NCS Energy Services: ‘Leave Nothing Behind’
By: Fadeke Adegbuyi
When the oil and gas industry experienced a horizontal well boom and shifted away from vertical drilling, NCS Energy Services saw a niche that needed to be filled and set out to redesign their “Mongoose” tool system to operate effectively in horizontal well applications. Just a few years later, they have been named the “2013 Well Completion Company of the Year in the Southeast United States” at the Oil and Gas Awards by a panel of 50 judges representing operating companies, universities, and industry press.
NCS Energy Services has become well known for their Multistage UnlimitedTM Frac System. Their unique frac sleeves allow for unlimited frac stages and spacing, precise frac location, and reduced fluid, time and cost. A former method of operation, which utilized abrasive cutting of the casing to gain reservoir access, has been almost entirely replaced by the newer Multistage UnlimitedTM system.
“As a whole, the industry has realized the efficiency and speed of using frac sleeves – it offers economic advantages,” says Eric Schmelzl, the Vice President of Strategic Business with NCS Energy Services. To date, the company has more than 23,000 frac sleeves in service, has completed over 3,500 wells with over 50,000 frac stages, completed 62 frac stages in a single well, and has mitigated more than 2,030 screen outs without an extra trip into the well.
NCS Energy Services was not the first company to market and utilize a frac sleeve. The company saw the shortcomings of existing sleeve products and seized an opportunity to improve on the design to add value. “In the early days, what others lacked was a bottom hole assembly to reliably operate frac sleeves,” says Schmelzl. By designing the frac sleeve and the BHA to work together, the NCS system produces a highly reliable and repeatable field operation. “Innovation is born out of need, and the innovation that the Canadian oil patch has brought to the industry as a whole is unparalleled anywhere in the world,” he adds.
Today, the company employs approximately 120 people. NCS Energy Services’ exceptional reputation has attracted the attention of skilled and qualified personnel, who are eager to work with the firm and apply their years of oilfield experience. That said, the majority of people who work at NCS Energy Services have been hand picked and personally selected. “Many of the best people in the industry are interested to come and work for us,” says Schmelzl. “We’ve developed systems that produce exceptional success rates, which is almost unheard of in the oil and gas industry,” says Schmelzl.
NCS Energy Services also hires contractors who visit well sites and execute operations on location. On any given day, NCS Energy Services has 10-12 field crews out performing operations. The company places priority and resources on training contractors in their corporate standards and the use of their systems, an investment that continues to pay dividends in service quality.
Customer communication and co-operation has also been a key to NCS Energy Services’ success. “Several of the company’s largest clients have been instrumental in allowing us to conceive, develop and bring to market some unique products and services,” says Schmelzl. These mutually beneficial relationships have resulted in new innovations, and continued success for all parties. As an example, NCS has recently introduced a new, closable frac sleeve. Tremendous challenges exist to develop a frac port that can be pumped through with large quantities of proppant and fluid, and then closing that port to produce an effective hydraulic seal. “It’s not an easy feat to develop something that is reliable in that environment, but we’ve developed an effective solution and the field trials have been very successful to date,” says Schmelzl. This advance will allow operators to frac a well and selectively choose which segments of the wellbore are stimulated or produced, a feature that will cut the operational risks and allow for enhanced reservoir management.
NCS Energy Services offers its services in China, Mexico, and Russia with plans for additional expansion in South America. However, further development is not without its challenges and some countries are wary of developing their resources with new or unfamiliar methods. “The perception of oil and gas operations in some countries is very different than in North America,” says Schmelzl. “It can take significant time to effectively introduce services that we take for granted in North American operations, but the value is eventually recognized.”
“Our corporate focus is on speed and efficiency, but most importantly doing the right thing for the reservoir,” says Schmelzl. NCS Energy Services ensures that the method they recommend for completing a well promotes the long-term viability of the well and ensures that the recovery of the targeted resource is not placed at risk. “NCS is very focused on doing the right thing for the rock, not necessarily what makes the bigger press release, “ says Schmelzl.
NCS Energy Services applies the principle of “responsible resource recovery” to their operations by utilizing techniques that avoid risking the ultimate resource recovery, and minimizing environmental impact. The company abides by the motto “Leave nothing behind”; a philosophy referring both to their ability to provide unobstructed wellbores after completion, and the recovery of the resources themselves. “We want to ensure that our children and their grandchildren will have the resources available to them, that are today entrusted to our care,” says Schmelzl.