Smarter Thinking for a New Age

New Age Oilfield Services
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Since it was founded almost 20 years ago, Alberta-based New Age Oilfield Services Inc. has believed in doing things differently. A diversified oilfield services provider, New Age is not only a one-stop oilfield product and service provider, but a company committed to safety, quality, integrity, and sustainability.

“Our sustainability program is based on three pillars: environment, social, and governance,” says New Age’s COO Josh Urlacher. Last year saw the release of the company’s second annual Sustainability Report, where the company highlights its many impressive initiatives.

Through special designated collection bins, New Age has diverted thousands of aerosol cans from landfill, these being sent instead to a facility that can properly recycle them. In the past few years, about a ton of wood pallets and spools have been repurposed, with local artisans transforming them into tables, chairs, and outdoor porch furniture. And instead of it taking up space, the company has recycled 148,000 pounds of steel.

“These are mostly downhole items that could end up in landfill, or sitting in customer lay-down yards onsite, rusting away,” says Urlacher. Believing even modest changes make a big difference, the company’s switch to hand dryers in its facility has brought a 25 percent reduction in paper towel use. And by using half a dozen digital apps and making fewer colour copies, the company has saved thousands of sheets of paper.

Ethics and safety
Making positive changes benefits not only New Age but its many customers. Focused on the economy and business ethics of the industry—including recycling and reuse—the company introduced a successful clamp refurbishment program in its shop. “We sell our customers new clamps,” says Urlacher, “but we also push the reuse of these products.”

Working with two of the world’s biggest clamp / protector manufacturers, New Age maintains a large inventory of new and refurbished clamps, along with tubing, instrumentation, and cables.

“Customer clamp refurbishment increased over seven percent from the previous year,” says the company in its Sustainability Report. “The more we refurb, the less impact on the environment for New Age and our customers, a partnership in reducing the impacts of mining for raw materials. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is not just a catchy tagline, it’s an action!” Through specialized testing and in-house engineering, New Age proves to customers they can reuse clamps a set number of times based on scientific data gained from their clamp testing equipment.

“We all see that the direction the industry is heading,” says Urlacher. “COVID kind of put oil and gas in focus again. All eyes are on the industry, and it’s time to take a look at our practices and try to create awareness among employees about what we’re doing, and what we can do better, to be a sustainable part of society. So we include our staff,” he says. “The report is created by a few people, and we have regular meetings throughout the year where we pull staff from all divisions to get involved, and provide ideas and suggestions.”

Safety, like sustainability, is integral to New Age’s beliefs and practices. With full-time safety staff, the company prides itself on a top-tier safety program comparable to much larger oilfield service businesses.

“At New Age Oilfield, we believe that safety is an integral part of the company’s operations,” says President Mark Rhodenizer. To date, the New Age has an impressive Certificate of Recognition (COR) Audit score of 97 percent, and well over 2000 days since its last lost-time accident.

With memberships in ISNetworld (ISN), Avetta, Partnerships in Injury Reduction, and other safety-related organizations, New Age practices the old saying, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

This includes managers, supervisors, all employees, and others on job sites, and encompasses everything from identifying safety requirements to communicating and investigating hazardous conditions; providing competency training and taking part in safety training programs; wearing personal protective equipment (PPE); and much more.

“When you’re in the oil patch, safety is number one,” says Rhodenizer, “and we need to maintain a safety program that ensures our employees return home safe from every job, and above industry standard safety stats that make us attractive to our customers. Many of our customers use online safety monitoring platforms that are even managed outside the country. If our stats meet the approval of those monitoring companies, we are free to work for the oil companies, so in the interest of providing our employees a safe place to work and the workload to support steady growth, focus and attention on our safety program must be paramount.”

With an all-inclusive training and competency program, new employees benefit from multiple in-person and online training courses and orientation programs from oil companies. This ensures they get a good background in New Age’s safety requirements before even setting foot on a rig site. Even customers and new crews are provided training on installing clamps and the safe handling of ESP power cables that transmit power to the downhole ESP equipment.

Engineering in-house
Primarily focused on Alberta and Southeast Saskatchewan, New Age’s coverage area also includes Northern British Columbia and Southwest Manitoba.

To further meet client demand, the company created its own in-house engineering department in 2017 after hiring Peter Lang, New Age’s Vice President of Engineering. Previously, the company had third-partied its engineering support but realized it needed more as it grew, including equipment design, builds, and continuous improvement on servicing equipment. When Lang became available around 2016, they knew the timing was right.

“Having engineering capabilities allows us to be a one-stop shop in many cases with our clients,” says Rhodenizer. “It also allows our customers to discuss conceptual ideas with our team, knowing that from all angles New Age has them covered. The other big benefit is that our customers do not have to deal with multiple companies to get the same result, which we know can lead to more invested time, higher cost, and open up room for overlap or errors.”

Growing to a staff of 60 , New Age’s varied talent pool includes employees with experience in mechanical engineering, artificial lift (including ESPs and pump jacks), electrical, production testing, cementing, downhole oil tools, and other relevant areas.

Perks for new employees include hiring and referral bonuses, company-paid benefits, and an RSP program. The way the company treats its staff and customers has resulted in a solid retention rate and great reviews.

“Our reputation exists in this field because we’re focused on quality, providing quality trained employees and products, and having our equipment look 100 percent at all times,” says Rhodenizer. “Oil companies have hired our competitors, but when we show up on site, it’s a big difference for them.”

Space age
In 2020, New Age built its own 10,500-square-foot full Heavy and Light Duty Maintenance shop. This way, the company doesn’t waste time, money, and fuel delivering units to third party shops. “We also have our own wash bay in our main shop so our field employees can wash their units upon returning after their jobs are completed. By doing this, we also lower our risk because it’s less unnecessary travelling, with lower wait times and cost savings,” adds Rhodenizer.

“In 2017 we went from a 12,000-square-foot shop to a 26,000-square-foot shop and we house all our divisions in one location, which allows us for future growth, for future service offerings, and we’ve been focusing on efficiency because of it. It also increases our on-site reliability and reduces potential loss of jobs.”

Recently, New Age expanded into pump jack servicing and is working on transformer refurbishment. Until now, step-up transformers for ESP were often left in a field and forgotten after being used. To address this, the company is purchasing, refurbishing, testing, and supplying these warrantied refurbished units, making them look and function like new.

Patent success
Along with servicing and rebuilding pump jacks, New Age has also designed a locking sleeve for fittings downhole, and thermal applications to deal with heating, expansion, and contraction experienced on SAGD (steam-assisted gravity drainage) wells.

“We were recognizing some failures that were occurring because of this, so we designed a locking sleeve apparatus that slides over the fitting and makes it impossible for the fitting to come loose,” says Rhodenizer. “That’s in the works of becoming patented. And we also have our encapsulated multi-point thermocouple strings, pressure rated wellhead systems. We manufacture and test these in Leduc, and install them on our winter observation well projects for all of our heavy oil customers, who utilize the temperature sensor arrays for reservoir monitoring. That way, our customers have multi-point temperature readings throughout their observation wells in a small and durable package.”

As the privately-owned company looks forward to turning 20 next year, the team is looking forward to what the future will bring.

“Our business is very diverse,” says Rhodenizer. “Based on requests over the years, we’ll continue to be diverse. Any time we’ve grown, it’s because a customer called us and said ‘Can you do this?’ and we would take it back to the table and discuss it and ‘Yes, actually, we can do that.’ And here we are.”

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