[Editor’s note: This story appears in the May 2020 edition of E&P. Subscribe to the magazine here.]

It is easy to miss the individual trees when staring at the forest that is the petroleum industry. There are layers upon layers of business transactions and engineering decisions, so when viewed as a whole, the complicated beauty of what is essentially a logistics puzzle is lost. In its complexity, however, are the tools helping to make efficient and unique responses to the COVID-19 pandemic possible.

While consumer outlets like grocery stores are keeping the public stocked up with necessary supplies, where do oil and gas operators get their supplies? GoExpedi, an emerging e-commerce platform, has supplied operators with millions of nonsurgical masks, thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and “an absurd amount of toilet paper,” according to a press release.

The company normally supplies critical components to keep drilling operations running. It has shifted from valves, sensors, gauges, rope, soap and dope to filling requests for pandemic essentials like hand sanitizer and gloves for the petroleum industry.

Started in January 2017, GoExpedi is the culmination of the many years of experience in the maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) space that founder Tim Neal brings to the company.

“In the energy MRO space, [when] anything wears out, runs out or breaks, companies would turn to brick-and-mortar style services, similar to a Sears or Home Depot, for supplies,” Neal told E&P. “When you have brick and mortar and antiquated processes like over-the-phone [and] email orders, you lose time and a sense of urgency.”

While consumer outlets are keeping the public stocked up with necessary supplies, where do oil and gas operators get their supplies?

GoExpedi is similar to Amazon in that it is a procurement platform that controls the logistics of the product and the time variable, with the optionality of working with more than 200 manufacturers, Neal added.

“What sets us apart, especially in this new age of oil that we’ve entered into in the last month, are our live analytics, combined with a world-class global supply chain. An operator can see asset-by-asset expenditures in real time and can benchmark performance across other assets to see if there is erroneous spending happening,” he said. “There is full transparency from corporate to the field, and [users are] getting the parts on time.”

The industry’s response to COVID-19 was swift, in his opinion.

“Their response plan put measures in place to protect their employees immediately,” he said. “Our clients can audit us in real time to see how we’re protecting their employees and how we’re providing their products in case there is any interruption.”

Hand sanitizer, wipes, nitrile gloves and nonsurgical masks are the most requested items at present.

“Our ability to provide the analytics across an entire fleet for a company is critical,” he said. “We’re able to see in real time that a field received only two of the 10 boxes of gloves it ordered. It’s making sure that we can all get ahead of the curve rather than behind it.”

According to Neal, there’s been a significant shift from the top down around safety.

“Before it spread from the field level, but right now it’s top down, with our clients needing to ensure every location has the safety products it needs. They’re making sure all the risks throughout their supply chain are mitigated and their people are protected throughout the pandemic. It is a shift because it is not just about the dollars; it’s about the safety of their people.”