Expert Q&A: RigUp sits down with WoodMac’s R.T. Dukes

Where do we go from here?

As we progress through a volatile 2Q, we’re sitting down with one of the most well regarded E&P analysts on Wall Street to discuss the state of the North American upstream industry.

RT Dukes Image

RigUp: M&A in the Permian Basin remains a hot topic. This quarter we’re starting to see majors or larger E&Ps like Exxon and Marathon making sizable acquisitions in West Texas. Is this a signal that the consolidation is coming to an end? What do you expect in terms of M&A in 2Q 2017, particularly as it relates to the Permian Basin?

R.T. Dukes: There will be more, but there aren’t a host of companies looking to exit like there were 18 months ago. We’ll continue to see deals, but the next wave of consolidation will happen over a longer period and will be when economies of scale begin to matter. Add up guidance from many of the top operators, and it might be sooner than we think.

RigUp: Wall Street has dramatically increased Capex estimates for the back half of 2017 and into 2018. Based on your basin by basin analysis, is North America going to exceed production expectations for the year and if so, is that bearish for the commodity markets?

R.T. Dukes: That’s dependent on your expectations! With that, we’re on track to surpass the 2015 peak in oil production near the end of 2018. I suspect that probably outpaces what most people thought would happen. Of course, that could all change to be lower or higher if prices decide to settle closer to $40 or $60.

RigUp: Are we in a world now that should be focused on the “Call on Permian” instead of the “Call on OPEC”? Or is that still wishful thinking and posturing?

R.T. Dukes: The Permian is a significant player on the global stage, but it’s not big enough to single handedly suppress prices for a long time. It will create problems in years that demand growth slips or when global supply outperforms. That will cause year to year problems, but in the long-term, it’s not the sole price setter.

RigUp: Given the strength in production growth in West Texas, there’s some scuttlebutt that we’ll run into takeaway capacity issues starting later this year. What are your thoughts?

R.T. Dukes: We definitely could, but the pipes are on the way. We don’t expect any prolonged blowout in prices due to takeaway capacity. The problems are intra-regional and on the other side of those long haul pipes. Many of the major producers plan to produce so much they need to think about who their buyers are and securing demand for their production.

RigUp: Shifting conversation about takeaway capacity to the Northeast, what are your thoughts on basis differentials in the Northeast? How big of an impact is Rover Phase 1 going to have on the market? Do E&Ps adopt an even more aggressive productive behavior thereafter?

R.T. Dukes: It’s not just Rover, but the other pipes that will add Northeast connectivity too. Add all the projects together and the region looks set to have excess capacity for a few years post 2018. As a result, producers are going to realize prices that are much better than what they’ve seen in recent history.

RigUp: For the last 6 months, the industry has been talking about “core natural gas wells” having been drilled and completed already. What’s your opinion there?

R.T. Dukes: We’ve seen high grading to the highest degree over the past couple of years with oil and gas prices seeing cyclical lows. That is changing on the oil side as operators are already stepping out, but there’s still a big inventory of core natural gas wells that have yet to be drilled. Above $3 natural gas, we’ll see more drilling outside of just the Marcellus and Haynesville.

RigUp: RigUp’s marketplace has seen the market visibly tighten for frac for 1Q this year. In some cases, based on geographical and technical requirements, there’s no spot availability until June 2017. What’s your perspective on the medium-term and long-term supply / demand for frac horsepower in North America?

R.T. Dukes: Costs are going up! The jobs are bigger, and we’re going to need more HHP than we had in 2014. Barring a price shock to the downside, we’ve probably seen the lows in completion costs and the name of the game is back to managing those costs. The industry seems to underestimate how big those swings can be, and we’ll need new horsepower sooner than most believe.

RigUp: Could you go into further detail concerning completion design strategies that E&P companies are deploying currently?

R.T. Dukes: Bigger has been better, but we’re starting to see that normalize. We’ve seen diminishing returns in certain areas as operators use more than 1,500-2,000 pounds of proppant per foot. While proppant and completion prices were low, operators had the luxury of pushing the limits. Now that costs are going up, we expect we’ll hear talk of more efficient completions utilizing the right amount of proppant, water, horsepower, etc.

RigUp: Specific to oil and gas technology, what’s the current state of the industry and their willingness to modernize? At RigUp, we’ve been blessed with a strong contingent of supportive and transformational companies that have championed our adoption. But at the same token, we’ve been told by certain operators that the internet just won’t work in oil and gas. What’s your take? Will the technology adopters win?

R.T. Dukes: I’ve seen it my entire career covering oil and gas: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We’ll always have companies like that as long as they can capture reasonable margins, but we’re not in a world where anyone expects $5 natural gas or $100 oil. The potential margin just isn’t as big as it was. A lot of people believe we’ve already cracked the code, and everything here will be small gains. The problem with not worrying about small gains today is they add up to big savings over time. Technology is as important as ever, and I suspect those companies that are avoiding tech are much more likely to be the next casualties of the shale revolution.

To learn more about Wood Mackenzie, visit woodmac.com.

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10 Predictions in Oilfield Services for 2017 – An interview with Infill Thinking’s Joseph Triepke

As 2017 gets off to a start, RigUp is sitting down with some of our industry’s most respected experts to share their insight, thoughts, and wisdom as we exit a tumultuous downturn in the commodity markets. Our conversation today with oilfield service veteran Joseph Triepke should provide some insight into how we prepare for the recovery and what to expect in oilfield services this year.


Joseph Triepke, Infill ThinkingJoseph Triepke
is the founder & principal research analyst of InfillThinking.com, an independent oil and gas business research firm. For approximately a decade, Joseph analyzed the oil service and drilling industry for large Wall Street institutions. In 2016, he launched a new industry facing market research firm: Infill Thinking. The firm provides clear updates to oilfield decision makers, exposing new angles on stories and trends that really matter.


Q: After the dust has settled it seems like everyone is ready and anxious for the race back up. The balance seems to be rising service pricing balanced against equipment reactivations and supply reintroductions to the market, what are your thoughts?

A: As far as I’m concerned, your read on the market is spot on. The service space is chomping at the bit, eager to feast after several years of famine. During Q1 2017, we are looking for market share leaders in virtually every segment to push pricing higher. Reactivations are coming, but we may be in a sweet spot for service pricing improvement to start the year as prices are still generally too low to justify large scale reactivations. That could change after a few rounds of re-pricing.

Q: If pricing power returns as you expect, where do you think we start to see the inflection first?

A: Prices will likely first start to inflate across the completions supply chain, starting with pressure pumping. In fact, frac pricing started to inch up during Q4 2016. Double digit increases in frac pricing will be commonplace early this year as calendars are filling up for available spreads. Drilling rig day rates are another area to watch for inflation. The land rig market as a whole remains grossly oversupplied, but the higher end of the market is much tighter than the weekly rig count suggests. For example, super spec rig utilization is tracking above 80% industry wide. Historically this is the utilization level where pricing power returns to contractors.

Q: Since the fall, there’s been a lot of discussion and anxiety over potential future sand constraints (and in some cases, fears that sand constraints could actually limit US supply). From the conversations you’re having with pressure pumping providers and service companies, what’s the outlook on frac sand?

A: At this point, no one we talk with is concerned with frac sand supply in the Lower 48. By that we mean sand is plentiful at the basin level in the biggest plays. Consumption is tracking at about half of 2014 peak levels. We talked to the largest pumper of sand in late December and were told that water supply (while nothing to panic over) is more of a challenge than sand supply. What’s more concerning to us is potential bottlenecks in last mile logistics, meaning proppant delivery from transload facilities to well sites. This is where we see a potential choke point worth monitoring early this year.

Q: Any other gating factors or potential bottlenecks we should be on the lookout for?

A: I’m keeping an eye on labor. The highest quality workers have been or are being called back. The further down the call lists contractors move, the more issues you might have. And you could start to see wage pressure too, starting this quarter in particularly active basins like the Permian. With tens of thousands of workers returning to O&G, we’ll soon start to see just how many of the downturn’s casualties have permanently left the industry.

Q: The theme of “decoupling” services and flattening the multi-level supply chain emerged in the last commodity upcycle and the E&Ps that were early to that theme benefitted in the last downcycle – it also happens to be one of the key value propositions of RigUp – what are your thoughts on this theme as the industry goes back to work in 2017?

A: Taking costs out of the system structurally rather than cyclically is more important than ever. So too is finding structural efficiencies. The Lower 48 D&C activity recovery at oil prices half of prior highs has been impressive. To us, it underscores the critical importance of permanent cost savings. As service pricing reflates, we can’t lose efficiencies or this recovery won’t last long. I think that’s where new solutions like RigUp come into play. The recent downturn catalyzed the adoption of new methods. The coming upturn will institutionalize these new methods.

Q: Everyone is predicting a flood of E&P M&A (led by the strength of Permian Basin takeouts), what are your thoughts on OFS M&A as we head into 2017? Are there more interesting deals that could ensue following the GE/Baker Hughes & CSL/BJ Services announcements late 2016?

A: There’s not as much consensus about a wave of OFS M&A as in E&P because of valuation arguments. But I think deal flow could surprise to the upside this year, due in part by an intense focus on adaptive technology by the leading players, similar to the GE/Baker deal you mentioned. As far as specific deals go, we recently identified four likely OFS buyers in a note to Infill Thinking subscribers.

Q: Given the valuation challenges, how do you see these deals getting done?

A: Look for companies to use their equity as valuation equalizing currency similar to what Patterson-UTI did in the Seventy-Seven Energy deal late last year. We could also see buyers chase more attractive values in the privately held space. As earnings visibility emerges and estimates are revised higher, valuation concerns could start to fade. My sense is bid/asks are closing in this early stage of the upturn, and we could see some significant deals signed soon.

Q: You mentioned technology as a driver of M&A. What themes are you seeing for innovation on the service side?

A: Brute force factors of unconventional development like lateral length, stage counts, and proppant volumes are beginning to test diminishing return boundaries. As this plays out, we see a big push toward gaining sub-surface clarity so that brute force factors can be harnessed more effectively. This is a focus point right now for OFS technologists. The industry still does not understand the complexity of nano-darcy rock, but innovators are working on advanced science to gain visibility and design around the complexities of unconventional formations.

Q: Do you have a prediction on the US rig count this year? There’s been lots of talk about a lower ceiling given efficiencies, do you subscribe to that view?

A: I do. I believe the rig count will be hard pressed to achieve prior cyclical highs. Same concept as the 1980s – we simply need fewer rigs going forward to unlock production. So far everyone’s been surprised by the strength in drilling activity. Before the OPEC meeting, I had forecast 2017 would close with about 815 rigs working. When I made that prediction, there were about 563 US land rigs working, and today we are already up to 640. I still think we finish the year under 1,000, but we could run up a little over 900 ceteris paribus.

Q: What about specific basins, especially the Permian Basin?

A: In the Permian, we’ve been forecasting aggressive 2017 growth for months. Shortly after the OPEC meeting in November, we projected 150 rigs would return to work in the basin (assuming OPEC’s actions backed their words). In just six weeks since then, 40 rigs have already gone back to work in the play. We are standing by our +110 additional rig expectation there, which is the highest we’ve seen from anyone for the Permian this year.

10 Predictions for Oilfield Services in 2017


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RigUp’s 2016 Year in Review

We started RigUp over two years ago to build the premier marketplace for oilfield services. Our product began as a mobile app for the field and has grown into the best-in-class procurement, compliance, and vendor management solution for the upstream industry.

We believe that through technology, E&P companies and service providers can connect and execute operations more efficiently and effectively. Proper stewardship means a safer environment and American energy independence. Over 150 E&Ps believe in our mission and goal and we are grateful for their support.

In 2017, we will continue to enhance our product offering to meet the needs of our users – some new features include streamlining the MSA process, eliminating the industry’s outdated “procure-to-pay” workflow, and ensuring 100% environmental and safety compliance across the service provider network. Clients have asked and we’ll continue to deliver. Look out for roll-outs of features that simplify the procurement of integrated services. We’re ready to show off our launch of bundled and packaged solutions utilizing various work scopes within a project.

It’s been a year of hard work for our team but the successes have been well worth it. Here are some highlights from the past year. We look forward to delivering you our very best in 2017 – stay tuned!

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Wall Street Journal      Bloomberg      Austin Business Journal      Redburn

Bidding & Procurement Using RigUp – 5 Ways Cabot and Silver Creek Succeed

In the last year, we have made significant improvements to our product to enhance usability for engineers, procurement professionals, and compliance managers within our online marketplace. RigUp has earned praise as “the best-in-class bidding & procurement solution for oil and gas.” While still keeping true to our core mission (helping operators and service companies connect more efficiently), we have listened intently to all user feedback, and continue to perfect and mold the platform to meet the needs of our ever growing user base.

To illuminate some of the changes that have taken place over the past year, RigUp turned to a few of our early adopters, Cabot and Silver Creek to analyze the impact. In our analysis, jobs were compared only if their work scope, location, and job requirements were identical from last year to this year.

Quote_Cabot Oil & Gast Corporation

Bidding & Procurement quote

As RigUp introduced more powerful bidding and procurement features such as bid templates, E&Ps and service companies alike have benefitted. For example, both E&P companies showed a significant increase in the number of unique service companies who submitted bids to win the work. Silver Creek had a 27% increase in submissions and Cabot saw well over double the amount of bid submissions over the span of one year. In addition, both E&Ps showed significant improvement in bid submission rates.

Bidding & Procurement Improvements

Despite WTI crude prices increasing 33%+ during the same time frame, Cabot saw costs savings ranging from 14% to 32% on RFQ’s year over year for identical job work scopes. These requests included coiled tubing unit packages, isolation tool work (well intervention), wireline pressure control equipment, coiled tubing motor and mill packages, and workover rig jobs.

Cost Savings Improvements

Silver Creek also saw cost savings of 9% on the same jobs over a similar year duration. The jobs being compared in Silver Creek’s analysis involve completion systems and well intervention by means of running new tubing on all wells with a liner hanger, liner-top packer, and toe-sleeve to test the liner prior to fracturing operations.


5 ways Silver Creek and Cabot leveraged RigUp to improve efficiency & reduce costs:

  1. Sourced more and new vendors through Open Market Bidding.
  2. Tapped into the power of RigUp Bid Templates to allow for apples to apples comparisons.
  3. Took advantage of RigUp’s permission settings and messaging functionality to make it easier for the technical owner and the purchaser to execute an RFQ much faster while maintaining security and transparency.  
  4. Utilized RFQ Reports which allowed for streamlined analysis of multiple bids – allowing Cabot and Silver Creek both to bid to more vendors.
  5. Awarding work and assigning call positions provided a clear call-out structure for their company men in the field.

To learn more about RigUp and sign up for FREE, visit rigup.com or give us a call at 512-501-5452.

RigUp helps Operators keep their workforce happy by offering Contractors More Jobs and More Money

RigUp Subcontracting Program Quote

American Resource Development, LLC (Ameredev) is an Austin based E&P company focused on the Permian Basin. Ameredev has successfully leveraged RigUp’s Subcontracting Program as a solution to help build out their oilfield crew to work on drilling, completions and production activities, which include Mud Engineers and Lease Operators.

Ameredev was able to get up and running with the RigUp Subcontracting Program in next to no time, onboarding 17 new contractors in less than a week, with each individual screened and ready to go in 24 hours.

Zach Boyd, Operations Superintendent at Ameredev provided some feedback on his recent experience with RigUp. He explained, “It’s a very simple process onboarding the Contract Personnel.”

Based on a company’s requirements, RigUp can perform background and reference checks, drug and alcohol screenings and the validation of training requirements to meet an organization’s standards. Once complete, contractors are ready to step foot on location and get to work.

Zach added, “RigUp allows ease of operations to assign work and is prompt and straightforward with invoicing.”

In addition to a seamless onboarding process, RigUp offers payroll administration for its subcontractors, including an easy way to log hours online. RigUp’s professional support team is always on-hand to assist both operators and contractors with any industry related challenges.

“The contractors have all been exceptionally pleased to be under the RigUp subcontracting umbrella. I have had very good feedback from the field,” says Zach Boyd.

The high level of satisfaction reported by RigUp’s subcontractors directly correlates to the benefits RigUp provides. By offering the best rates in the industry (substantially less than the standard of 15-20%), contractors take home more of their hard-earned money and receive it on-time, every two weeks. Since signing up to the RigUp program, the independent contractors performing work for Ameredev have realized a combined increase of more than 10% in their net earnings.

RigUp Subcontracting Program

Start leveraging RigUp’s subcontracting solutions for contingent labor today. Whether you’re a an Operator looking to build a team for your next project or an Independent Contractor looking for more work and more money, get in touch with us.

Sign Up as a Contractor consulting@rigup.com | 512-501-5452 x708

Sign Up as an Operator  |  support@rigup.com  | 512-501-5452                                         

Why We’re Here

When we set out to build RigUp, we wanted to build a business and a technology that would catalyze positive impact across a vital industry. We had hundreds of meetings with energy executives, field operations, petroleum engineers, and community groups about the state of the energy industry. A common theme of improving “trust” emerged; trust between the operators and service companies, trust between field operations and finance teams, and most importantly trust between communities and the companies operating in their backyards. RigUp is building technology to restore trust in the energy sector. We’re putting together a team of world-class petroleum and software engineers to solve problems that at one point in time seemed unsolvable.

To meet demand from a growing global middle class, McKinsey estimates that global energy resource productivity will have to increase at a 3.2% per annum rate going forward compared to a 1.7% per annum rate from 1990-2010. With 66% of oilfield workers set to retire in the next 10-15 years, the great men and women working in the energy industry have a large task at hand to meet the world’s energy needs. Improved productivity must come alongside stronger environmental stewardship and safety benchmarks, and modern technology is required to improve upon legacy platforms and processes.

RigUp helps producers and service companies visualize and manage assets on location. Using big data and analytics, we allow industry participants to optimize their assets for safety, efficiency, and higher environmental standards without sacrificing performance and economics. Asset level safety and tracking is key to formulating optimal development plans. Our team has a strong focus to reduce the “idiosyncratic risk” of field operations, and our platform will eliminate lapse time and disputes for service companies. We have partnered with a select group of operators and service companies as we begin testing the first version of our platform, and we look forward to bringing on additional partners in the coming months.

Recently, we closed a $3mn series seed round led by Founders Fund. We are humbled to have Founders Fund on board as our anchor investor. We’re proud to call Austin, Texas home and excited about fostering a great start-up engineering culture.

Here’s to the future, y’all.

– The RigUp Team