Voices of the industry: Well aware of well sites

Bill Littleton, managing director, client services and field operations at WellAware Holdings, spoke about days gone by, pioneering chemical injection processes, recruiting talent, and living life.

By Rick Ellis July 1, 2015

Oil & Gas Engineering (OGE): What is your job and key areas of responsibility?

Bill Littleton: As the managing director of Client Services and Field Operations at WellAware, my key responsibilities are providing our customers with the support and training required to smoothly transition the management of their production data, reporting, and control, onto the WellAware platform. After the customer’s data have been visualized, we provide comprehensive training to all personnel who will be using the software. Training our customers is a key metric in measuring the success of effectively bringing on new customers, and something I watch very closely. Keeping customers engaged in using the platform and realizing the value of having access to real-time data, standard reporting platforms, multiple alarm platforms, and notifications, as well as the ability to perform setpoint adjustments remotely, are vital to helping our customers optimize their production performance, reduce downtime, and enhance their profitability. We have also initiated programs to assist our clients by monitoring their usage frequency and the action types performed to further assist them in establishing best practice programs and to ensure proper interpretation of the data being received. On the field operations side, the priority is making certain that all of the field equipment (i.e., instrumentation, local control, final control elements, power sources, networks, and communications links) are defined, specified, installed, and validated for accuracy. I also work on scheduling and coordinating the total installation efforts with our network and software engineers and field personnel.

OGE: For what types of facilities do you provide work? What are the primary deliverables that your company provides?

Littleton: Our primary focal points are oil and gas production facility operations and midstream (pipeline and compression) operations. Our objective is to provide a full stack solution. We provide and install all the field measurement devices, communication links (RTUs), and network connections (radios, satellite, etc.), and provide all of the required data on an easy-to-use platform for both network and mobile devices.

OGE: How did you end up in this industry, and how long have you been in it?

Littleton: I actually started working in electrical and automation controls as an apprentice, working part-time while in high school and throughout the summers. That was in 1967 and I continued while attending college.

OGE: What is the best part of your job?

Littleton: The best part of the job is working with the people in this industry, such as engineers, operators, and everyone in between. I’ve been fortunate to make some great friendships along the way.

OGE: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Littleton: Staying informed on the latest technologies available, promoting them, and aligning those new technologies with traditional market acceptance is the most challenging aspect.

OGE: What are some of the specific regulatory codes or standards that most directly affect your area of the industry and your job?

Littleton: Because our target market is oil and gas production and midstream operations, we must be aware of many of the regulations (environmental, health, and safety) that affect the industry. Our product offering impacts the overall performance of oil and gas operations that improve safety, provide opportunities to reduce emissions, and limits risks in health, all of which help lower costs.

OGE: What are the some areas involving new technology or processes that you are working on now or will be in the near future?

Littleton: One of the most exciting new areas for us is chemical optimization. Chemical costs are typically among the biggest cost drivers for operators, and the ability to accurately and appropriately inject chemicals into wells and reservoirs is a promising new venture. We are working to reduce costs and increase uptime, and we are developing a chemical management process that both correlates injection rates to production and improves visibility for the operator. In the end, operators will have lower costs because they are not over-injecting, and increased production because they are sure they are not under-injecting.

OGE: What is your company doing to recruit and train new employees?

Littleton: Our company is always looking for talented individuals, even if they reside outside of our target industry market. Our best achievements in bringing on high performing, quality personnel have primarily been through networking. We employ a wide variety of talented individuals that includes software designers, network and design engineers, product managers, technicians, and sales experts. Each individual brings unique knowledge of the industry and his or her particular domain, as well as access to a wide network of quality people. When we decide to bring an individual into the WellAware family his or her skill set has already been aligned to the job that he or she will be performing. Other than learning the details about the operation and personnel, training is typically minimal.

OGE: Where are your best sources for information in your field or area of specialty?

Littleton: Without a doubt, the best source of information on how an oil and gas asset is performing and what needs to be done to enhance well performance or improvements in asset operations, is to go directly to the source: field personnel. I have always respected the input provided by field pumpers, I&E personnel, and other production operators. Sure, I have had many a well-seasoned production engineer, facilities engineer, or other operational engineer that I looked to or who mentored me throughout my years, but all of them got their start in the field and were more than likely taken under the wing of a good field hand.

OGE: What do you like to do in your free time from work?

Littleton:I have been riding Harleys for many years and thoroughly enjoy riding through the Texas Hill Country where I live. I have participated in many cross-country road trips and a couple of rides to Sturgis-I think I have at least one more of those left in me. I enjoy shooting, shotguns mainly, hunting, fishing, and being in the company of good friends, and oh yeah, spending time with my wife. 11. We want to share wisdom in a fun, conversational way. Please give your fellow engineers some advice by completing the following sentence: "Take it from a guy who…" Littleton: …has honestly been there and done that. If you want to succeed in life, listen more and talk less. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and, by all means, be gracious and be respectful of others. Creating a network of friends who will support your efforts goes a long way in this business, and it also helps to keep the blood-pressure down.

– Rick Ellis is the managing director of Oil & Gas Engineering for CFE Media, edited by Eric R. Eissler, editor-in-chief, Oil & Gas Engineering, eeissler@cfemedia.com

Original content can be found at Oil and Gas Engineering.