Nearly twenty years ago, I was a “wireline logging” field engineer, tasked with lowering electronic devices down a newly drilled oil & gas well.  Those devices, which collected measurements, ultimately provided crucial information about where (and how much) oil & gas there was beneath the surface. These electronic devices were lowered down the well using a “wireline” cable, and the measurements were printed on a “log” of paper, hence the term wireline logging. During my time on the job, I learned quickly that a simple forgotten task, such as securing the logging unit, had the potential for serious risk, and one particular story demonstrates that above all else.

Early in my career, I was leading an offshore platform operation in Cook Inlet, Alaska, which happened to be where I was born and raised. The well was more than 16,000 feet deep — more than three miles! After lowering the electronic devices to the bottom of the well, there were more than 10,000 pounds of weight held by the logging unit. Even after performing over 200 operations in my short three-year career, I had forgotten to ensure a very basic yet critical step in a logging operation: secure the unit!

And so began a crisis that could have been averted by the oversight of ServiceMax.

As soon as the electronic devices touched the bottom of the well and we began collecting data, the logging unit began to slide across the platform and my crew (and client!) was forced to jump out of the unit. I knew immediately I had forgotten to ensure our wireline crew chained down the logging unit.

You can imagine the risk associated with this event. People could have been significantly injured as the logging unit slid across the platform. Moreover, the cable could have snapped and 3 miles of cable along with one million dollars of electronic assets could have dropped down the well. The millions of dollars our client invested in drilling that particular well would have been lost as well. Luckily, this story ends with no one was hurt and the cable intact, though we had about 30 minutes of “lost” time where we used a crane to move the unit back to its original spot. Then it was back to normal operations.

Near catastrophic misses like these happen throughout the oil & gas industry — and throughout the world every day. I look back on that moment and think, If I only had ServiceMax back then. Using the ServiceMax checklist capability, I would have been reminded on my mobile device to secure the logging unit and to confirm that task has been completed to avert the crisis.

Believe it or not, I was rated a 4 out of 5 on the operation, and the customer wrote, “Other than the sliding logging unit, excellent job.” In the ServiceMax system, that evaluation would get electronically captured for the next business review with the client to demonstrate how the crew made a very bad situation into a good one. For years, I kept a hard copy of the customer evaluation form for this operation as a keepsake. It served as a reminder of the days I spent in the field, and the lessons that inform the ServiceMax platform today.

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ABOUT Phil Schwarz

Avatar photoPhil Schwarz has nearly 20 years of experience in the oil & gas industry with oilfield service, industrial automation and SaaS companies. He is passionate about smart oilfield technologies and the economics of oil & gas. He holds a Graduate Certificate in Smart Oilfield Technologies from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Economics from the University of North Dakota. Phil is the former oil & gas industry development director at ServiceMax.