Q&A With Nick Hines: How OWL is Succeeding During Tough Economic Times
1. Hi Nick, thanks for speaking with me today! Let’s start by you just telling me a little about yourself and your experience in the industry.
Answer: Thanks Michelle! I’ve been in the industry for over fifteen years. I spent thirteen of those years in upstream, focusing on operations and facilities. Prior to joining Oilfield Water Logistics (OWL) in 2018, I spent eleven years at Pioneer Natural Resources. During this time, I filled the role of Engineering and Construction Manager and was part of the initial management team that helped build Pioneer Water Management into the largest, most diverse water treatment and distribution system in the oilfield today.
2. Thanks for sharing Nick. We are living through unprecedented times. How will the Water Midstream Industry ride this current tide? Will OWL survive or thrive?
Answer: Nobody likes to see the energy market like it is today. In this industry, you know you will have ups and downs, but I’m not sure that anyone could have prepared for what has happened. This turned in to the perfect storm with supply and demand having simultaneous negative impacts. To survive in this environment, you have to have a strong balance sheet, efficient operations, and a strong customer base. At OWL, we have all three.
Great companies take advantage of times like this and I am confident OWL will be in that category when the dust settles, hopefully soon. OWL has been around for a long time and has weathered weak commodity prices, not exactly to the extent of this one. Actually when you look at OWL today, it was built in a time similar to this. We are optimistic and excited for what is to come, but like everyone else, we are hoping to see it rebound quickly.
3. Timing is everything, and looking back now it seems like luck was always on your side. How will this serendipity be an advantage for you this season?
Answer: Building a great company like we have at OWL starts with the people and most importantly the people in the field. OWL has the best. It also takes hard work and timing. In the downturn of 2015, OWL was able to execute on projects and contracts that make OWL the company it is today. With a new partner, we are well-positioned to continue our growth story in this difficult market.
4. Tell us more about your projects and acquisitions heading into a season where we will all see OWL’s peak production.
Answer: We have several large pipeline projects and disposal facilities planned for 2020 to handle contracts we have agreed to over the past five months around our Lea County, New Mexico footprint. These will also require additional disposal wells on the current network. We recently acquired a large footprint in Eddy County, which we are very excited about due to the phenomenal growth opportunities. At the moment, we’re busy getting it integrated into our current operations as we hope there will be more to come.
Operators are starting to look for a strategic exit from water supply and disposal. We will evaluate each to determine what makes sense strategically. OWL feels, to grow at a healthy rate, it takes both acquisitions (platforms and bolt on) and organic growth, which is how OWL has historically grown.
This downturn will be unprecedented for the water disposal due to reuse slowing down. Currently a large volume of water is being reused. When drilling and completions slows down, that water will need to be disposed. We will see a large wall of water when this happens. It is important for us to be in a position to handle this for our customers. This wall will be followed with a sharp decline. OWL is currently hitting record disposal volumes.
5. A breath of fresh air in the market that brings hope to many workers affected right now is learning that OWL actually needs to DOUBLE in size and is actually walking into a hiring peak. That said, to those interested in joining your company, can you explain why your churn is so low in a market whose biggest challenge is retaining top talent? What benefits do you offer that allow OWL to have one of the best and motivated working environments?
Answer: With a strong balance sheet, we are well-positioned to capitalize on the current market. I see scenarios where we can double our footprint through acquisitions that will require staff. Growing in a time like this is ideal for OWL as attracting talent, especially in Midland, is achievable.
We continue to operate with a small company mentality. All employees have access to our executives including the CEO. We allow flexibility and keep family first. Our turnover rate is extremely low. I make a point to communicate across our organization and it is not uncommon for field employees to call me at home about my thoughts on a wide range of things. It may be a conversation about my opinion of what kind of car they should purchase for their family! For the entire OWL executive team, our people are what’s most important. We don’t just talk about it but show it by our actions, especially when an employee is in need.