Downhole Chemical Solutions
Business View Magazine interviews Jason Rall, VP of Operations at Downhole Chemical Solutions, for our focus on Manufacturing in the Oil & Gas sector
Downhole Chemical Solutions (DCS) is a recognized leader in the research and development, formulation, manufacturing, and application of performance-based slick water fluid system additives. The highly-skilled and knowledgeable DCS team specializes in advanced stimulation chemistries that are field proven to provide superior performance, enhanced returns on investment, and consistent quality. The company has worked across the U.S., as well as in Canada, Argentina, and India for major customers including Marathon Oil, Pan American Energy, and Hannathon Petroleum, LLC, to name just a few.
DCS Corporate headquarters are located in Frisco, Texas and the company has facilities in four locations, and a laboratory in Lafayette, Louisiana. The primary facility in Midland, Texas is the oldest DCS facility and covers the Delaware and Midland sub-basins of the larger Permian Basin. The other three have opened during the last two and a half years. The El Reno, Oklahoma facility serves the Anadarko and Arkoma basins; a facility in Pleasanton, Texas is responsible for greater South Texas and the Eagleford Shale and Eagle-Bine Shale areas; and the fourth facility, in Claysville, Pennsylvania, covers the Marcellus and Utica areas.
Downhole Chemical Solutions cuts out the middleman and delivers unique oil field service chemical solutions directly to fracking crews. “What’s happening is a debundling or decoupling,” explains Jason Rall, Vice President of Operations, “and so instead of a chemical company selling to a Haliburton or a Schlumberger and them selling to a Shell or an Exxon, we’re removing the pumping company – it is still there, but now the chemical company is selling direct to the operator E&P (exploration and production) company. So it allows for more individual customization to do some neat things outside of just pumping whatever they tell you to pump.”
DCS develops, manufactures and applies performance-based slick water fluid system additives. It also offers dry friction reducers, an option that has been increasingly utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic. But development and application are only part of what makes Downhole Chemical Solutions successful. The third part is the people leading the company and their experience working in the industry. Downhole Chemical Solutions was founded a little over five years ago by Chase Copeland, president, and Wayne Cutrer, CEO.
Rall reports, “They were working for another oil field service chemical organization and the parent company, as they say, took a right when they should have taken a left during the last downturn. So, unfortunately, that organization was closed but these two entrepreneurs were able to take some of the existing technology and some of the client base and build the business in bootstraps to where they’ve gotten today.” Rall credits Downhole Chemical Solutions’ rapid growth to the unique characteristics of each of the company’s four leaders and the hard work of about 100 employees. Among the company’s leaders, he is the newbie of the group, coming onboard just a few years ago after working for Performance Technologies.
Mark Van Domelen, DCS Vice President of Technology, has more than three decades of experience in the oil and gas industry, holding several management positions, both domestically and internationally, for Haliburton. His primary areas of expertise are in hydraulic fracturing and well completion methodologies. He is also a frequent contributor to technical papers that advance industry knowledge. Cutrer, who also serves as chairman of the board for parent company Dynamic Chemical Solutions, has been working in the oil and gas chemical industry for more than a quarter century. He started the company with Copeland, a former senior business development executive for ChemRock Technologies. Copeland has about a decade of experience in the industry and other attributes that help make the business successful. “Chase (Copeland), the other founder, has been in the industry for less than 10 years, but he’s never met a stranger,” Rall quips, “he’s the sales guy that can open up lots of doors just with his personality.”
The Downhole Chemical Solutions sales team targets people who run large programs with consistent work. They are constantly evaluating what they need do to continue getting in front of the right people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for everyone to physically meet with people, but DCS has tried to take advantage of the unique opportunities this situation has created. Rall acknowledges, “I’ve lost count now, but I would guess we’re probably 100 plus Zoom and Teams meetings in front of new and existing customers that we had pretty good success with, because we were able to have a captive audience. So we were full pedal to the metal as the world fell apart to go through the Rolodex again and get in front of as many people as we could. Because we knew that would change eventually, and hopefully we’ll be able to get back in front of people in person, but who knows when that’s going to happen.”
While sales is an important part of the business, roughly 80% of Downhole Chemical Solutions employees are in direct support field positions. Many of those employees are trained in the dry friction reducer option the company offers. “When you bring out a liquid friction reducer, you’re bringing out roughly 30 percent active product,” says Rall. “So what that means in a gallon of fluid, 8.34 pounds per gallon, you’re bringing out roughly 30 percent active material in that friction reducer to do its job. The other 70 percent is a carrier fluid that’s not really needed, but you need it for that emulsion to work and to function and stay stable. The dry piece is that now we’re bringing out 100 percent friction reducer, so it reduces the truck turns, you need less logistics, but it also drops the cost because you’re not paying for that carrier fluid. And then with our technology we’re taking that dry product, 100 percent active, and converting into that same type of 30 percent active on location with water.”
One of the things that sets Downhole Chemical Solutions apart from competitors is the equipment the company uses. A lot of time is spent to ensure that specialized equipment is oil field friendly, allowing clients to reap the benefits. Transporting that equipment to the field can be challenging. DCS doesn’t have its own trucking piece. Instead, it uses a dedicated third party trucking company called Smart Chemical Logistics. Rall notes, “Historically in the oil field that’s been a big problem, just getting stuff to location with reliable vendors. They’ve moved tens of thousands of loads and certainly haven’t always been perfect but I would say for what we pay, and the relationship we have with them, they do a very good job supporting that piece.”
Another important industry partner for Downhole Chemical Solutions is Kemira – a large manufacturer of polymers. The two entities have been working with each other since DCS was founded. “They’re the ones that produce the friction reducer that we buy,” says Rall, “And then we’re able to go and translate what they do into the oil field-centric space to help get it in the field and in the ground.”
The exclusive chemistries the company creates are primarily driven by operations in the field. Customers discuss what is and what is not working. That feedback informs how the company goes about solving for water quality, operational limitations, or other variables. Research and development is just one part of a triangle that forms the basis of Downhole Chemical Solutions’ plan for the future. The company will also continue to tweak its operations by working to modify equipment, so it is smaller, faster and cheaper. The third piece is the ability of Downhole Chemical Solutions’ people to communicate with completion engineers.
“And so, with that kind of triangle, it allows us to go and speak a bit differently than our competitors about what we’re able to do and the offerings we’re able to bring in regard to how we run the organization and what we’re doing,” Rall shares. “So I think we’ll continue to have other neat chemistry things that come up that we’ll be able to execute on with the team that’s put in place.”
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AT A GLANCE
Downhole Chemical Solutions
What: Develops, manufactures, and applies performance-based slick water fluid system additives
Where: Headquarters in Frisco, Texas