PA Snubber Flourishes in Industry Downturn – Lessons Learned

There’s no denying that with the number of drilling rigs reduced in the Marcellus/Utica, the supply chain–those businesses that service the industry–have also seen a reduction in business. You can’t lay down 30% of your rigs and not have some kind of effect on the industry. But not every supply chain business has been negatively affected. Deep Well Services (DWS), a “snubbing” oilfield services company headquartered in Pennsylvania, continues to break new revenue records and grow the payroll with new employees. Last July they had 128 employees. As of May this year, they have 140, and by the end of the year that number will be 190. That’s really saying something in this current downturn in the industry. How did they do it?…

DWS operates a special kind of drilling rig that allows the company to drill existing wells already under pressure further out, inserting pipe into a working well, without shutting down the well. It’s called snubbing and it’s a specialized, delicate operation. DWS is one of a handful that performs the service in the Marcellus/Utica.

Below are a pair of recent press releases talking about the company’s continuing busyness in the midst of the current downturn, along with an investment they’ve made in new technology.

Despite industrywide concerns over commodity prices, Pennsylvania headquartered Deep Well Services (DWS) continues a strong track record of record-breaking growth in the first quarter 2015.

The oilfield service company achieved its all-time monthly high for revenues in January ? $3.2 million ? and its February YTD revenues were 32 percent higher than projected. So far, the company’s earnings are 240 percent higher than budget. That’s thanks, in part, to its reputation for unmatched safety, personnel and top-tier equipment.

“We are very busy compared to competitors,” DWS CEO Mark Marmo says. “Our people make the difference and have helped us maintain our success. We have the best crews and equipment in the industry.”

Innovative approaches, such as strategic alliances that allow DWS to offer package deals to save customers time and money, have proven critical as E&P companies search for services to improve safety and profitability. DWS successfully completed eight jobs in February through a strategic alliance with Wellsite Rental Services.

The oilfield service company has experienced rapid and ongoing growth, from revenues of $14.2mm for 2013 to more than $27mm for 2014. The company, which now employs more than 140, launched aggressive plans this year to add more new equipment, fueling job and revenue growth.

The company invested in more standalone snub units and an additional service rig ? all designed to make the region’s increasingly high-pressure wells safer. In January, DWS brought on an additional 285K standalone snubbing unit and a fourth service rig ? one with a 112-foot, 265,000-pound mast ? a sign of the company’s overall growth. The “next generation” 285K unit is safer, faster and has a smaller footprint on a well pad than rig assist work.

The company also plans to add a 15k- 250 standalone snubbing unit this year, and the expanded fleet will require additional personnel, up to 190 employees total by the end of 2015.

Oilfield service company Deep Well Services furnishes service rigs and rig assist/standalone snubbing units and has a roustabout line of business. All of DWS’ industry-leading equipment is fabricated to facilitate the completion of Marcellus and Utica wells, and the company is the only snubbing company headquartered in Pennsylvania. More information is available at

DWS adds a state-of-the-art snubbing simulator:

As industry leaders in completion operations and innovative equipment, oilfield service company Deep Well Services (DWS) has invested in a snubbing simulator to improve preparedness, safety and education about the benefits of snubbing. The simulator also represents a continued commitment by DWS to hire and train local talent who can take advantage of family-sustaining jobs.

This system uses state-of-the-art 2-D and 3-D technology to project oilfield work conditions for completion operations, using panels that are identical to those on DWS’ standalone snubbing units. The aim is safety, consistency and efficiency, COO John Sabo says.

“Staff from greenhands to supervisors will benefit from multiple program options teaching hazard recognition, pad configuration, set up, standard operating procedures and complex well intervention tactics,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for us to drive consistency throughout the process.”

DWS is the only snubbing company in the region to employ this technology, which also will help the company continue its track record for hiring the most qualified local talent. With a teacher setting, the simulator allows a DWS interviewer to test job candidates on their real world capabilities. In an ongoing period of rapid growth, the company has been in a continuous hiring phase. The company is adding another 15k- 250 standalone snubbing unit this year, and the expanded fleet will require additional personnel, up to 190 employees total by the end of 2015.

The simulator also offers opportunities to demonstrate the strengths of snubbing in general ? and DWS’ cutting-edge equipment, in particular.

“This is a value-added service for our customers,” Sabo says. “We can provide a hands-on demonstration of how our snubbing units work and their functionality by adjusting schematics of pad, pressure, set up and bottom-hole assembly.”(2)

What lessons do we learn from DWS for weathering an economic downturn in the industry?

1. Specialize. Pick a niche. DWS is not just any old oilfield services company. They specialize in a hard-to-do function–snubbing. They’ve become known for being the best at what they do.

2. Focus on a specific geography–like the Marcellus/Utica.

3. Hire the best people. And train them.

4. Buy the best equipment.

5. Offer your customers “package deals” to make it easy for them to buy your products/services. Think through the customer experience and make it super easy for them to say “yes” to what you offer.

(1) Deep Well Services (May 12, 2015) – DWS’ Crews, Strategy Allow for Prosperous Q1

(2) Deep Well Services (May 12, 2015) – DWS Adds State-of-the-Art Snubbing Simulator

Read the article here


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