When it comes to oilfield water handling, Myers Well Service is one of the best in the business.
NFL defensive end J.J. Watt once said, “Success isn’t bought. It’s leased, and the rent is due every day.” That’s the approach Myers Well Service takes as the leading oilfield water hauling firm in the Appalachian Basin. The family-owned enterprise, founded in 2010 by father-and-son team David and Matt Myers, takes on the tough challenges of keeping water moving for energy operators in the area’s shale plays.
Based just 22 miles east of Pittsburgh in Export, Pa., Myers Well Service operates in that state as well as in Ohio and West Virginia. What began as a small business with a single employee and one truck is one of the region’s top performers, owning and operating a fleet of over 70 trucks and three full-service facilities in two states, employing roughly 250 people, with annual revenues around $50 million.
Water is an essential component of hydraulic fracturing during the drilling and fracturing processes. Water and other materials are injected into shale formations at high pressure to open small fractures from which trapped resources can be produced. Water is also necessary to keep drill bits well lubricated and cool. The EPA estimates that each well on an oil patch requires 3 to 5 million gallons of water to operate; but that is always a varying figure.
Haulers face a unique and complex set of challenges, all of which Myers is fully equipped to handle. Because most of us don’t carry water as part of our daily lives, it’s easy to forget just how heavy it is. Sixty gallons of water can weigh over 500 pounds. For a well using 3 million gallons of liquid, that’s a haul of hundreds of tons when all is said and done. That water has to keep moving consistently to meet production goals, requiring specialized tanks, hoses, and strong chassis supports to make it all happen.
The fluid drawn out of the well may contain rock, mud, residual oil, and chemicals used in the fracking process. It’s also highly salinated; in the Appalachian Basin’s Marcellus Shale, the produced water can be much saltier than seawater. Hoses and pumps must be continually monitored to prevent leaks or breakage.
Driving the water from site to disposal systems is hardly straightforward; oilfields are often tucked away from commercial truck routes, and drivers must repeatedly navigate tough terrain that takes a real toll on truck axles, shock absorbers, tires, and wheel ends.
Myers Well’s fleet of trucks are outfitted for the heavy lifting necessary to meet their customers’ operational goals, and that means that they move continually. “We serve extremely demanding customers 24/7/365,” company COO Vince Azzolina said. “We don’t stop because energy never stops.”
Water hauling isn’t just picking up and delivering. “You have to follow strict safety protocols and best practices every time you get in and out of the truck,” he explained. Myers carefully measures every aspect of each trip from the field to water processing facilities, customer locations, or other designated sites and back, including the time it takes to load and unload fluid.
Flowback and production water, industry terms for the water and materials drawn out of a well with produced gas or oil, is generated consistently, and needs to be moved on a regular basis. Myers matches that consistent movement with its own methodical and efficient performance. “We're not just hauling one day here, two days there. We’re doing the same kind of route on a regular and consistent basis. This builds efficiencies,”Azzolina said.
Ownership Makes the Difference
Rather than lease their equipment, Myers owns it all. That approach gives them the ability to modify their equipment to meet the demands of each job. “When you’re leasing something, a lot of times the units are the same and following some sort of mileage program,” Azzolina said. “Our trucks are running hundreds of thousands of miles.”
“We know how long we’re going to keep equipment based on mileage and engine hours. We may make some changes to the fleet that are best for meeting project commitments, and owning the trucks gives us flexibility to do that.” The majority of fleet maintenance is done by the company’s in-house department, which gives them the agility to adapt and make rapid changes when needed.
“We’re not over the road. It would be different if we were hauling from Pittsburgh to Chicago every day. We're going to put some mustard on these trucks and they're going to go see the world a little bit,” he quipped.
Myers uses telematics to improve fleet performance and safety. “We’re always investing in technology that brings the best solutions to our customers, and we are becoming a better company because of that,” he said. The company also leverages maintenance barcode scanning for inventory tracking and communications software to stay in constant touch with drivers. Drivers go through regular, rigorous in-house training designed to reduce accidents, improve fuel consumption, and meet environmentally friendly practices.
Despite the fiercely competitive nature of the business and the grueling work at hand, the company’s family focused culture is a source of deep pride. “That's a testament to Matt and Dave and our ownership,” Azzolina said. “Matt does a great job of engaging with the employees and making them feel welcome, making them part of the team, and making them part of this family. He talks with them about his family and wants to hear about their families, and it’s not for show. It’s real.”
That kind of confident ownership empowers the people of Myers Well Service to make decisions while also challenging them to meet extremely high customer expectations. Azzolina credits clear vision and a disciplined approach to the company’s robust growth.
“To be the best you have to be committed to safety and teamwork, and care about the environment,” he stressed. “We have some of the best people in the region supporting that mission every single day. It’s hard work, and it’s a very challenging business. But we have the right people in place with the right vision and everybody’s on the same page and committing to our mission, and that’s what makes us so successful.”
Myers Well Service formed in 2010 and started with one employee, one truck, and one dream. Since then, the Company has kept a small business mentality all while growing with the ever-expanding oil and gas industry in the region.
Headquartered in Export, PA, the Company specializes in water hauling services in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Currently, the business has two principle operating locations. One in Eighty Four, PA; the other in Byesville, OH with investigations on re-expansion into West Virginia.
The Company fleet is believed to be the newest in the basin, while incorporating the latest technology and modifications to facilitate the most efficient and safest water hauling to its customers. Recognizing that a combination of newest and best equipment, the best-trained employees with a safety-first culture, and hiring quality people distinguishes the business as the clear oil and gas field trucking leader in Appalachia.