Rachelle Hugo no longer spends much of her day sifting through paper slips and retyping data about dozens of oil and natural gas wells throughout the state.
The production clerk at Oklahoma City-based GLB Exploration Inc. now has more time to focus on her other duties, including alerting engineers to potential problems with oil field equipment and providing more information to other investors who own a stake in the company's wells.
GLB has outfitted most if its pumpers with iPads and Greasebook software that lets them digitize many of the operations that have been conducted for decades by hand and mail.
“We used to get sheets of paper from each pumper for each well,” Hugo said. “I'd have to go into our system and type in the information. Now our pumpers enter their daily reads into their iPads, and the information shows up on my iPad.”
From there, Hugo can download the data into the company's existing accounting software for rapid update. The iPad software also provides charts and maps detailing daily production levels that were not available to GLB previously.
“Previously, we would get a monthly gauge sheet from the pumpers,” GLB Operations Manager Bill Smith said. “If I needed to know how a well was doing on a more timely basis, I would have to call the pumper to ask several questions and write down notes. Now I can get on my iPad and instantly see how well all of our wells are doing.”
GLB has moved 108 of its 120 wells to Greasebook with plans to soon add more, Hugo said.
Greasebook is a product of Oklahoma City-based Greasebook LLC, led by software developer Greg Archibald.
Archibald's goal is to make modern oil field technology accessible to the small and mid-size oil and natural gas companies.
“There are two main aspects of the digital oil field that have prohibited the small and medium operators from using it,” he said. “It has been very expensive, and it has required a high level of expertise to operate.”
Many of the larger companies have installed expensive equipment that monitors oil, natural gas and water levels in storage tanks. Some equipment automatically opens valves or shuts in wells if tanks get too full.
But most of the smaller operators — which make up the vast majority of oil and natural gas companies — still rely on pumpers to hand measure tank levels. Most of those pumpers write down the data on paper and mail weekly reports to the office.
While some pumpers have been reluctant to try new technology, Archibald said he has won over many converts.
“The most exciting part is when you have a field worker who might be 70 or 75,” he said. “They don't want anything to do with it at first. Some of them got burned before when they tried to use Palm Pilots and other technology that just didn't work.
“But when they pull up Greasebook on their iPads, they can learn how to run this technology in five or 10 minutes.”
Greasebook also integrates with free apps like Dropbox, Reminder and other iCloud products.
“We definitely recommend a lot of free apps,” Archibald said. “Trying to charge people for solutions that already exist isn't cool. Our business is super niche focused. We'll let the Dropboxes focus on what they do best. Why would be try to reinvent the wheel? To try to do what somebody else does best is not a good use of time. We try to focus on the mid to small operators.”