Calfrac Well Services

No matter what the formation – gas in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale or the oil-laden Bakken Shale – Calfrac Well Services has one goal: to deliver a pumping solution that safely and cost-effectively maximizes its client’s production. In the industrialized world, cost-effectiveness is sometimes synonymous with assembly line-style automation. When it comes to oil and gas well completions, however, the only way Calfrac can achieve its goal is with an individualized approach. The company designs cementing and fracturing programs that meet the specific needs of each job.

“Cementing is the first thing that happens as part of the well construction process, and a good cement job is critical to ensure proper wellbore security so the groundwater is protected and the zone that will be hydraulically fractured is isolated,” explains John Grisdale, president of U.S. operations. “In fracturing design, it gets a lot more complicated. One of the critical components to fracturing design is to optimize the stimulated reservoir volume that we’re trying to achieve. When they drill horizontally or vertically, we want to make sure we’ve got as much of that formation that contains the oil or natural gas. We want to maximize the area that’s stimulated to assure we get the most efficient flow out of the formation.”

Accomplishing this requires knowledge of a number of formation types and the best-matched drilling programs and chemicals for each well. Calfrac leverages its research and development, operational support and quality-control resources to develop and test exacting solutions along with providing the field employee training necessary to deliver those solutions.

“We have technology centers in Canada and the United States that are working to develop new fluid technologies and cementing technologies and green chemistries,” Grisdale says. “We also have training centers in the countries we’re working in. We have a consistent format that employees must go through. The training includes basic requirements but also focuses on safety. One of our philosophies and something that our CEO says is ‘We have to be able to do the work safely and we have to do it with a high level of quality. Quality means we’re consistent and effective on every job we do.’ To do that, you have to train people so they understand the effect quality has on the longevity of our business.”

Growing Market
The employees have caught hold of this message because Calfrac, which entered the U.S. market in 2000, has seen consistent growth. The plethora of oil and liquid-rich natural gas plays have taken the company into North Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Recent investments in these regions will strengthen its reputation and reliability in the United States, Grisdale predicts.

Calfrac opened a state-of-the-art $200 million facility in Smithfield, Penn., for its cementing operations, which will allow it to better serve the Marcellus Shale. In North Dakota, it is investing $130 million on a new facility and new equipment to serve the Williston Basin. The company also plans to expand its coil tubing services in the United States as a viable solution for stimulating zones that don’t require extremely high pressures or enormous proppant volume.

Grisdale explains that as the United States continues on its road to be more a more energy-independent country, Calfrac has proven itself through specially designed programs that meet each well’s needs. In 2009, in fact, Shell awarded Calfrac with the 2009 Shell Oil Supplier of the Year Award for the Americas. He credits the recognition to the employees who carry out the company’s mission.

“I think the attitude of our employees is probably the No.1 positive comment I get from our customers,” Grisdale says. “The employee attitude in all aspects of the operations – from the service and field office to the supply chain – that’s the No. 1 thing that sets us apart. They are responsible for the safety and quality that we do and that’s why they are so important to us.” EMI