If ever you needed proof that one person can build a legacy, look no further than Erle P. Halliburton. When this inventor and former navy man tried to suggest improvements to the new practice of cementing wells to his boss, he was fired. So in 1919, he took his ideas and built them into a business of his own. With a borrowed pump, a wagon, a team of mules and a wooden cement-mixing box, Halliburton founded an oil well cementing business in Duncan, Oklahoma, which soon became the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company.
In 1922, Erle Halliburton established his company as the authority on cementing when he invented a jet mixer that allowed him to quickly produce cement of a consistent quality, and his techniques prevented well casing from collapsing. Today, Halliburton continues its founder’s quest for excellence by investing in cementing innovations in its more than 100 cement labs across the globe, contributing everything from new equipment to slurry design to 3D modelling and predictive analysis to the industry.
“We come from very humble beginnings in 1919. By 1926 Erle had sent his two brothers, George and Paul, to Turner Valley to start Halliburton Canada, and we’ve been here ever since,” says John Gorman, vice president of Halliburton Canada.
Since then Halliburton has expanded across the world. While a North American entity to start, Halliburton established operations in Venezuela in 1940 and in the Middle East in 1946, and was listed on the stock exchange for the first time in 1948. The company also enjoyed growth in Germany, Italy, Argentina and England in the 1950s and continued to expand into new markets as opportunities arose throughout the 20th century. Today, Halliburton has more than 60,000 employees working in 80 countries on every continent.
“We are probably one of the most multicultural companies in the world,” Gorman says. “We have 140 different nationalities who work for us in 80 different countries.”
In Canada, Halliburton employs about 1,500 people in 30 offices across the country. While most are field locations, the company has a larger presence in the major hubs of Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Lloydminster and St. John’s. In Canada and around the world, Halliburton has become one of the largest oilfield services companies. Over the past 100 years, it has added to its cementing stronghold with a variety of diverse products and services operating worldwide.
Halliburton has grown beyond cementing wells to include 14 product service lines that involve everything from wireline and perforating to pipeline and process services; directional drilling (including measurement while drilling and logging while drilling) and coring to well control and prevention; chemical services and project management to software. While some of the growth has been organic, many of these businesses resulted from key acquisitions.
“If we decide that we have a hole in the portfolio that we need to fill, we will either develop internally or acquire that technology and the people, and run it as a fully-integrated product or service line of Halliburton,” Gorman says.
In 1999, Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries and with it Sperry Drilling, Baroid and Drill Bits & Services (DBS), thus greatly enhancing the company’s drilling capabilities. All of these entities were top performers in their markets and ideal to fill that hole in the portfolio. Today, drilling comprises about half of Halliburton’s work, with the company drilling more than 80 per cent of all the SAGD wells in Canada.
In 1949, Erle Halliburton blazed the trail in hydraulic fracturing and Halliburton has remained a leader in this area. Hydraulic fracturing, or production enhancement, currently represents its largest product service line. The company introduced a new approach to fracturing that improved production and efficiencies while also addressing health, safety and environmental concerns. The advanced pumping designs, sand delivery and pump monitoring have helped decrease the environmental footprint of many operations. Halliburton’s Q10 pump balances components on the trucks, minimizing vibration damage and noise, while reducing maintenance time; almost doubling the time between preventative maintenance in many instances.
These innovations helped Halliburton lead the shale revolution and hydraulic fracturing boom beginning in 2008. In Canada, Halliburton has focused over the past five years on the area from central Alberta to northeast British Columbia, from the Cardium formation to the Duvernay and Montney formations.
“That’s where there are better returns. Canadian E&P companies are no longer focusing on increasing production but rather are focusing on increasing returns because of the lack of new investment in Canada from domestic and international private equity,” Gorman says.
The economic and political situation in Canada has been a challenge for resource companies and has made them re-evaluate how they do business. Halliburton adapted to the new market conditions by providing industry-leading innovative solutions that seek to reduce costs and increase productivity. Something as simple as maintenance has given Halliburton a competitive advantage such as implementing onboard sensors on certain equipment so engineers can monitor and help prevent overheating and washouts.
“We’ve had to find a way to differentiate ourselves by reducing internal costs and improving efficiency. The only way we’re going to be able to win work is to be able to save our customers money,” says Gorman. “If customers can’t reduce costs, they’re not working and neither are we. It’s been a forced new normal.”
Halliburton is also helping customers maximize their existing well sites by developing a ranging technology by which they can possibly drill infill wells on existing pads. Customers may not have to build a new pad or change their surface infrastructure, essentially doubling the life of a field in many cases. While customers may extract around 35 per cent of the oil contained in conventional reservoirs, steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology may allow them to get up to 85 per cent of the resource out of a reservoir.
This high level of efficiency is critical in today’s oil and gas industry, and Halliburton takes pride in working to maximize production while decreasing environmental impact and costs. The industry has found ways to reduce its potable water use dramatically. While the misconception is that these processes deplete freshwater sources, the truth is Halliburton uses primarily subsurface saline water, brackish surface water and processed water from sewage treatment plants, not fresh potable water.
The Halliburton team is dedicated to protecting the environment and encourages innovative solutions to environmental, safety and quality challenges. In fact, the company holds 50,000 patent grants and pending for technology and services that aim to make projects more efficient and customers more profitable. It’s investment like this that lets customers know that Halliburton will deliver on its promises and will strive to get the job done and done well. Halliburton teams are dedicated to maximizing the asset value for customers and are known as globally-competitive, creative and ethical thought leaders who deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Despite downturns and challenges, Halliburton continues to grow and provide superior service as it helps its customers navigate the new normal in global oil and gas markets.
“We still feel that there is a large demand for oil and gas for the foreseeable future. And given the fact that Canada contains 55 per cent of the world’s non-OPEC or non-NOC oil, Canada has a bright future as well,” says John Gorman.
To continue to meet that demand, Halliburton will do what it has done for the past 100 years – provide quality service, innovative technologies and specialized expertise to best serve its oil and gas customers across the globe.