For the major players in the Canadian oil industry, living with unreliable technology isn’t an option. That’s where Element Technical Services comes in. The Alberta-based company specializes in providing fracking and coiled tubing services. It’s incredibly complicated technology used in high-stakes situations, but a nimble development process means Element is able to give its clients what they need: peace of mind.
For the uninitiated: fracking involves fracturing rock using pressurized liquid to access the natural gas that lies beneath. And coiled tubing is the process by which a long length of metal is inserted into a well to extract oil.
Element has earned an advantage in this realm by looking forward, according to CFO Brendan Nelson. While many of the company’s competitors rely on established technologies, Element invests heavily in field research to refine its offerings and ensure its products are best in class.
Element has built a reputation for its in-house-developed products, which hold up in frigid temperatures and are designed to cut down on pricey heating and chemical costs—important considerations during Albertan winters. All new products are put through rigorous trials in the company’s test wells, a process that carries the added bonus of giving clients success metrics (an extremely useful selling asset for new equipment). “I think a key differentiator is that we bring in new ideas with a very short innovation cycle,” explains Nelson. “Some companies will spend an enormous amount on research and development without results. We routinely collect data from the field and immediately collaborate to utilize it.” The whole process enhances well economics, improves levels of service and bolsters trust—all things that benefit customers.
In tests and beyond, upper management listens carefully to field workers, who often have the best insight into how the product is succeeding, and what might need to be changed. Nelson also cites the diversity of educational backgrounds in the core management team—each member of which has been with the company since its start in 2011—as one of its main strengths.
“We’ve got engineers, chartered accountants and operations managers. Everyone brings a different ingredient to the pie,” he explains. “We’ve found ways to overlap and work together. Now that we’re a bigger business, we still have the same team, and we all wear multiple hats. Nobody works in a silo.”