Managing Oilfield Service Cost Inflation in a Tight Labor Market

“Oilfield service cost inflation and access to quality crews might be a constraint for some. The challenge for E&P companies is most will budget revenues conservatively (to the strip) but the reality is costs could escalate to reflect closer to strip prices if activity levels increase more. At our $54/bbl price deck, we see 0-5% service cost inflation but at strip prices closer to 10-12% is probable. Some of these costs can be offset with drilling and completion efficiencies but that is likely limited to around 5%, on average.” – RBC

In 2018, analysts expect to see a 20% increase in the horizontal rig count and a 50% increase in additional frac fleets in Lower 48. The recent oil price rally and a relatively bullish commodity price outlook have sent E&P and oilfield service (OFS) companies scrambling to position themselves for increased demand.
Drilling & Completions Market Day Rate

As overall oilfield activity increases, the demand for contingent labor rises. According to RigUp data, the number of jobs in OFS nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017. It’s likely that we’ll continue to see those numbers rise this year.

Oilfield Activity

Take Midland — a good indicator for oilfield job trends. In mid-2017, employment growth was outpacing labor force growth by double, and unemployment was nearing historic lows. As we saw in 2011-2012, a labor market this tight leads to OFS cost inflation and a significant degree of difficulty sourcing high quality contractors.

Midland Unemployment

 

As unemployment drops below 3%, the challenge of sourcing contractors isn’t limited to small companies. Even large majors and OFS companies struggle to acquire and keep high quality contingent labor, despite housing large, dedicated human resources functions.


Wall Street analysts expect a 70% increase in frac fleet demand and a 25% increase in horizontal rig demand this year. As we exit this cyclical trough in commodity prices, E&Ps and OFS companies are looking to quickly and efficiently scale their operations. And they’re turning to RigUp to access high quality contractors at competitive prices, which is critical to mitigating rising services costs. The old labor sourcing method of using fragmented consulting firms and small job-placement services doesn’t work in a world where rig efficiency and frac intensity are increasing while cycle times decrease.

Public versus Private Jobs

Let’s look at major services companies. Many today have chosen to partner with RigUp.  As demand for oilfield services picked up, their traditional methods for sourcing crews broke down. Historically, these companies were beholden to antiquated supply chain tools and a phone and email tag system that led to unread emails and missed phone calls going to hundreds of fragmented labor providers.

In this upcycle, that way of doing business is slow and limited. Major oilfield service companies needed quick, reliable access to highly qualified skilled labor and a network large enough to handle requests across the Lower 48.

By using RigUp’s platform to source contractors, these major companies saw a threefold increase in their overall sourcing speed and a 40% decrease in contractor onboarding. That equates to crews getting to work more quickly and, from the outset, working more effectively.

And even more important for long-term cost control and labor retention, these oilfield service companies are no longer flying blind. RigUp’s analytics gives their partners insight into important market data — like current, location-specific market pricing — to help them manage labor costs and remain competitive as oilfield activity intensifies.

And at the end of the day, the contractors are happy, too. They get paid faster, and take home more of their pay. They also tell their friends about RigUp, which makes our network across the country incredibly strong. No matter where you’re operating, RigUp likely has a strong pool of contingent labor ready to get to work.

 

Oilfield Consulting Firm Transparency : Take Rate vs Billing Rate

We often find that contractors and consultants are NOT fully aware of the ‘take rate’ that they are being charged by their oilfield consulting firm, nor the benefits (if any) they are receiving in return.

While there are plenty of reputable oilfield consulting firms, there are also many questionable ones.  These non-transparent firms have created an environment where hard working people are consistently taken advantage of.  An informed contractor is the best contractor.  So, whether or not RigUp is the best option for you right now, make sure you are asking the right questions, and making an informed decision.

What is my Take Rate?

We define ‘take rate’ as the difference between how much an oilfield consulting firm invoices to their client (gross billable rate), and the amount the firm pays the contractor (net pay). Very simply, if a consultant’s gross billable rate is $1,000 per day, and the consultant takes home $900, then the ‘take rate’ is 10%.

RigUp offers the lowest take rates in the industry, on average 10% lower than competition.  You will take home an extra $30,000 per year

What is my Billing Rate?

Discovering your billable rate should be as easy as asking your oilfield consulting firm. However, RigUp has learned it’s not always as simple as that. And without your billable rate, it can be difficult to calculate what you’re actually being charged. RigUp has come across multiple cases of firms lying to consultants about their billable rate, making the consultant believe they had a lower take rate than they were actually receiving.  In one such case, we found a consultant that believed he was at 5% for almost a year before discovering a firm had actually been pocketing 17%.

The best way to actually confirm your billable rate is to see a signed invoice from the client.  It shouldn’t be a tough ask, but as you can imagine, sometimes firms don’t want to provide this.

At RigUp, we are happy to offer billable rate verification at any time.  What we bill and what you receive is 100% transparent.  As an independent business owner, this is your right.

About RigUp

RigUp empowers the men and women of oil and gas, leveraging software to provide the best experience in the industry. RigUp gives service providers exactly what they deserve.  The lowest rates, the guaranteed fastest pay, best in class insurance and benefit options, easy to use mobile and desktop app, and the friendliest 24/7 support team in the world. With a customer satisfaction score 55% above the industry average, having RigUp as an oilfield consulting firm option sells itself to contractors. To learn more about RigUp’s consulting program visit rigup.com/contractors.