The Permian Basin, which is a vast part of the southwestern US stretching from eastern New Mexico and covering most of West Texas, took the title of the most productive oilfield in the world in 2019. It’s no surprise, then that the region is the center of activity for the major players in the oil and gas industry. Thanks to advances in energy exploration technology, and hydraulic fracturing in particular, the basin is booming.
Every single day is a learning experience, with challenges to solve and new ways of approaching problems.
“The Permian Basin is what I would call the granddaddy of them all,” says Justin Shepherd, Senior Application Specialist, Oil & Gas, Kemira. “Even in uncertain times like these there’s never a dull moment here, and that’s why I love working in the region. Every single day is a learning experience, with challenges to solve and new ways of approaching problems.”
A recent addition to Kemira’s already vastly experienced team, Justin has been in the oil & gas industry for close to two decades in various roles in the US and around the world, both onshore and offshore. “You name it, I’ve probably done it, especially in terms of working with operators on unconventional formations to develop and fine tune their stimulation designs. This means I’ve had my hand in everything from the initial design all the way through to implementation – pretty much every aspect,” he explains.
Experience is everything
Now Kemira’s stimulation customers have the opportunity to tap into Justin’s vast well of knowledge to help them optimize their operations by improving efficiency, reducing water usage, and maximizing the value they can extract from their reservoirs.
We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in developing polymers for stimulation applications, but we’re here to be much more than a chemicals supplier.
“What gets me up in the morning is the opportunity to be out there in the field as a new set of eyes and ears for the customer. I’m working with some very experienced professionals on their side who really know their stuff, but what I can bring to the table is a new perspective on things, new ways of approaching stimulation design that can help the client raise the bar even higher.”
As Senior Application Specialist, Justin acts as a vital link in the chain between Kemira’s R&D teams and the customers on the ground, identifying their needs and challenges, discussing new trends and opportunities, and working to develop solutions that address them. “Our O&G team has a wealth of knowledge and experience in developing and fine-tuning polymers for stimulation applications, but we’re here to be much more than a chemicals supplier. Everyone from management to R&D to sales is laser-focused on not just understanding what the customer needs right now, but on building a long-term relationship where we can help them continuously improve, whether we’re talking about cutting water usage and energy consumption or increasing production volumes,” Justin points out.
The unique nature of each formation means creative thinking and inventiveness are worth their weight in gold. “Even between wells in the same formation there can be huge variations, mostly rock related, that affect how the chemistries we supply perform. This is where our global knowledge base and deep expertise really pay off for the customer,” highlights Justin.
We have developed polymers that make it possible to reuse the produced water by recycling it back into the process multiple times.
Stimulating resource efficiency
Kemira’s polymers for stimulation are injected along with water into oil reservoirs in order to maximize the amount of oil that can be drawn out of the rock formations, while lowering the horsepower needed for pumping the fluid. One of the key challenges facing operators using stimulation as a method of extraction is reducing the amount of water they consume in the process. “For example, we have developed polymers with higher tolerances to total dissolved solids that make it possible to reuse the produced water by recycling it back into the process multiple times,” explains Justin.
In this way the work of Justin and his team is demonstrating how Kemira’s chemistries support our stimulation customers in achieving their ESG (environmental, social and governance) targets. “Demand for oil isn’t going to suddenly disappear, and I think people easily forget the huge part that oil-based products play in their daily lives,” says Justin.
“Our chemistries and expertise are helping to access valuable hydrocarbon-based energy resources that will continue to play a role in the global energy mix alongside renewable sources.”
Lessons learned together
The recent pandemic-related economic downturn hit the oil & gas industry hard, but Justin sees this as an opportunity to take a step back and learn some important lessons. “We’ve had downturns before and we’ll have them again, but sometimes the industry forgets once the price bounces back. This time is different – the impacts on the industry are deep and long lasting. What I want to achieve with my work and the work of the whole O&G team at Kemira is to help our customers operate on a leaner scale, in a more capital and resource-efficient way, so that they can remain profitable while improving their ESG performance at the same time,” Justin concludes.