Currently, Neset has 60 crews working throughout the Bakken. A crew consists of a mudlogger and a geologist who handle 24 hour shifts. The geologist operates a 12-hour day shift and the muddlogger continues the duties during the evening.
The crews evaluate the operations while the well is drilling by recording the drill rate, the drill cutting (every 30 feet of drilling a rock sample is collected and evaluated,) and evaluate the gas that is being liberated out of the formation during drilling operations.
“The oil has been established with the amount of oil that is recoverable, the amount of leases, and the amount of wells to develop the play,” Neset says. “Those things are coming together so that there is a need for well site geologists.”
Neset, who has a degree in geology from Brown University, moved to North Dakota in 1979 and has not left. She is involved in geology because she enjoys the independence. Her goal when she started in 1979 was to be the best in her field. “I like the independent living,” she says. “I like the environment.”
She started her own consulting group, starting by doing all the work herself out of her house near Tioga, ND. Then it was a building in Tioga, followed by a doublewide trailer, and now her work has increased so much that she has had to hire other employees and is looking at a new building to expand her gas detection division and research and development group.
The company has gone through the boom and bust cycles in the Bakken since 1979. However, since 2000, Neset has seen oil production take off and she has been busy. She has nationwide contracts with oil companies and also hires out to subcontractors. Her main business is in the Bakken where she has crews out in Saskatchewan, Canada, eastern Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, as well as western North Dakota. Today, her business has grown to 135 employees.
Neset says that everyone knew there was oil in the Bakken, but not to what extent, and not until a study was released in 2008 that showed just how much oil could be in the area. “The technology is improving constantly. We are getting better at drawing horizontal wells. We are getting better at fracture simulating,” she says. “We didn’t miss it. Technology caught up to it.”
The changes in oil drilling have been driven by technology. The same style of rigs in 1979 are still around, but now there are walking rigs where it drills down and then moves 30 feet and drills down once more.
In addition, maybe the largest change has been communication. “We communicate the data from the well site to the oil company’s office in another city,” says Neset.
Then there is also more math involved in calculating where to put the drill.
There are also challenges in the Bakken for Neset’s consulting company. Is it going to last? How do you plan ahead? How do you cash flow a business that is growing so quickly? How does the company plan for the future and take those risks?
Neset admits that the oil play has not plateaued yet. “I see it continuing to build,” she explains. “More rigs are coming in. Permitting continues. I want to continue to provide stronger service.”
Source: Prairie Business