Where Experience Meets Technology

Eaton Oil Tools

In a world where customer service is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, some companies still believe doing things the traditional way is better for both their business and clients alike. At Eaton Oil Tools, Inc., a highly respected and diversified oilfield service company, customers know their call will not be answered by a machine but by a real person, and they will be treated with the same professionalism, care, and commitment to quality that has served the company extremely well for over 40 years.

“My great-grandfather, Jack Eaton, saw an opportunity, and by chance he was in the right place at the right time when he decided to venture out on his own,” says Justin Eaton of the family-owned business. As Marketing Manager for the company, Justin is the fourth generation of Eatons to work at the business bearing the family name. Like others before him, he learned the ropes from the shop floor up, working on tools and later in operations before taking on his current role three years ago.

Incorporated in 1973, Eaton Oil Tools was founded by Justin’s great grandfather, Jack Eaton, who previously worked at a logging company. Headquartered in Broussard, Louisiana, the company today has grown to five locations due to demand for its services, the need for work in broader areas, and an influx of projects.

With a total of five convenient and strategically located offices in North and South Louisiana, two in East Texas, and one in West Texas, Eaton Oil Tools averages between 75 and 95 employees, some of whom have been with the company for decades.

Today, Eaton Oil Tools remains completely family-owned and operated, with no outside investors, and the team plans to keep it that way for the benefit of the business, its staff, and the many customers who depend on the Eaton brand for reliability, fast service, integrity and quality. It works, and there is no reason for the company to change its time-tested focus on reliable and personable service.

“For clients, there’s no red tape or corporate doors you’ve got to kick down to get answers,” states Mr. Eaton. “Here, you speak directly to the owner.” With his involvement, along with that of his father Ed, the company President, his brother Derek, Facilities Coordinator, grandfather George Eaton, who remains CEO, and other skilled personnel, the company prides itself on its motto: “No problems, only solutions,” which encompasses Eaton’s direct approach to business.

Full service and supplies

In addition to being a full-service fishing tool company and supplier of quality downhole equipment, Eaton Oil Tools, Inc. has developed a complete line of successful and innovative equipment and services for its many clients. Through its centralized Broussard facility, the company meets all customer needs for Cased and Open Hole Fishing, Casing cutting (P & As), Milling, Section milling and Window cutting in all oil field applications. Additionally, the company provides clients with equipment, services, personnel, design, manufacturing and repairs, and will rent tools at a day rate, with or without an operator to perform services, depending on the needs of the client.

With its own machine shop, about 75 per cent of Eaton’s inventory is fabricated in its in-house Broussard-based facilities. Here is where it all comes together – literally. Under the watchful eye of quality assurance, including third-party inspectors, equipment components are precisely created. “Here, we manufacture mills, casing cutters, cutter knives, crossover subs, rotary shoes, stabilizers, and more,” says Chuck Ashby, Sales Manager. “There are a hundred different kinds of mills.”

To ensure quality of all components at every stage, maintenance starts with a visual, non-destructive inspection, followed by a complete multi-step inventory process. A pre-job check list is created and completed in advance of any equipment being shipped out for service. These and other steps are carried out with respect for clients, safety, and job satisfaction.

Actively engaged with companies – many of them multinationals – who have operations offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore in the Permian Basin and other areas, the business prides itself on its autonomy. “Even as a family-owned company, we work for a number of large independents and a lot of majors, like Shell,” says Mr. Eaton, who says the company’s many successful years in business and a solid industry footprint make a huge difference to the business and its ongoing success. With clients including independent oil and natural gas acquisition, producer and exploration company W&T Offshore; oil and gas exploration and production company Apache Corporation; and American Fortune 500 energy producing company and ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy Inc., to name a few, Eaton Oil Tools continues to make inroads with clients regularly, largely based on its reputation for quality, service, and unparalleled on-budget, on-time performance.

Although the company advertises, the bulk of its projects come about through referrals from satisfied clients. “A lot of our work comes around because of word of mouth and the fact we’ve been in business a long time,” comments Mr. Ashby. “People bounce around, and we have very good relationships with those people in the industry who move around with the work, and they carry around those relationships with them.”

Experience and speed

As a supplier of quality downhole equipment, Eaton Oil Tool endeavors to design, innovate, create, manufacture and develop a complete line of quality tools and services which are second to none. This is especially important in the field of oil and gas, where down time is measured not in dollars, but in thousands of dollars. Equipment needs to be running, and when it comes to on-time customer delivery, Eaton Oil Tools truly shines.

“About 70 per cent of the work we do is rush, as in ‘they need it yesterday,’” says Mr. Eaton of the company, who will deliver products to oil and gas clients through a trucking service and, on occasion when their own operators are doing the service work, deliver tools in person. “If the delivery is offshore, we will take it to a dock where a boat will take it to an offshore platform. There have been instances where we have put things on helicopters and/or planes to get them there faster.”

At Eaton, the company prides itself on maintaining high staff retention rates. Many technical operators are older, seasoned, and highly experienced industry veterans with considerable offshore and oil field work knowledge, some with 40 years under their belts. It is this combination of firsthand knowledge, dedicated staff, and skills both in the field and shop which are among Eaton’s greatest assets.

Fabrication, machining, milling and more

Maintaining a separate machining and repair facility at its Broussard location, Eaton Oil Tools is equipped to meet the diverse needs of its clients through a variety of services. These include lathe and milling work, welding and fabrication. Repairs and manufacturing are carried out by highly experienced personnel using only the finest equipment and high quality materials. Following set procedures, quality is verified by trained staff to ensure complete customer satisfaction. In addition to repairing hardmetal applications, Eaton creates an array of fishing tools, milling tools, hole openers, section mills, whipstocks, stabilizers, subs, pup joints, and more.

“Everything we do is job specific,” comments Mr. Ashby. “We don’t make 100 of one item; everything we make is unique in its own way, dependent on the conditions of the well we are working in, so it pays for us to have manual machines and skilled machinists to operate our tools and machinery.”

Among the company’s unique products are its Terminator cut and pull system and its center punch mill. An industry first with patent pending technology, the unique center punch mill was designed and created based on decades of firsthand experience and customer need. Created with precision from the finest materials, the product is made to work safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

“We’re the only people that have it,” says Mr. Ashby. “It is patent pending, and we’ve had a lot of success with it with the majors. It provides a safer way to drill out downhole plugs in a well.” Available in various casing sizes ranging from seven inches to 30 inches, the center punch mill fits plug diameters precisely. In the old days, plugs would often be milled out – the disadvantage being that there was no way to test how much pressure remained underneath, and the risk of blowing out a plug was dangerously high. With Eaton’s center punch mill, a pilot hole is first drilled through the plug, which keeps the plug’s integrity intact while allowing pressure to equalize before the plug is milled. The plug can then be milled in safety without the risk of blowing the well. “We have had a lot of success with the product, as everything gets more safety concentrated,” says Mr. Eaton. “In fact, some of our clients use it on almost every well.”

Prior to drilling a plug, jobs are planned and engineered for weeks in advance by customers who come to Eaton with a wellbore schematic and a file on the well and its history. Key information is provided to Eaton, whose experienced people review schematics and devise procedures on how to remove the plugs safely. “All wells are unique, different sizes and conditions,” explains Mr. Ashby. “Sometimes the plug is pulled out, and it splits in two or three pieces, and is rusted and corroded. Every well is different, every well is a challenge, and that keeps it interesting for us, and you have to have experienced, technical staff in here to solve each and every scenario.”

Depths at which the plugs – usually made from cast iron with concrete on top – operate vary considerably, from 50 feet to thousands of feet deep. All wells must have five of them, set at different depths, with the first barrier set at 20 feet below the mud line for offshore wells. Many of the wells the company is working on were drilled in the seventies, and new government regulation is compelling clients to go back, plug these wells, and remove the metal from the ocean. “We’re talking about thousands of wells that have to be removed from the Gulf of Mexico from the shelf, and from your midwater depths.” To ensure the mill is centered while allowing the tungsten carbide dressed head to be lowered thru the plug and cement, Eaton uses floating stabilizers.

Another device unique to Eaton is its Terminator Cut & Pull System. Created with safety, speed, price, and customer satisfaction in mind, the system was created in partnership with Swivel Rental & Supply and Petro Pull to put together an industry leading technology. This is an integrated system made up by proven components from Eaton, providing the downhole assembly; Swivel Rental & Supply, providing the swivel and swivel stands; and Petro Pull, providing the casing jacks. With these three proven methods and technologies, the Terminator System has improved performance and streamlined Casing Cutting & Pulling Operations as well as Section Milling Operations. The Terminator Cut & Pull System is available for various applications and can handle any operation within certain specifications, up to 72 inches of vertical travel, 50 tons lifting for hydraulic swivel stands, and 72 inches of vertical travel, 375 tons of jacking capacity, and a 30 inch diameter capacity for casing jacks.

By migrating a number of services on every platform with multiple wells – such as cutters, casing jacks, and power swivels – and combining efforts with two other companies to create a package which includes a small rig structure, Eaton Oil Tools has created a system which is highly effective, safe, and much more economical for clients than older techniques. “When wells are plugged, they also cut the pipe at the same time, and remove it all at once,” says Mr. Ashby. “They don’t move a rig onto the location, as it is too expensive. Instead, they are plugging wells, and cut and pull acts as a type of rig. Customers have everything on this structure that they would possibly need to re-enter that well, cut the pipe, and pull it out. Before, they had to do this with a rig and a daily cost of $35,000; our system is only $8,000 a day. You just set it on the existing platform, do the cutting and pulling, and it is not crane operated, so you can use it simultaneously for other operations going on, on the rig. That way, the job gets done as a much cheaper daily rate which is way faster, and since time is money in the oilfield, it saves them a lot of money.”

For more information about Eaton Oil Tools, please visit http://www.eatonoiltools.com/

July 22, 2018, 2:54 AM EDT

The Gig Economy

There are countless studies that demonstrate that the nature of work is changing. Work is becoming increasingly precarious, but what does this mean? Does precarious employment imply doom and gloom or is there a silver lining for work that no longer fits traditional or conventional models? Is it a necessary evolution for the increasingly automated economy?