Keane Group

With more than 30 years of experience in the northeast Pennsylvania and Appalachian regions, Keane Group has established a solid position in the top hole drilling and hydraulic fracturing industry. The company’s drilling and fracking services have evolved along with the industry, allowing the company to carve out a niche as a valued partner for the region’s oil and gas producers.

“As the industry converted from shallower oil zones to the Marcellus Shale, we’ve been able to convert our services to provide clients with the quality top hole drilling and hydraulic fracturing services they need,” CEO James Stewart says.

Market Changes
Keane Group consists of Keane and Sons Drilling Co. and Keane FRAC LP. The emergence of various opportunities in the Marcellus Shale over the last few years has certainly benefited the company. Before activity in the region ramped up, the market was essentially made up of small, independent producers. However, the last few years have seen the smaller independent companies replaced or acquired by major international corporations and large U.S.-based independents.

“The whole landscape of the business has changed in the last three to five years,” Stewart says. “The well types have gone from shallow vertical to the deep Marcellus wells, and the level of service required has gone up exponentially. We adapted by modifying our existing drilling rigs and turning them into top hole rigs.

“We also changed from traditional fracking to the horizontal,” he adds. “We invested in new equipment in the middle of 2010, and we’ve been striving to work efficiently and leveraging our performance into long-term contracts with the major players in the region.”

The company continuously invests in its services, making them as efficient as possible. On the drilling side, the company has eight RD20 Air Drilling Packages that are capable of drilling to depths of 5,000 feet.

To support its fracking services, it has invested in equipment that allows the company to provide a capacity of 30,000 horsepower to a major operator in northeast Pennsylvania. It also had a capacity of 30,000 horsepower ready to go into service in October 2011 with another 30,000 horsepower available to go into service in the first quarter of 2012.

“After making the first investment, the quality of our performance allowed us to invest in the second and third frac spread of equipment,” Stewart said.

The company is adept at every step of the hydraulic fracturing process, beginning with staging equipment before a production setup. Keane Group makes use of a state-of-the-art digital data center, which provides real-time, continuous production monitoring and control. The crew has access on the job site, while clients have access through a satellite link. On the job, the company’s hydraulic fracturing fluid pumps work together through a pump, blender and sandhog setup that delivers more than 100 BBL per minute and 12,100 PSI of continuous pressure.

Special Expertise
Keane’s ability to establish relationships with large independent producers and major international clients is due to its history and experience in the industry, as well as its equipment. Stewart says everything starts with the industry insight and understanding possessed by the executive team. He came on board with the company about a year ago. The company has seen significant growth in the short term, and has brought in more industry veterans to ensure it has the experience and connections on the senior-level side in management as well as on the technical and operations side.

Stewart contends that is quality people and training programs, along with a culture of accountability, that are the key aspects for success in the industry. He knows the company has to perform at a high level during planning and staging for it to keep up with project demands. He understands that hiring and retention hinge on offering competitive wages and benefits packages, too.

“Our company provides an opportunity for people to come into a relatively small company and have a big say,” Stewart says. “We offer our people flexibility and the chance to move up the ladder.”

Although the bulk of the company’s operations may remain in northeast Pennsylvania, there are opportunities for expansion. Keane Group has already begun pursuing projects in southwest Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and Stewart says there are additional prospects in the Utica, N.Y., area.

“We just have to maintain our existing customer relationships while also building new ones as we leverage our past performance,” he says.