RockPile Energy Services, while a young company, is changing the game for frack and energy completion services.
The energy completion services industry is a big space with big players. Breaking into the field is easy enough, but sustaining a company built for the long haul is tough. It’s even harder in 2016, a time when oil prices have fluctuated wildly and are currently at historic lows.
The industry needed a player to raise the bar on safety, quality, and efficiency. RockPile Energy Services was just the company for the job.
“When I started RockPile, I knew that for this company to succeed we’d have to do things better than everyone else,” said Curt Dacar, Founder and CEO of RockPile Energy Services.
“Pretty much anyone can go out and buy what you need to have a frack company. We work very hard to build a best-in-class culture. We hire and train the right people, and have learned to not only manage, but exceed, client expectations.”
A Brief History
Dacar founded the company in 2011, with the executive and operational team coming on board in early 2012. His 30-plus years of experience in the industry has resulted in extensive knowledge of pressure pumping value chain, engineering/design, sales, contract negotiations, and field operations, making him the perfect candidate to bring such an innovative company to life.
The core of RockPile Energy’s business is hydraulic fractioning, but Dacar has added other services to expand its client base. From chemical optimization and proppant transportation, to pump down services and cased hole wireline and workover rigs, RockPile is able to offer industry-leading services throughout North Dakota and Texas.
To expand on its initial foray into the industry, RockPile Energy purchased a small workover business in North Dakota in 2013, bringing three rigs into the business. Dacar added another three in 2014, and bought another company called American Well Services, bringing the fleet up to 12 rigs. These strategic moves opened the door to RockPile Energy entering the 24-hour rig business.
“Clients are moving toward more of a 24-hour rig service. We’ve custom built several of our rigs to be more heavy duty for the workload they will have to encounter for this type of service. We’ll continue to upgrade and move more and more of their rigs to service these 24-hour clients.”
Currently, between 25-30 percent of its fleet run 24-hour workover operations, all in the Williston Basin in North Dakota. The company’s success here guided its leadership to determine that expansion into West Texas could lead to similar, if not better, fiscal results.
Expanding into Texas
There weren’t just fracking opportunities in Texas: cased hole wireline plug and perforation expertise was needed too. 2015 was the perfect time for RockPile Energy to expand. Well, not perfect, given the beginning of depressed oil prices.
“Work in the Williston Basin had slowed greatly. A lot of operators decided they wanted to back off and watch what oil prices were going to do before completing new wells,” Dacar said.
“RockPile had always wanted to diversity its basin exposure throughout the U.S. At Williston, every time we scaled up, the clientele there took up that capacity. But that changed in the Fall of 2015: if we were going to move, it was the time to do it.”
Dacar and his executive team were confident in what they had built in North Dakota, and believed RockPile Energy’s footprint would also do well in Texas. For the five years RockPile has been in business, the company has specialized in horizontal wells.
This was just the service expertise the energy industry in West Texas was looking for.
“We proved our capabilities very early, and were able to get traction in the industry very quickly. After just a couple of months we were already growing our capacity, and we’re adding more as we speak.”
Today, about 60 percent of RockPile Energy’s business is in North Dakota, and the other 40 percent is in West Texas.
Proppant Box Innovation
This expansion and success during depressed oil prices wouldn’t be possible if RockPile Energy was not so committed to researching and innovations and technology to drive efficiencies and set the standard for such in the industry.
“We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient. For us, it’s about the number of frack stages we can do in a 24-hour cycle. We’re always trying to find ways to cut the non-productive time: the time in between wells, and rigging up and rigging down between sites.”
Utilizing state-of-the-art proppant technology that RockPile Energy helped developed with a partner, the company has made sand silos, trans-load facilities, and demurrage costs nearly obsolete, and saved some valuable time and resources required in its 24-hour cycle.
Before, the proppant needed for a well would need to be moved several times, from mine, to railcar, to transport facility, to truck, to well site, to a storage bin at the location, and then into the well head. But this process was hugely inefficient, and RockPile Energy knew they needed to cut down on the number of times the proppant was traditionally transported.
The technology is a modular box that can be filled and taken from the transload facility right to the wellhead, effectively cutting out an average of three moves in the chain. It cuts down on the pieces of storage equipment, as well the number of trucks and drivers moving it.
“It’s changed the way we look at moving products to the field,” Dacar shared. “When we started this about four years ago, we spent a lot of time and resources developing and getting the box tech to where it is today. Now, almost all of our major competitors use it.”
The box technology is also making waves in how the sand is fed into the blender. Before the use of the modular box, the sand was moved by air pressure into storage containers, causing quite a bit of dust.
Now, there’s a gravity system that feeds the sand into the blender, cutting down on the loose silica dust by about 80 percent.
“Silica dust isn’t something you’d want to breath in, as it can cause respiratory problems. Minimizing the amount of it floating around wherever it’s loaded or unloaded is a tremendous positive.”
As mentioned earlier, box technology has also changed the way the people at RockPile consider space and efficiency at a worksite. Because of this new approach, between four and five storage units and six other diesel engines have been removed from work sites. This lower footprint is changing the game in terms of RockPile Energy’s commitment to greener and sustainable practices.
Not Idling on Tech
There are many other ways RockPile is committed to being a best in class player in the industry. Some of the company’s solutions, like box technology, create efficiencies and save time and money. Others save the environment.
It’s impossible to do what RockPile Energy does without a fleet of semi-trucks. This formidable mainstay on well sites burns through six to 10 gallons of diesel every hour it’s left on idle.
But RockPile Energy’s employees often need or want the heat and comfort the cab of the truck provides, making it necessary to keep the engine running despite the truck not moving. In a rather ingenious move, RockPile Energy instituted the use of small, portable diesel engines to take on these idle responsibilities.
And best for the environment, these smaller engines only burn one to two gallons of diesel an hour to run. No wasting fuel, and no extra exhaust.
The Introduction of Drones
The biggest technological advance just gaining its footing—or rather its wings—in the industry is the use of drones. For RockPile, the company is beginning to introduce the tech through a couple of innovative ways.
The high pressure treating line to a wellhead goes through a lot of wear and tear. To identify which lines they are using where, and to keep track of recertification and maintenance, RockPile tagged each line with RFID technology.
With hundreds of pieces of high-pressure line on the ground, a drone can easily capture, track, and send data back regarding the machinery in use. This proactive approach to maintenance ensures that line failures are few and far between, if they exist at all.
Drones are also being used during the planning stage, taking pictures and videos of well locations ahead of time to ensure that RockPile Energy brings the right equipment, and the right amount of equipment, every time.
“Incorporating drone technology into our business is still in the early stages, and not a lot is being done right now with drone tech in the industry, but we are excited at the opportunities it will bring to the company in terms of efficiencies.”
Through creating new efficiencies, expanding at the right time, and bringing innovative solutions to each well site the company works on, RockPile Energy Services is quickly becoming the company the industry in North Dakota and West Texas needs.
As the energy market in these regions picks up going into 2017, look for RockPile Energy to be on the forefront of the energy completions services market.
We are trailblazers in the field of energy completion services. Established in 2011, RockPile is leading the way with better production methods, greater efficiency and safer worksites for people and the environment. Never settling for status quo, we continue to break through barriers in productivity and clean environment initiatives in fracturing, proppant technology and chemical optimization.
Utilizing state-of-the-art proppant technology, we have virtually made sand silos and trans-load facilities obsolete, along with demurrage costs. Our clients also experience reduced truck volume and increased rail turnaround as a result of our expertise in Proppant Logistics.
Chemical optimization results in the elimination of totes for a smaller footprint and a greenfield. Looking to the space industry for this technology, our clients eliminate chemical inventory and free up capital, time, labor and additional risk associated with store-housing chemicals.
We also provide expertise in cased hole wireline, hydraulic pressure pumping, pump down services, BOP testing, and workover rig and customize all of our solutions to your needs.
RockPile is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and operates from Dickinson, North Dakota, and Midland, Texas, with staging operations in Watford City, ND Douglas, WY, and Midland, TX.