Operators have a new mindset when it comes to
field operations: total cost of ownership (TCO) rules the day. Unplanned
downtime is the enemy of today’s 24/7 operations. In the span of just a few
short years, maintenance has become an activity that’s viewed as absolutely
essential, to ensure equipment lasts longer to withstand around the clock use,
while maximizing companies’ capital expenditures.
longevity is more important than ever. No matter the current pricing environment,
companies work continuously to drive the costs of producing a well lower and
lower. Equipment looks and operates in a very different manner from the way it
did five years ago. Individual pieces of equipment may be more expensive than
in the past; however, there are fewer of them on-site, and they run for longer periods
Fracing operations are now running 24/7.
Practices, such as simul-frac and connecting frac pads to each other, speed up
the fracing process, but they take away downtime that was previously used to
perform maintenance. Equipment must now run longer and more reliably than
New technologies and appropriate maintenance
work together to make this possible. For example, while traditional frac pumps
with traditional fabricated frames have lifespans of around 1,500 hrs before an
overhaul is required, a single-piece frame, such as the SPM™ WS 335 Frac Pump,
can last 6,000 hrs before overhaul is required, with proper preventative
and TCO are priorities. Preventative maintenance is
key to keeping fracing equipment running smoothly, and operators and oilfield
service companies are now eager to ensure it happens. While maintenance may
have been ignored in the past, companies now realize that preventative
maintenance is essential to avoiding major failures in the field that can cause
The greatest hindrance to maintenance today
isn’t a lack of will; it’s knowledge. Continued workforce challenges have made
it difficult for crews to possess the experience to perform proper maintenance
schedules—especially if a variety of equipment is used.
Service contracts have become invaluable to
ensuring uptime and equipment reliability. With SPM Oil & Gas’ service
contracts, for example, the correct maintenance is conducted on the correct
schedule, and companies are advised of specific procedures, processes and
intervals that can optimize their entire frac site. Being mindful of NPT,
preventative maintenance is performed when equipment is stopped as part of
Standardizing on equipment providers is
another way companies are seeking to improve TCO and reduce costs. Rather than
rent a large bore, zipper fracs and flowback iron from three different sources
and accommodate three different crews, companies are choosing to source
equipment from a single supplier to have one crew on-site, operating all three
pieces. This reduces labor costs while also simplifying maintenance
Additionally, automation is increasingly used
in the field to help reduce costs—and increase safety. New technology can
automate opening, closing and greasing equipment, eliminating the need for
human intervention for monitoring valves around the clock to keep them running.
This lowers costs and improves site safety.
don’t have time to leave the field for replacement parts or request repair
personnel to be dispatched to the job site. In the past, such practices led to
components being used much longer than advised, leading to unplanned downtime.
Utilizing on-site parts trailers ensures parts
are immediately available when needed. Parts trailers are a vital element of
service contracts, including our own, and help ensure a readily available
supply that perfectly aligns with prescribed maintenance protocols.
All of these elements taken together create a
seamless, streamlined, integrated ecosystem. For optimal TCO, efficiency and
costs, it’s crucial to combine the right maintenance with the right knowledge
and the right parts.
constant is change. As
anyone in the industry knows, the oil and gas sector continuously evolves.
Equipment, as well as service capabilities, evolves to support companies’
changing requirements. The ability to be on-site—with parts—to perform
preventative maintenance properly adds tremendous value to companies’ efforts
in the fields. Such capabilities help companies achieve greater success on the
job and position them to potentially win more business. Finding
the right service partner is a key component for successful operations in 2023
and beyond. WO
ALEX FLORES is
Vice President of Service for SPM Oil & Gas, a Caterpillar company. His oil
and gas career spans 19 years and multiple roles of increasing responsibility
within SPM™ Oil & Gas. In his current role, Mr. Flores focuses on improving
customers’ operations through the strategic deployment of service resources in
the field and utilization of lean principles in workshops to reduce NPT and