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Jennifer Pallanich, senior technology editor, Hart Energy: The data van is the hub of NexTier’s completion operations. I'm here today in this Hart Energy LIVE Exclusive with Ben Dickinson. Tell me about the data van.
Ben Dickinson, vice president of strategy and digital development: So the data van really is the heart of our operation when we’re on the well site. It is where all of our completions equipment centralizes all of its controls and all of its data in order to be operated with as few people as humanly possible on location. Some of the advancements that we’ve made over the years is through automation and simplification of all of our equipment, especially with our next generation electric equipment. Things that we were able to control with, let’s say four to five people at any given time, we can now do with either one or possibly even two people on location.
JP: So we’re talking about really trimming that workforce a little bit onsite.
BD: That’s right. It’s all about providing consistency and reliability for our customers. And one of the key ways that NexTier does that is trying to automate and simplify a lot of the, I’d say old manual operations that were on location, and that extends not only into how the equipment is physically operated, but also how it’s controlled.
JP: Okay. So can you tell us a little bit about what we’re seeing here in the data van?
BD: Sure. What we’re seeing here is a representation of, I would say, one of our key stations, which is what we call our treater station. This is where our main supervisor of what we call a treater is taking the parameters given from our customer, what fluids, what sand, what chemicals that they want to pump into their well based off of their stimulation design, and is executing commands to all of the equipment that’s on location in order to enact on those protocols. So this one person is working directly with our customer and then also our remote center in Houston or our NexHub in order to basically deliver that exact procedure and that service to our customers.
JP: Okay. You mentioned something I’d like to hear more about, and that is remote operations. Are we looking at the possibility of remote fracs anytime soon?
BD: Yes, I believe so, and I think NexTier has already kind of started moving in that direction. I would say over the last three to four years, the development of our NexHub digital center. So I'd say the one thing that’s kind of holding us back right now is the ability not just to operate remotely, but to operate remotely and safely. So as you see equipment improve on location, as you see, it’s simplified, it’s also becoming safer. We’re de-risking the well site as well. So I think in the next one to five years, you’re going to see more operators as well as more service companies put more focus on remote operations, and that’s something that NexTier has already started putting a way forward with the development of our well center.
JP: Excellent. Can you tell me anything more about NexTier’s visions for remote operations?
BD: Sure. I think I would say in the next, like I said, in the next one to five years, I do see us putting more of a focus on working directly with our customers, whether it is through our remote center or through a remote center that they might be setting up, pairing and partnering together in order to help complete their wells in a more consistent and better fashion.
JP: Thank you so much for describing everything that we’re seeing here in the data van. It’s been very enlightening, and I look forward to the future of remote operations. Thanks for joining us in this Hart Energy LIVE exclusive.