Shale Industry Needs to Look Within for Solutions That Save

Topics: Shale oil Tight gas/shale gas/coalbed methane
Photo courtesy of the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference.
Barry Biggs, vice president of onshore operations at Hess, said the company is using an “army of problem solvers” to help navigate through the current downturn.

July’s drop in oil prices to below USD 50/bbl reminded the shale industry that the hard times may be around for a while and that operators need to continue working on their cost reduction plans. At the recent 2015 Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, a major theme was how companies can improve performance without increasing the size of their budget.

Some companies are looking to work closer with other companies to share knowledge and technology that may yield higher production. Others are looking inward for ideas that may reduce risk and improve the bottom line.

Barry Biggs, vice president of onshore operations at Hess, described the lean approach that the company has adopted, which includes using “an army of problem solvers.” Counter to their moniker, this cadre of key employees are not exclusively working on problems. He said that too often, operators are focused more on finding out what went wrong in an operation rather than what went right.

“Well, flip that. What is the root cause analysis of things you are doing well?” he asked. “It is a mental shift that we can use to try to drive improvement.”

He credited this business structure with helping Hess drive down costs by 50% in the Bakken Shale from 2012 to 2015. Biggs said it has also been critical in allowing the company to develop the Utica Shale faster than the Bakken despite the geologic differences of the two plays.

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Shale Industry Needs to Look Within for Solutions That Save

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

23 August 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 9