Selling Drilling Data like a Smart Phone

Corva’s challenge is to change the behavior of drillers who work for somebody else. The fast-growing company has no shortage of users.

Corva offers customer support using drilling veterans with a range of experience. A team of three drilling analysts are available around the clock to monitor and analyze drilling.
Source: Corva.

Corva: Selling the User Experience

Corva’s challenge is to change the behavior of drillers who work for somebody else. The fast-growing company has no shortage of users. Retaining those customers will require convincing oil companies that the real-time drilling data and analysis is creating enough value to justify the cost.

Getting workers at client companies to use the system, much less use it effectively, requires coaxing. It can hope that client companies push workers to use what it offers and builds its numbers into drilling routines.

But Corva’s main levers are sharp graphics highlighting insights from drilling analysis that can be displayed on a range of devices, backed up with personal support from drilling veterans on staff.

“We do not publicize this but our secret sauce is about the user experience,” said Ryan Dawson, founder and chief executive officer of Corva. He defined the goal as delivering “a product they want to use, they love to use.”

Readers who concluded Dawson came from the consumer technology sector are correct. Previously he worked for a software firm in Austin, Texas whose clients included Netflix and Microsoft. And, yes, he is trying to create a service that is as intuitive and addictive as an iPhone.

It features 60 drilling apps. It is expanding next into completions. It is field-testing 20 apps built for real-time monitoring and analysis of horizontal well completions.

Corva has been investing in both advanced analytics to aid decision making, and experts to add the voice of experience. Those providing support have experience in directional drilling or measurement while drilling and can connect with drillers by talking their language, Dawson said.

The job is to “do whatever you can to make someone happy,” short of telling a customer what they should do, Dawson said. Telling them what to do is against the rules. Corva is working to provide better information for decision makers, but ultimately the conclusions will vary depending on many factors.

Corva is competing with other real-time drilling data services and companies with their own systems. The starting point for users is creating a dashboard featuring a handful of apps relating to the person’s specialty.

If a user’s focus is on drilling floor efficiency, they will include the app monitoring pipe connection times, which shows when those rates are lagging compared with high-performing wells. The time saved per connection looks small, but in a test it allowed a client to shave many days of work, as can faster drilling.

A directional driller will likely want to see the slide percentage—a measure of how much sliding time is required to drill a curve. A lower percentage is better because progress slows during sliding.

An app analyzing hole quality based on dogleg severity—the tightness of bends—has attracted the interest of an executive vice president with one big independent, who has set up an alert, and will send out a message to the rig when a threshold level is crossed, said Dawson.

Human Decisions

A drilling advisor offers useful bits of information, from the suggested weight to put on the bit to warnings of leaks. It is still up to human beings to put all these variables together to solve the problem.

Beaver Drilling created a rig leadership program for its drillers based on the observation that drillers need to be trained to effectively use digital tools to lead efforts to find ways to improve performance.

“We use Corva and other drilling analytics tools, and some from operators,” said Kevin Krausert, chief executive officer for Beaver Drilling.  

The initial reaction by drillers was often wary because they worried that their moves were recorded and graded based on the machine’s standard. Beaver worked to overcome that reluctance by making it clear that “rigorous analysis empowers the driller to understand what they’re doing,” he said. In other words, their job is to make use of the numbers to do better.

“I see these as really valuable tools. But without the right culture and the right training, they get lost,” Krausert said.

Corva cannot control the organization, but its ability to track who is using the system allows it to identify “super users” who adopt the system early and use it often.

Dawson said Corva does “everything it can to empower them.” They are influencers in the office who can help win over and train non-users, which typically represent 30% of the potential user base.

“We monitor what everyone is saying. They like this app more than that. They are not using these apps that are not adding value,” Dawson said, adding, “Customers come up with the best ideas.”

Users do not appear to be defined by age, gender, or job title, said Cody Byrd, operations team lead for Corva, who described users as from the “C-suite to the rig floor.”

While engineers took longer to start using Corva than drillers, Dawson said that engineers use its data to select which components to put together in the bottomhole assembly and track performance indicators.

Ultimately, Dawson said, drillers and others will use a drilling advisor if it helps “them do what they know how to do better.”

The third of four JPT stories on drillers leading change.
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