The dictionary defines “trend” as “a general tendency, as in events, conditions, etc.” Just as trends exist in culture, so do they exist in the oilfield. Where oilfield trends are concerned, however, the impetus for the change or tendency is generally economic in nature. Practicality drives oilfield trends. So does efficiency and innovation. All of these factor into the trends we share with you in the coverage that follows.
We drew from varied sources to compile this snapshot of oilfield trends in 2023. For specific information on trends in wireline (what we specialize in here at Integrity Wireline), browse our catalog of blogposts found on this page. Our trends are visible in the technological advances we have embraced.
Oilfield Trends in Field Service
As a necessary response to the digital-first shift in 2020, field service organizations implemented new processes and technologies to accommodate expanding service delivery requirements. The problem? Many of the digital solutions being developed for the field service industry, rushed into production, succeeded only in dulling the overall quality for the end customer.
Meanwhile, as the “new normal” (post-Covid) operations settle in, leading service providers recognize that their field technicians operate according to the redefined behaviors associated with consumers at large. Many of those expectations center around increased demand for expediency and improved customer service in contracted services.
A New Normal
Consumerism in field service calls for more transparency and interoperability between “paperwork,” service workflows, and field operations. Simply implementing a closed-loop field service workflow is insufficient for optimal employee performance and doesn’t take the “new normal” customer’s ramped-up expectations into account.
One of the most critical elements of any modern field service management system is interconnectivity and data transparency from the back office to the field, although many solutions aren’t up to snuff.
Oilfield Trends in the Sky
The data demonstrates that flaring—long a point of contention in the oilfield—has declined. Satellite-gathered information proves it.
Enverus Intelligence Research released a report on oil and natural gas emissions management. EIR investigated trends across global monthly flared volumes collected from third-party satellite data. The company’s report provides insights at the country, play, and operator level.
Matthew Holloway, an associate at EIR, observed that in the United States and Canada, flaring is sharply down.
Emissions Management? Trending UP
“The United States and Canada contributed 6 percent and 1 percent to global estimated flaring volumes—or 212 Bcf and 25 Bcf—over the 12 months ending in June 2022, respectively,” Holloway said. “Yet, the two countries accounted for 24 percent and 4 percent of 2021 global natural gas supply.
“This highlights the relative strength of North American emissions management programs. In contrast, Iraq and Iran released the most flared volumes at 15 percent and 14 percent of the global total, or 531 Bcf and 490 Bcf.”
Oilfield Trends, per an Insider
One reason to like industry analyst James Wicklund is that he is a champion of the services side of the industry. That was never more evident than when he shared remarks late in 2022 after attending an industry conference. (The conference was called “Thrive.”)
We share Wicklund’s takeaways from his Thrive occasion:
One big issue is low availability of quality labor. With three down-cycles in five years and energy demonized, good people are harder to find.
It is hard to add activity due to (lack of quality) people and a shortage of top flight equipment.
By the second half of ’23 or into 2024, the need for gas takeaway in the Permian will be strained.
Most expect another 50 or so rigs will be added this year from here.
E&Ps can just decide not to drill but OFS (Oilfield Services) has a very different dynamic.
Seventy percent (70%) of pressure pumping in the Permian is with just five players.
Privates (privately held companies) are good to work for but won’t make longer term commitments.
And We Close with a Handshake
And finally, this. Wicklund had some words about pricing—always a vital issue to service outfits:
“We have made the point before that while rigs and frac spreads are ‘committed’ through 2023 or so, the pricing of that work has not been set,” Wicklund said. “Companies care more about sure availability at this point, with pricing set with the market at the time, which for now continues to move up. This is one of those very rare moments where oilfield service companies hold the leverage. As people read that, they will immediately hear the rehearsed line in their heads, “We work in complete partnership with our customers as equals. There is no ‘leverage.’ The OFS world seems to get trampled by the E&P world what seems to be 90 percent of the time. But we can’t afford to be smug or think in terms of ‘leverage.’ We are shaking hands in partnership. But our grip just got stronger.”