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Making field tickets easier to manage

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The 'field ticket' process, paying suppliers for work done at well sites, still involves much manual work. Dave Savelle, General Manager, Field Ticket at Enverus, based in Austin Texas, explained the issues.

US wellsite service providers typically issue paper documents, known as “field tickets”, after they have done work, documenting what has been done, and what needs to be paid for.

These field tickets go through a process of getting approved by oil companies, so invoices can be issued and payments made.

The process is still very manual, which means it has higher costs, time and inaccuracy rates than if it was all digitised.

In a pre-internet era, when everything was done on paper, it could take 8-10 weeks for the whole process of the field ticket being sent to the oil company, pricing checked, invoice approved, invoice coded / routed, and loaded to a payment system to be paid, says Dave Savelle, General Manager, Field Ticket at Enverus, a company providing electronic solutions for field ticket management, based in Austin, Texas.

By 2010, companies were using digital technology to make and route invoices, but the paper field ticket system persisted, Mr Savelle said. But electronic field tickets would mean customers could have a single step for approval, invoicing, and payment.

One of the reasons for reluctance to move to electronic field tickets is that supplier administration departments wanted to have an intermediate approval step, so did not want an electronic system which would automatically transmit the field ticket data from the worksite, as the “document of record”.

“Suppliers don’t trust their field hands to be the ‘source of truth’ related to cost, scope and quantity related to a field ticket,” he said. “They want to check the pricing, was the right discount used, does scope align with work done, was the right catalogue item selected.

Some suppliers issue field tickets within a day of the task being done. But other suppliers route the tickets through to a head office, and may not issue them for a week.

Some companies have developed automated tools which could create field tickets with less error – for example using GPS data to make sure that the field ticket connects with the right well, and so the right customer. But this proved difficult to make work. GPS systems are often not high enough resolution, particularly when there many different objects in a small space for the computer to identify, he said.

Geotracking systems rely on handheld devices to track the movements of drivers, but it “relies on drivers and crews to use it properly,” he said.

Integrating with production software

Meanwhile, oil companies want to be ever more sophisticated in how they predict and track spending for different projects, which means they need good field ticket data.

They would also like an integrated system for approving purchasing, which means integrating all the purchasing data into their ‘morning reports’ to be approved.

This means that all of the costs need to be entered manually into their systems from the field tickets, including descriptions of the costs, cost codes, vendor names. There can be inaccuracies.

Sometimes there are multiple types of ticket in use, such as “general ticket”, “materials ticket” and “hauling ticket”. Customers don’t necessarily have the same labels as a supplier.

Companies want to be able to split up costs for drilling and completing wells, and production operations. This can be challenging when (for example) both fracturing and production mean water flowing to the surface, which will be collected by one truck issuing a single bill.

Consider a situation where 8 wells are connected to one storage tank for produced water. 6 of the wells are in production, 2 were recently completed.

The company has to decide how much of the costs of water collection should be allocated to “flowback” (water which flows to the surface after hydraulic fracturing), and how much should be allocated to operating expenses. Then these costs need to be broken down and assigned to the individual wells to work out the costs of each well.

“One operator was doing this manually with a series of spreadsheets. It was awful, they had a small army of people. In this environment there’s no way they can afford to support that small army,” he said.

What typically happens is that the costs of a well in the software is only aligned with the actual costs after the invoices have been received.

About Enverus

Enverus, formerly known as Drilling info, provides “Data, information, and actionable insights to make critical business decisions across the energy value chain”. It acquired Oildex in September 2018, an oil and gas financial automation company.

Over the 12 months April 2019 to March 2020, its system handled over 2 million field tickets, with total spend of $6.18bn, with 4000 suppliers.

Enverus provides an online portal which can be used to generate field tickets. “We’ve taken an end to end process and made it completely digital,” says Mr Savelle.

Most of its field tickets are generated through its online portal. Only small percentages are generated by other means as “true B2B transactions”, including direct integrations with supplier software (JSON/ API), going through 3rd party integrators, or PIDX electronic commerce standards.

Mr Savelle thinks there could be an opportunity for PIDX, as a standards body, in “providing leadership in enhancing standards for data and transport layers for field ticket information”.

PIDX already has a field ticket standard, but there are “certain quantities and data elements currently not managed,” he said.

Associated Companies
» Enverus
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