layer. A wooden block can be nailed on the board to prevent pipe from rolling off the rack unexpectedly. Pipe should be even and neat when stored in racks. It also should be collared, and the threads should be cleaned and covered with thread protectors. It’s common to store pipe and rod joints by length, with lengths coming in different ranges. In range 1 are pipes 30 to 35 feet in length. In range 2 are pipes 35 to 40 feet long. Range 3 includes pipes from 40 to 45 feet long.


Chemical Storage

Chemicals are usually expensive and can be dangerous, so it’s essential that they are always clearly identified. They usually come in drums that hold 55 gallons, which should be marked with the contents and the date the chemical arrived at the storage location.


Figure 2. It’s important that chemicals are stored correctly and disposed of when they are no longer needed.

There are a few requirements and common practices that should be followed when marking chemicals. The markings should be at least 1 inch high and spaced so that they are easy to read. The markings can be specific to the chemical or just be a general category. For example, chemicals used to treat oil could be marked with an O, solvent for clearing paraffin can be marked with an S, and so on.

The inventory of chemicals should also always be kept up to date. Accurately tracking the amount of chemicals on hand also allows you to anticipate when more will be needed. Misplacing or misidentifying chemicals can lead to serious problems. Not only can it lead to unsafe handling, it can also be costly to identify chemicals so they can be disposed of correctly.  

Chemicals should be inventoried regularly so that the amount used in the preceding month can be calculated. With that information, it’s possible to estimate chemical usage over time. Each 55 gallon should be counted, and partly full barrels should be measured and accounted for as well. There are charts that allow you to convert depth gauged in a barrel to volume of fluid.

Details about the chemical should be noted in records (better yet, in your GreaseBook oil and gas production operations software for your mobile device), including the name, purpose, instructions for use, and how long it can be stored.


Inventorying And Moving Stored Materials

It’s likely that materials will be moved on and off the lease with some regularity. Projects will need specific equipment that has to be brought to the lease, counted, and stored, with each step being recorded. It’s not unusual for extra material to be brought for each project. When the project is completed, this also has to be counted up and either sent back to central storage or held on the lease.

A materials transfer sheet is needed whenever materials are moved. When pipes are being moved, a pipe tally sheet will also be needed. Both of these will have some specific fields that need to be filled out. It’s not unlikely that there won’t be a field for an important piece of information, or that there isn’t space to write everything. It’s common practice, in that case, to write ‘OVER’ on the front of the sheet and then add whatever notes are needed to the back. An example of information that’s important to note includes the downgrading of pipe, specifics about storage, or handling instructions. As usual, it’s better to offer too much information than too little.

In some cases, material may be owned as part of a joint venture with another company. This equipment has to be handled carefully. Though some piece of jointly owned equipment may be just the answer you need to a problem, it will usually have restrictions regarding its use; jointly owned equipment is usually reserved for the joint venture. This material has to be carefully kept track of and it should always be clear, both by sight and in the records, what material is jointly owned.

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out these related articles: The Basics Of Keeping Records For Oil & Gas ProductionWell Records For Oil & Gas Production and, Operational Records For Oil & Gas Production Wells – they’ll be sure to pump you up!!!

With the amount of paperwork that is required around the lease, it can sometimes seem like pumpers are actually bookkeepers who spend a lot of time outside. Just about everything that is done around a lease ends up getting noted down and recorded somewhere. It’s all important stuff and is used frequently to make important decisions about equipment and production schedules.


While on many leases records are kept on electronically, not every well has a high enough production to warrant those kind of upgrades. Paper records are therefore still fairly common. In either case, the same measurements are required.


Operation Records

Oil production is often where most of the attention goes, and rightfully so; that’s what drives the business and provides the income that pays for everything else. Production records can also be used to diagnose problems, prevent problems before they get serious, and see some issues coming so they can be avoided entirely. Having the production records at hand can often answer a number of on-the-spot questions.

The other records that are kept shouldn’t be discounted, however. A substantial amount of money will be sunk into equipment, maintenance, and labor. Proper records will track all that and highlight where money can be saved and operations streamlined. Some of the other records kept around the lease include:

  • Consumption of chemicals: It’s difficult to express chemical consumption in a simple dollar amount. Chemicals can be added to oil that’s not sold until the next month. That means the cost of chemicals consumed can’t be compared directly to the oil sold. However, comparing to the average daily production gives a workable estimate.
  • Supply expenses: Some companies will allow pumpers to spend a certain amount without needing approval, as long as it’s recorded. For larger purchases, there is usually an approval process that requires paperwork.
  • Time sheets: Recording the hours you worked is obviously important if you want to get paid. Time sheets are kept both for company employees. There is also usually some sort of time keeping paperwork for contract labor. Pumpers working for the company may sometimes need to confirm the amount of work down by contract labor; accuracy is always important.

Other records may include readings for all meters, vehicle mileage and fuel, and details of spills and other problems around the lease.


Production Records

Production amounts will often be sent to the leasing company’s office over the phone or by electronic means. Paper records are also required in many cases. In the past, 7-day production reports were common, but have been replaced by 8-day reports or even mobile apps like the GreaseBook to save on paperwork a bit. Monthly reports are also required to give an overview of production.


Figure 1. An example of the commonly used 8-day report.

The 8-day report is a daily record of production that also shows the results of well tests, lists problems, and other information. It can be helpful to consult it each day to have a reference to compare the day’s production against. The report should always be double checked before it’s submitted, as it’s important that it is accurate. 8-day reports are usually submitted on the 1st, 9th, 17th, and 25th of each month.

Gas production is usually tracked and reported automatically by a meter, so it’s usually not part of the daily report. Gas production will usually be measured as part of the monthly well tests, however, when a chart record may need to be made.

Production is also recorded in the monthly tank battery production record. The total production of oil, water, and gas for the month is listed. It is then divided by the number of days to give a daily average. Comparing daily averages from month to month is a good way to get a sense of production changes over time.


Figure 2. This tank chart is used to convert gauged depth to volume of liquid. The tank is cone-bottomed and contains 3.83 brls of oil.

The tests are done on the same day each month. When a single well feeds to a single battery, one day can be the monthly ‘test day,’ when the well and battery can be tested.  These figures are usually recorded on custom tables made for each well. The sheet will usually record the lease, well number, the date, how long the well was produced, and the amount of oil produced. Other details are recorded according to the needs of the particular well. As a rule, it’s better to include too much information than not enough.

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out these related articles: The Basics Of Keeping Records For Oil & Gas Production, Well Records For Oil & Gas Production and, Tracking Inventory In Oil & Gas Production – they’ll be sure to pump you up!!!

Well records provide a history of a well, its equipment, and what it has produced. With a full set of well records in hand, it’s often possible to make rough predictions about how a well will act in the future, when equipment will need to be replaced, and how to best operate the well. That makes accurate and up-to-date well records essential.

Well Records

While the official records will usually be maintained by the producing company, it can be helpful to get a general idea of the information contained within the well records and how it can be used.


Well Records

While the official records will be kept by the producing company, it’s usually a good idea for the pumper working a well to keep a record of their own (or make things simple for your whole team and check out the GreaseBook oil and gas production reporting software app for your smart phone…) Together with regular visits, these records can be used to get a unique feel for what’s happening with a well. It’s also usually possible to get a look at the official records of the well you work on, for a fuller look at its history and behavior.

An example well pulling record.

Date Lease Well ID Pulled Tubing Pulled Rods Pump replaced Pump length Pump dia. Notes
2-21-11 Thomas 1 X X 1 1/8 12 ft 4 inches Pump valve worn out
5-4-12 Thomas 6 X X 1 1/4 13 ft 4 inches Holed tubing


Drilling Records

It’s rare that a pumper is involved with the drilling of a well. Looking at drilling records can be helpful, however, as it helps to see how a well has changed over time. The drilling record will contain information about the well’s completion, as well as the volumes of oil, water, and gas produced. It will also provide basic information about the well, such as the depth and diameter of the casing, and specifics about casing perforations. It will also be updated with any changes made to the well that could affect production.


Wellhead And Pumping Unit Records

Information about the wellhead and pumping unit may be critical in many situations. These records will contain information like the manufacturer of the pumping unit and records of service. It will also contain some information that can be helpful in day-to-day operations, such as the direction of the pumping unit’s rotation, stroke length, strokes per minute, and more.

Wellhead records will provide information about all the wellhead equipment and components that are visible, and which a pumper may have to service or monitor. Wellhead problems tend to be emergencies, and it’s usually helpful to have the necessary information at hand and easily accessible. Pulling tubing or rods and other maintenance involving the wellhead can often be expensive and have an impact on production. The wellhead records will include information such as the length of polished rods and the size of the rod liner, sizes for various gaskets used, stuffing and packing information, and details on other components.


Casing And Tubing String Records

Careful casing and tubing records are essential, as the diameter of the casing and tubing string will affect every piece of equipment in one way or another. The height of casing perforations will also affect the placement of tubing perforations, and therefore the length of the rod string. Most companies will have specific policies regarding the placement of the tubing perforations relative to the casing perforations. The number and placement of perforations can also be important information. If the well is ever worked over and the casing perforations are changed, that information will also be recorded in the casing records.

Detailed information about the tubing string will be found in the tubing records. These records will list the length of every joint of tubing as well as the quality of the joints. It will also list information about hold downs that may be used with the tubing string, including how to release them. Details about packers used with the string will also be listed in the tubing records. A pumper will most often have to update the description and count of the tubing string and maintenance records.

Those records should be exact. Each joint should be listed in the order it is run into the whole. Once the tubing string has been run downhole, the tubing joints will need to be listed in reverse order. In other words, they need to be listed from the top down so that they can be tracked as the string is pulled in the future.

There’s a couple of different ways to measure tubing joints. It’s likely that the pumping company has a particular method that they’ll want to use consistently across all wells. Tubing joints can be measured including the threading, not including the threading, or from the top of one collar to the next. The last method is the most accurate, but the joint does have to be lifted off the slips in order for it to be measured that way. The threading of a joint is about 1 ½ inches long, and most often joints are measured with the threads included. If either of the first two methods are used, the difference is fairly easy to figure out. For example, if the joints are measured including threading and there are 100 joints in the well, the tubing perforations will actually be 15 feet higher than the calculated length.

The tubing records will also contain details about a holddown at the bottom of the tubing string. Tubing strings might have a holddown at the bottom to reduce the amount of ‘breathing,’ or stretching and contracting. Tubing strings can have tens of thousands of pounds of pressure on them, which is important to know before attempting to pull the string.


Sucker Rod Records

Sucker rods are in just a few standard lengths, of 25 ft, 35 ft, and 37 ½ ft. That makes recording specifics about the rod string a little bit easier than it is to describe a tubing string. You can simply write down the number of each length in the order they were sent into the hole. Rods will generally stretch after some use, so the recorded length is only an approximation in any case.

The rod string records will also record specifics of the downhole pump. The length of the new pump’s stroke is recorded and compared to the old pump. Recording the date of each pump replacement is obviously important; among other things it can be used to predict when a new pump will be needed. Keeping track of a pump’s life can also help rule out some problems; if the pump usually lasts for a few years and it was just replaced a few months ago, it’s not likely to be the cause of current production problems. A good record can also help identify chronic problems that can be addressed, extending the life of the pump and other components.


Electrical Equipment Records

Information about the electrical systems around the lease may have their own records, or they may be included with the motor or prime mover they’re associated with. It’s usually a good idea to record as much detail about fuses, motors, and control boxes as possible, particularly if you’re not too knowledgeable about electrical systems or automation. Those are usually worked on by specialists, but it can usually be helpful to be able to provide them with some basic information before they arrive on site. That information can include fuse ratings and size, types of time clock, safety breakers, and style of control box.

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out these related articles: The Basics Of Keeping Records For Oil & Gas ProductionOperational Records For Oil & Gas Production Wells and, Tracking Inventory In Oil & Gas Production – they’ll be sure to pump you up!!!

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