Software vendors help oil and gas companies increase efficiencies during tough times
In an industry where high-value assets – both human resources and equipment – can be sent away to remote geographic areas for lengthy periods of time, ensuring the safety of crews and the tools they use is a crucial concern.
One view is that it’s a difficult economic time and a tough time to invest in technology as a result, says SkyBitz President Henry Popplewell; but his company’s customers are telling a different story. With oil prices down, he says many have realized they simply cannot operate with a “business as usual” mentality in order to take care of employees and turn a profit.
Technology is being turned to in order to capitalize on the benefits of added efficiency, and SkyBitz is working with the oil and gas industry to help protect and enhance the use of assets. The array of solutions offered to customers includes asset tracking and utilization optimization but also extends to a tank monitoring component, an inventory management system for mobile fuel delivery, and a driver regulatory compliance feature.
All of these solutions come from one entity, under one umbrella, with one interface. “That differentiates us considerably,” Popplewell says, pointing out that the diversity of the product mix is another element that sets the company apart from competitors; SkyBitz has devices that run on both cellular and satellite networks.
In the near future, the company plans to release a new technology solution driven by a product that operates anywhere in the world. “We have products like that today,” Popplewell says, “But this specific product we have taken to organizations that test for safety. We will be unique in that we will have a global satellite tracking product with both ATEX and UL certifications.”
Yogesh Khandelwal, president and CEO of geoAMPS, agrees that solutions driven by technology can bolster business during difficult times. “Our software allows companies to do more with less, and in times like these where oil prices are challenging and people are having to cut down on staff,” he says, “we can definitely provide a value proposition for these organizations to manage their information with fewer people.”
The company’s landAMPS solution helps oil and gas clients throughout the U.S. and Canada manage land and infrastructure assets. Part of the secret to safety is ease of access to information, Khandelwal notes. A lot of hazardous situations can be avoided if the key personnel have access to the most up-to-date intelligence.
If a client has an asset on a ranch or farmland where hunting occurs, for example, knowing when the hunting season begins and ends could keep workers from ending up on that property at the wrong time. Similarly, when there are vicious animals or a hostile landowner on or near a given piece of property, being made aware of those dangers up front can help better manage those risks.
“What our software does in all those situations is provide for the agents in the field an easy mechanism for them to get acquainted with all the adverse conditions they may be up against before they even set foot on that property,” Khandelwal says.
On the other end of the software’s spectrum is the safety of equipment. The company’s solution provides an ability to oversee the inspections of critical assets. Ensuring these are carried out in a timely fashion and providing evidence of compliance helps maintain safe operations and avoid costly fines and shutdowns.
In addition, a lot of these clients are managing multiple leases with multiple expiration dates and different payment schedules, Khandelwal says, and in many cases they are also making payments based on production and volumes. If these aren’t managed well, companies run the risk of invalidating leases. The landAMPS solution allows agents to manage lease acquisitions, mineral title research, environmental studies and depth severances within one system.
Khandelwal has found that the software can also reduce valuable production time. “Because of the efficiency the software brings, we have found that our clients are able to compact their schedules down to meaningful levels,” he says. In one case, a two-year production schedule was brought down by three months. “That’s not savings, per se, but that can bring a lot of revenue for the time that they would not have had if the pipeline actually took two years to build.”