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Energy Workforce & Technology Council 90th Anniversary
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Sector Highlights Safety Leadership and Technical Expertise 

2023 Safety & Technical Conference. Photo by Eric Draper

Sector leadership and safety experts met last week at the 2023 Safety & Technical Conference to exchange valuable insights, strategize for operational improvements, and discuss the critical task of mitigating compliance risks. Top sector leadership engaged in robust discussions about the nature of today’s workforce and the opportunities ahead in well servicing and well stimulation.

The two-day event in Galveston offered Members an exclusive market outlook from Austin Harbour, Managing Director, Piper Sandler, a behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. presidency from photographer Eric Draper, and an awards breakfast honoring the 2023 Safety Award winners. Energy Workforce Presidents Molly Determan and Tim Tarpley also offered Members a look at the Association and its growth plans.


Committee and Chapter Chair Luncheon. Photo by Eric Draper

The event kicked off with a Member’s luncheon where Committee and Chapter leadership shared a brief overview of their accomplishments and goals.

Speakers included Board Member Ron Gusek, Liberty Energy; Advisory Board Member Matt Hooker, Ranger Energy Services; Jordan West, Mustang Cat; Dawn Keske, Oceaneering; Amanda Jean, NOV; Kevin Northcutt, Endeavor Energy Resources; John Candler, SLB; Advisory Board Member Bruce Miller, SLB; Advisory Board Member James Prince, Baker Hughes; Advisory Board Member Elizabeth Stephens, HMH; Garrett Dobson, TechnipFMC; and Dustin Anderson, Kimray.

Workforce Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

As the sector undergoes dynamic transformations, the Workforce Panel shared insights into the complex landscape of talent acquisition, compliance and regional variations that companies must navigate to ensure their workforce thrives. Speakers included Shannon Craig, Chevron; R. Jason Hitchcock IV, Nine Energy Service; and Edward J. Newman, Lockton Global Energy & Transportation. The panel was moderated by Energy Workforce Advisory Board Member David de Roode, Lockton Global Energy & Transportation.

Compliance with multi-state regulations and collaboration between HR teams and internal recruiters is key, Craig said.

“If you operate in multiple states, your job postings have to be specific to different locations,” she said. “You should partner with your HR team, and make sure your internal recruiters are educated on that issue and have the support resources they need. It’s not a copy paste, because California, Colorado and Texas are completely different.”

Jason Hitchcock. Photo by Eric Draper

Hitchcock said education and training is vital to developing the workforce.

“We’ve seen an old-school mentality of just picking people off the street and throwing them into roles,” he said. “People can grow into a position of influence, but they need the leadership skills and support in order to succeed.”

Craig emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach to recruitment, especially when considering the relocation of professionals from other sectors.

“If we’re asking them to relocate, what does that package look like?” she asked, highlighting the importance of tailoring relocation packages, particularly for veterans as part of diversity and inclusion initiatives. “Are we offering them the same package as everybody else, or are we considering a unique approach?”

Newman said companies should assure there is a consistency of practice across the organization.

“You should be able to define exactly what the role is, what the expectations are and evaluate the employee based on those expectations, with a development plan in mind,” he said.

Rep. Randy Weber. Photo by Eric Draper

Rep. Randy Weber, R-TX-14, House Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke to the audience at the opening night reception, highlighting his appreciation of the industry.

“Energy is what America does best,” Rep. Weber said. “And educating the public, especially the younger generations, about that fact is extremely important to the future of the industry.”

HSE Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

Moderator Gary Childress, Oil States International, brought a look into the relationship between service companies and manufacturers with customer operators around the world during the HSE Panel on day two, with discussion around contractor management, sustainability and best practices.

Panelists included Ajah Shah, Chevron; Dustin Minton, Continental Resources; and Kevin Northcutt, Endeavor Energy Resources.

In terms of contractor management, Minton said that working cohesively together can ensure that checks and balances are taken care of in a process that combines into a positive outcome for both companies.

“We simply want to take care of each other,” he said. “We need to ensure compliance and provide transparent accountability expectations both ways. By streamlining our incident and corrective action reporting, we’re creating a process that works for both parties.”

Shah said that a lesson learned with Chevron has been creating sustainable safety practices.

Kevin Northcutt. Photo by Eric Draper

“A big driver of better results is getting a better understanding of the real challenges our partners face. If we’re asking better questions, we can design our systems and train our people in the right competencies with the right equipment,” Shah said. “When we’re looking at contractors, they’re the specialists. They are much more knowledgeable about the specific jobs. So bring that to the conversation so that we can have a conversation about the safety aspects, but also the financial aspects across our global markets.”

Northcutt said that current contractor challenges include a lack of communication regarding operations, turnover and the tight job market with skilled labor.

“I think we’re evolving and getting better with actual business practices,” he said. “We want to have backup plans and don’t want to cause hardship with our contractors.”

Well Servicing Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

Key players in the sector engaged in a dialogue during the Well Servicing Panel about the changing dynamics of the industry, from evolving work culture to the need for consolidation. Advisory Board Member Matt Hooker, Ranger Energy Services, moderated the panel, which featured Board Vice Chair Scott Livingston, NOV; Advisory Board Member Melissa Cougle, Ranger Energy Services; and Advisory Board Member Jim Wicklund, PPHB.

“This market moves at a pace that’s unparalleled, and there’s a lot of momentum in the services space,” Cougle said. “Operators are finally willing to loosen their belts and start to let us play along.”

However, with continuing supply chain challenges, diversification is key.

“The biggest lesson we’ve learned in this period is the need to diversify our sources of supply,” Livingston said. “And that’s not simply going to another vendor to get the same thing. The benefits of nearshoring can be flexibility in lead times and the responsiveness of capital efficiency.”

Livingston also mentioned the tight labor market the services and manufacturing companies have been dealing with.

“On the manufacturing side, we find it difficult to recruit young engineers, welders and electricians. Work-life balance is a key issue, and we’re having to look outside of our traditional recruiting locations,” he said.

Well Servicing Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

Cougle agreed, stating that the next generation has unique talents that need to be nurtured.

“How do you tap into those talents and keep them highly engaged?” she asked. “One of the challenges is how do we create the value proposition for the next wave of employees?”

Wickland remarked that the industry has needed consolidation, and with the advances of artificial intelligence, automation and other technological improvements, companies are ripe for mergers.

“The realization now that we are a mature industry and not a growth business anymore, is changing people’s attitudes,” Wicklund said. “The path to consolidation is clear.”

Sen. Mayes Middleton. Photo by Eric Draper.

Texas Sen. Mayes Middleton joined Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley for a fireside chat during the Political Luncheon.

Sen. Middleton discussed the impacts oil and gas has made to the economy of Texas, as well as the importance of the industry globally. He also highlighted the ways Energy Workforce companies can harness opportunities through the Texas orphaned well plugging program and the policy priorities for the Texas Senate in the next legislative session.


Well Stimulation Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

Technology is a driving factor in the sector, and the impact of evolving efficiencies and innovation on service providers is providing a safer environment for workers.

Speakers on the Well Stimulation panel included Matt Wilks, ProFrac Services; Energy Workforce Board Member Sam Sledge, ProPetro Services; and Board Member Ron Gusek, Liberty Energy; with moderator Kevin Northcutt, Endeavor Energy Services.

Wilks discussed the positive effects of technology on cost reduction and efficiency.

“Utilization costs have come down significantly, making wells more affordable and reliable,” he emphasized. “Customers are benefitting from these new technologies as they demand more from service providers.”

Sledge said electrification is making the working environment much safer for field employees.

“We’re going to be working with equipment that just needs less ‘tender loving care.’ For our teams, that’s paramount,” he said. “We’re all headed towards working with next generation equipment that will allow us to build and work with assets that last longer, making us more profitable.”

Well Stimulation Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

Gusek echoed the sentiment, adding that the industry is becoming more nimble and adaptive to change. He emphasized the need to prepare field crews for the evolving technology landscape, noting the rapid transition from older equipment to more advanced alternatives.

“I think about what pressure pumping looked like for the first decade or 15 years, and it was relatively stable. Not a huge amount of change took place in the field. And now I think about what we’re asking our field crews to navigate through — a relatively rapid transition towards next generation technology,” Gusek said. “It’s a little bit of a different world, especially for our longer lived guys in the field.”

Gusek also spoke about how the industry is responding to concerns over environmental and community impacts. He stressed the industry’s focus on minimizing its footprint, from reducing truck traffic and minimizing noise to optimizing logistics.

“I think the industry has made huge steps forward in terms of minimizing the impact of these things,” Gusek said. “All of our organizations certainly very focused on on logistics optimization.”

Wilks agreed that improved technologies have had a societal impact.

“We’re working right next to families and communities. So we have to coexist, and as an industry, we’ve really stepped up and shown how innovative we are, especially on the services side.”


The final panel of the conference addressed road safety measures and mitigating risks.

Transportation Risk Panel. Photo by Eric Draper

Panelists included Elizabeth Rivers, Berkley Oil & Gas; Michael Smith, Permian Road Safety Coalition; Megan Winchell, Universal Pressure Pumping; Ed Newman, Lockton Global Energy & Transportation; and moderator David de Roode, Lockton Global Energy & Transportation and an Energy Workforce Advisory Board Member.

The discussion highlighted the critical importance of addressing transportation risks.

“It goes without saying that road safety is the number one non-technical risk we face in the Permian Basin today,” Smith said.

Winchell highlighted the critical role of driver qualification and selection processes.

“We have a defensive driving program that we put all of our drivers through,” she said. “Roads often are not capable of handling oilfield traffic. We track the metrics and dedicate programs to fix driving behaviors.”

A break-out session covered the upcoming SecureWell Well Control Certification Program, with speakers Gary Olliff, Brigade Energy Services; Advisory Board Member Matt Hooker, Ranger Energy Services; Steve Vorenkamp, Vorenkamp Well Control Training; and Merle Hellickson, Consultant.

The other break-out session involved a discussion on in-vehicle monitoring systems, with Allen Hughes, Select Water Solutions; Jeff Martin, Lytx; and Ed Newman and David de Roode, Lockton Global Energy & Transportation.

Energy Workforce would like to thank all of the panelists and participants for contributing to the event.




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