Halliburton is a well-known brand in the oilfield industry for both its quality of service and its innovation, much of it tested and proved right here in the Bakken.
Wednesday, the industry giant gathered with some of its nearly 1,000 employees and community members to celebrate not only its 100th year as a company, but its new home in the old Baker Hughes facility, where it has built a much larger cement plant.
The new plant can manufacture 6,000 cubic feet per day of cement, or 180,000 cubic feet per month, of any of 35 different specialty blends that the company offers. Each of these blends has different properties, and is selected based on engineering criteria for individual wells.
In addition to greater volume, the new plant can also dual load from both sides, which is another point for better efficiency.
“The old plant had a bottleneck from a capacity standpoint,” said Thomas Johnson, Vice President of the Rockies. “And we were having to do certain things in the lab that we can now do physically in the bulk plant.”
The fate of the old plant has not been decided, but there are no plans to continue using it as a cement plant, Johnson added.
“There is more than enough capacity at the new plant to cover all the customer needs in North Dakota,” he said.
Cement has been a speciality of Halliburton’s since its humble Texas beginnings in 1919 by Erle Palmer Halliburton.
Halliburton had been an engineer with Perkins Cementing in California as a consulting engineer for drilling and well cementing. He was charged with developing new ideas, however they met with a fair amount of resistance.
He called his new company the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company. It’s inventory at the time included a borrowed pump, a wagon, a mule team and a wooden mixing box. His wife’s wedding ring, meanwhile, was the startup funding.
His revolutionary ideas were better, but didn’t really take off until he tamed a wild well in Oklahoma for the Skelly Oil Company. It was 1924, and the company’s name became Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company, or HOWCO.
Halliburton continued to pursue innovative approaches to the production of oil and gas throughout his career. He retired in 1947 due to poor health, but the company continued, becoming Halliburton Services in 1962.
Halliburton has been in North Dakota markets for about half of its 100 years, according to Robert Harber, business development vice president for North America.
While Halliburton was present in the community in the 80s, it really began expanding its presence and investing more heavily in the Bakken during the latest oil boom.
“At that time, Halliburton really started to invest in the area from the standpoint of expanding facilities, crews, and product lines,” Harber said. “And that was through a lot of innovation and technology that we were able to bring to the industry, along with partnerships with our clients and vendors to supply this market.”
Not only did Halliburton invest in Williston, however, the community has made its share of investment as well, Harber added.
“It’s in a good place to have that infrastructure to support the workforce that our industry needs to have for a sustainable marketplace,” Harber said. “And some of that was the result of expanding facilities and investments made early on. It’s a great day here for Halliburton. We are renewing that investment, and it puts a better roof over the heads of our employees.”
Harber said the Bakken has done much of the front-end work that is making other shale plays go.
“Horizontal drilling didn’t start here,” Harber said. “But horizontal drilling into shale, this is one of the first places that that was executed. And what really changed it was being able to take the approach of encasing the well and completing certain parts of the well to make it more effective.”
That technological know-how has proved portable to many other shale plays, such as the Permian.
Completion technology is continuing to evolve and improve, Harber added, and he believes that the Bakken will continue to be at the center of these efforts for a long time to come.
“Our customers continue to see results that are encouraging enough, such that the cash flow potential continues to improve over time,” Harber said. “And it can continue to advance. (The Bakken) is not on a decline, it is on an incline.”