Horizontal Completions and a Lesson in Vertical Growth
STEP Energy Services
STEP Energy Services (STEP), Canada’s leading oilfield services company, has pioneered the horizontal well revolution. Based in Calgary, Alberta, STEP is highly specialized in all aspects of coiled tubing, fluid and nitrogen pumping services.
The company’s purpose-built equipment has gained widespread industry attention in recent years, but the Canadian horizontal well industry is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the firm’s innovative potential.
With an extensive depth of knowledge in the coil tubing space, STEP’s innovative approach has taken energy production to the twenty-first century, pushing the boundaries of the international coiled tubing marketplace.
In the early 2000s, as much of the energy services industry began to shift towards more sustainable and efficient drilling methods, horizontal drilling emerged as an innovative and preferred approach. The creation of longer wells, with more completion intervals, facilitated better reservoir access overall, resulting in tremendous operational and capital savings compared to the traditional drilling approach.
As the horizontal well industry blossomed, the demand for equipment that could fulfill the length and depth requirements of the new well designs also grew. STEP was one of the first companies to create innovative products for this change, providing the Canadian energy industry with specialized equipment that could reach further and deeper than any previous standard service equipment available on the market.
STEP was founded by experts with a wealth of coiled tubing experience and an in-depth understanding of the unique demands of horizontal wells. Working with a team of equipment fabricators and designers, the experts at STEP moved to enhance existing equipment, finding ways to make it larger and capable of carrying more weight.
STEP’s President and CEO Regan Davis describes this progress. “We were one of the first few energy services companies to bring larger equipment to the space,” he says. “We built the organization to support quality and detailed execution while continuing to evolve our equipment and service offering to accommodate longer deeper wells.”
Today, STEP is one of the world leaders in horizontal well technology, hosting an array of technical capabilities that include fourteen coil spreads, eighteen fluid pumps and ten nitrogen pumping units. As the company has spread throughout Canada, including major sites in both British Columbia and Alberta, STEP has played a role in transforming the trajectory of the Canadian energy sector forever.
STEP has seen unparalleled growth in recent years. A commitment to quality is embedded in STEP’s corporate culture, and it is this commitment that has driven the firm to new innovative heights. The industry leader has remained privately owned, working its way to the top the old-fashioned way, from quality results and a sturdy reputation.
“We are definitely seen, by many of our clients and competitors alike, as the preeminent coiled tubing solution out there right now, and we are really proud of the fact that the projects that we work on are recognized as highly successful projects,” shares Davis.
STEP provides best-in-class execution through unique integrative services that include customized solutions, 24/7 technical support and real-time data monitoring. Time and again, the company has outshone and outperformed its counterparts, making it a clear choice for industry leaders looking to extend or improve horizontal completion operations.
STEP is driven by a desire to provide clients with the highest quality services available. In endeavoring to stay ahead of emerging technologies, STEP is consistently up-scaling its existing fleet. “We’re committed to providing the best possible service and solution that we can, committed to hitting the goals that we agree to with our clients, which means we have to keep progressing,” Davis continues.
Since the environmental and labor-force demands of major completion projects vary considerably from project to project, the benefit of local knowledge and flexibility is priceless. By working closely with clients throughout the planning and execution phases of a project, STEP delivers unparalleled returns.
“Virtually every well we go into is different. The physical location can be unique… and create all sorts of challenges, so we spend a lot of time planning and understanding how we are going to execute the job so that we can be successful,” says Davis.
Growing alongside the development of the horizontal drilling industry, STEP has created not only equipment, but support services which ensure the overall viability and return on investment for some of Canada’s largest operations. “We have a sophisticated organization. We have a robust maintenance department, robust health and safety systems and tremendous engineering support for our clients. This is something that really makes us stand out.”
Quality services are what have driven STEP to the forefront of the industry but pushing the boundaries is what has kept it there. “Possibilities” is one of the firm’s core values alongside safety, trust and execution. “We are willing to push the boundaries and really look at how we can help our clients to unlock the possibilities,” Mark Johnson, vice president of sales and marketing for STEP says. One look at the firm’s recent accomplishments, and it is clear that possibility is more than just a saying at STEP; it is a promise.
STEP’s list of industry firsts is extensive, and research and development represents a significant piece of the company’s contribution to the energy space. “We have a lot of interesting firsts put out by our company in our short history,” says Johnson. Throughout 2013 and 2014, STEP deployed the longest, largest string of coiled tubing ever used in North America and possibly the world.
Most recently, the company unveiled a newly created articulating rotational mast: the STEP-ARM. This will allow for the servicing of multiple wells on a location, removing the costly and timely process of repositioning the equipment. The STEP-ARM and the company’s coiled tubing record are two examples of the extent to which it is willing to go to serve client needs and expand the possibilities of client’s projects across the board.
High-end technology is the framework for progress, but according to Davis and Johnson, it is the professionals at the heart of STEP that have kept the company thriving through some of the toughest economic times in Canadian industry. “We have quality equipment, there is no doubt about it, and that allows us to do some really good work, but our reputation is all based on the professionals that we have working for us,” says Davis.
At STEP, every staff member is called a “professional”, a testament to the firm’s steadfast commitment to fostering the most highly trained and competent team. From engineers to sales and professionals in the field, STEP has built a community of passionate and knowledgeable staff who continue to lead the climb to the top.
In understanding that high-end technology is only as valuable as those who employ it, STEP consistently works to improve the professional capabilities and training of its staff. In the end, it is STEP’s team of professionals that has garnered the firm’s industry-wide recognition and major contracts across the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. “We have been very deliberate about creating a culture that allows our professionals to bring their best to work every day, and it is through that culture that we are able to provide better service to our clients,” Davis explains.
STEP streamlines the oilfield services process by uniquely approaching the client relationship. Emphasizing, an “exceptional client experience”, each project is assigned a dedicated site manager to act as a central point of contact between the client and field professionals. This relationship ensures long-term logistical consistency and communicative clarity between management and the field.
According to Johnson, “where these projects are really the most successful, is in how well our field operations professionals execute on the project, the expertise that they bring and how much they put in to make sure the operation is a success.”
STEP has seen unparalleled success in recent years, but Davis and Johnson reaffirm that the oilfield service company is nowhere near finished growing. “We have had a phenomenal growth curve with this company, and it has been because we remained focused on executing better than anyone else, it’s something we are certainly proud of,” says Johnson.
As the demand for horizontal wells increases, STEP continues to rise to occasion, and in the next five years, chances are we’ll see STEP stretch beyond its Canadian footprint into the wider North American industry. Davis concludes, “It’s amazing how quickly this organization has grown. We have a unique culture, which is going to help us really differentiate ourselves. We have a vision to grow and to continue to provide best in class service to our clients.”