Tooling Up |

Tooling Up

The oil tools sector relies on old school and new tech to ride the Permian wave.

By Paul Wiseman

How do you mix new technology with old-school values to stay abreast of customers’ ever-changing operations?

This sharing of knowledge boosts teamwork in ways not possible before.

Two Permian-based downhole tools companies are using different approaches to do just that.

For longtime Odessa firm Cagle Fishing and Rental, LTD, new technology centers on better internal communication and information. The company opened for business in 1972 and now has offices in Odessa, Big Lake, and Andrews.

Odessa Manager Randy Adams says technology has put much more knowledge at their fingertips in two ways.

First, there’s “The technology of being able to get information fast,” he said. “In our field of work, you may be working on something one day,” and not do that job again for a while. “And you may… be running a tool you may not run again for two years.

“Years ago, we had 14 million books in our truck,” he recalled with a laugh, which took some time to sort through. Since around 2000, all that paper has morphed into soft copies stored on a hard drive. Even that change was gradual, as the earliest soft copies were too big to fit onto a hard drive. Keeping up with collections of memory sticks and later, external hard drives were the norm—but still much better than dragging huge reference books around, especially onto offshore platforms.

“Now, of course, with the telephones the way they are, if you have time, you can go to the internet,” to e-books, so that a simple Google search can quickly bring up a host of possible answers.

And while a homeowner can quickly find a video on replacing a faucet, Adams says videos are scarce on fishing tool topics. Only a few of the larger service companies have budgets for that.

They employ design software to adapt tools to the requirements of longer laterals.

The second benefit of technology also revolves around the phone, but less on the Google side. Before signing on with Cagle, Adams spent several years in the Middle East with a major service company, where he met a host of experts and gained extensive knowledge himself.

Those people are now just a phone call away, wherever they are. “If I run across something I haven’t seen, I’ve got guys all over the world I can pick up and call. And the way the technology is, you’re not calling for four or five days before you get an answer,” he said.

In Adams’s view, this sharing of knowledge boosts teamwork in ways not possible before. But not all companies may take full advantage of this shared knowledge. In some companies, he said, “One guy won’t tell the other guy anything because he’s afraid [the other guy] is going to take his job. Here (at Cagle), I don’t want to TKTKTKTKTKTK somebody that doesn’t want my job.”

“As far as the tools themselves, they haven’t changed a whole lot. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said
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