Richard Spears, Managing Director of Tulsa-Based Spears and Associates: Combining Drilling Techniques Could Lead U.S. to Energy Independence
Tuttle, D Ray, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Combining innovations in the exploration and production sector of the oil and natural gas industry could lead the United States to energy independence, said Richard Spears, managing director of Spears and Associates.
Spears, founder of the Tulsa-based business that provides analysis, forecasts and market research to the petroleum equipment and service industry, gave a 30-minute address to about 500 people during the Friends of Finance luncheon Tuesday in the Great Hall of the Allen Chapman Activity Center on the University of Tulsa campus.
"We are a small family business," Spears said, in a self- deprecating manner. "We do not drill holes in the ground; we provide equipment for the companies that drill holes in the ground."
Spears and Associates began in a Tulsa garage in 1965 and today serves petroleum equipment manufacturers, oil-field service firms, financial institutions and research groups around the world. Spears focused on the two greatest technology innovations in the drilling industry over the past six decades.
Spears started by telling of a spring evening in 1981, when he was a young worker with Halliburton in Enid.
"We went around to the drilling rigs in Garfield County to see how the rig was doing," Spears said. "We needed to know how deep the well was, because once the well reached a certain depth, they called Halliburton, got a cement truck out there to cement the well."
On this particular day, there were more than a few people on the rig floor, Spears said.
"When I arrived, I asked one of the men, 'Where is the bottom of the well right now?'" he said. "And he points and says, 'It is over in that pasture there.'"
It was Spears' introduction to horizontal drilling.
"I thought he was jerking my chain," Spears said. "I did not realize it at the time, but Arco was drilling one of the first horizontal wells."
The technology caught on as producers quickly learned that a horizontal well offered thousands of feet of exposure to underground formations containing natural gas.
Spears told how the oil and gas industry spent a lot of money through the 1980s developing the technology with great success.
And while natural gas production soared, oil production continued to slide in the United States.
"Something else besides drilling sideways was needed to get gas out of the rocks," Spears said. …