Maintenance Management of Oil Wells

Episode 6

Maintenance Management Podcast


About this episode

Oil and Gas industry is a high Capex and Opex industry. Maintaining assets in the industry is not just about uptime but also about the availability of the most used commodity. Konrad Ritter, Maintenance Manager at Halliburton shares insights on how he manages multi-million dollar oil assets.


INTRO: Downtime, spreadsheets, technician problems, communications problems, maintenance management, maintenance budget, predictive maintenance, reactive maintenance, CMMS Software.

Matt: [00:00:30] Hi guys and welcome back to the Comparesoft podcast. This week we have a fantastic special guest, Konrad Ritter, who is a reliability and maintenance manager engineer with 20 years of international experience at Halliburton, working in the oil and gas industry. And Konrad currently works at Halliburton and is responsible for maximizing asset availability and improving equipment reliability by applying cost-effective maintenance strategies based on data analytics. Now Konrad, welcome to the show. How are you, sir?

Konrad Ritter: [00:01:10] Thank you very much. Glad to be here. I am doing okay after the Holocaust of COVID, right. So it’s been very challenging for us here in Saudi Arabia especially. But yeah, we’re getting through and it’s getting in the end so really glad. Thanks for having me here.

Matt: [00:01:31] And how has COVID affected your work in the business, has it had a big impact on how you work?

Konrad Ritter: [00:01:40] It’s a huge impact in terms of resource availability and personnel availability mainly. In terms of work, we’ve been very busy in the whole COVID time. As we are an international operation, a lot of people are international and there is a lot of people on a rotational basis, right. And I would say I have half of the workforce right now and we still need to deliver the same quality of service. So it’s been very challenging. It’s getting there. I’m really glad on that. Things are crazy. My family is locked outside the country. I have not seen them for six months but I’m counting the days. I’m going to travel this month so it be will very good.

Matt: [00:02:30] Very difficult of course. Well, could you tell us then what you do at Halliburton in a little bit more detail?

Konrad Ritter: [00:02:38] Right. Let me give a little bit of background. So in oil and gas, there’s a very different niche of work and my speciality is in wire-line data acquisition. That means we drill a well and then my team (PSA) goes in to do acquisition real-time. Then we have very special equipment with hydraulics, electronics and all kinds of sensors you can imagine; radioactive sensors, and we run these in the wells. The wells are not very friendly. They are high temperature and there’s a lot of vibration. And you can imagine, it’s very challenging to acquire data and you travelling in the well so it’s kind of a very unique type of assets. We develop — majority of assets are proprietary technology from the companies or maybe third party in this type of business. And as time is money, especially in the oil and gas industry, you don’t want to stop operation. It’s very challenging for us in terms of reliability. So we need to have a very strong team in the ground. You need to make sure your assets are ready. We do a lot of qualification. We do a very intensive refurbishment program. It’s very interesting. I don’t think any other industry spends so much money on refurbishing equipment to make sure they are going to survive. And you don’t want to stop an operation which cost a million a day so they have everybody be awake for you. Every hour here is a big impact for us. I have a specialty team so we train majority of the people in-house. We hire engineers, electrical engineers, electronic, mechanicals, you name it – the type of engineering there.

Matt: [00:04:56] Okay, sounds fantastic. And so then how would you set a good maintenance culture within the business and your team?

Konrad Ritter: [00:05:04] I think the main key point there is to plan the right resources and make sure you’re up to speed in the technology running. So it’s very important you understand how much — I like to say that I have my spreadsheets trying to get there but I do calculate even the amount of hours I need for man hours.You need to make sure the people you bring have the ability to maintain the technology you have. And this planning in terms of understanding your assets very well, what type of personnel you need to maintain those assets and then you blend that very well and you make sure your resources, spare parts arrive on time, and it’s very easy to be successful in this field.

Matt: [00:06:01] Yeah. Okay. And so then how do you go about planning maintenance activities?

Konrad Ritter: [00:06:07] First is define the type of assets you have, and find the strategies you want to apply to maintain them. And once you have this definition, you make sure you have the right resources to put in place there to execute. And monitoring the execution is very important. So you do all this plan, you do all this strategy, but you want to make sure things are going as planned or if it’s not, you need to adjust. In this business, it’s very fast paced so we do a lot of adjustment from the planning to the deployment so I think those are the important steps there.

Matt: [00:06:51] Okay. And so then moving on slightly more from that. How would you implement an effective maintenance plan within the business?

Konrad Ritter: [00:07:03] Again particularly, I dig down to understand the type of assets we have. We define the metrics we’re going to use and we want to make sure you’re going to monitor those metrics and you’re going to do the intervention in the assets at that time. So to be effective in that, it’s a lot of monitoring and understanding if things are going fine. Unfortunately, even with our money we spend, we still have a lag on technology so tracking assets in real time data, they still have a lot of data coming in spreadsheets or through emails and you need to collect all this and put this into action, do the interpretation of the data and make sure we are executing on time. Even without this is dynamic and the volume of data we get, as long as you are able to keep monitoring on time, you are able to task and make sure the execution is done .

Matt: [00:08:11] Right. And so do you think software tools are useful for managing maintenance activities?

Konrad Ritter: [00:08:18] Definitely yes. However, the difficulty we have is there is no specific software for this industry; for oil and gas and even in oil and gas, there are several fronts that you can go. But specifically for wireline, it’s a kind of — the technology between the lines and broader the types of technologies, it’s not easy to get a software developed. So we use the big software like ASAP but it’s very limited so we adapt it ourselves to put the data in and take the data out. We really wish to have a proper software developed specifically for what we do. We try our best. I can still code and I have a lot of colleagues also who do some coding, we do some scripts which help us but there is not a specific software. The more we get the software adjusted, the better it gets.

Matt: [00:09:35] Okay. Very interesting indeed. And so what’s your take on using spreadsheets for maintenance management? Are they a good thing or a bad thing? Do you have experience with those?

Konrad Ritter: [00:09:47] Look I’m an expert on spreadsheets. That’s because we need to. Whatever the software will come up, we’ll still go back and we’re still going to do analysis and spreadsheets are still a fast way for you to put data together and do analysis. We are kind of moving to whatever is available right now; Power BI, and it’s helping us a lot. But we’re going to drag spreadsheets for a few more years for sure.

Matt: [00:10:20] So they have their place basically, right?

Konrad Ritter: [00:10:23] They have their place, yes. I think it’s one tool, one very powerful tool that you can use when you need it. From today, the technology we have there, I’d still sometimes say, oh, I need to go to excel and do some analysis there.

Matt: [00:10:44] Right. Okay. And so, how would you use maintenance as a competitive advantage in the business?

Konrad Ritter: [00:10:51] So that’s very important on our business here. So Halliburton is in second place worldwide. We have a competitor who is huge. Those guys are investing a lot in technology but our differential is service quality. So we are the best performer here in Saudi Arabia on our line. And that keeps us in the business. Even if our technology is not the latest one in most of the branches, but we keep a service quality and we are competing head to head. So it’s really important. And in this business, they don’t have too much forgiveness when you have failures so you really need to be spot on so and I think it’s crucial.

Matt: [00:11:46] Yes. And so what would your top three tips be for our listeners on effective maintenance?

Konrad Ritter: [00:11:54] Well, my first one is to understand your assets. Understand what type of strategy you need to apply to maintain them. The second one is have the right people to execute. It’s really important to have the right skills and the right attitude there and make sure that your team is keeping up to date in their knowledge. So we do a lot of this. And third, do your analysis and understand what you need to improve and where you need to invest to improve your plant. So make sure your assets are reliable and cost-effective.

Matt: [00:12:45] Okay. Wise words there for our listeners. Okay, and so finally, what’s your favourite saying or quote on maintenance?

Konrad Ritter: [00:12:57] If you cannot reproduce the failure, you cannot fix it. Sometimes it’s very challenging for us to reproduce failures. It’s special because of the conditions. You may never be able to put the same condition as we have in a real-time operation where you put all this technology together [00:13:20 Unintelligible] deformation, you have pressure, high vibration, you have — several other things can happen; type of chemicals or anything. You don’t know until you search. So it’s not that easy; intermittent problems with electronics. We have specialists in electronics here. It’s not that easy to reproduce. That’s my favourite quote. So if you don’t reproduce it, you don’t know if you’re fixing it.

Matt: [00:13:49] Okay. Excellent. Well, I mean, that wraps us up. I mean, I’d like to thank you very much for being our guest on the show this week Konrad. Thank you for coming on the show.

Konrad Ritter: [00:14:00] Thank you very much for having me. It’s been a pleasure and good luck there. Thank you.

Matt: [00:14:05] Okay. Well to our listeners, thanks again for tuning in. We appreciate having you here. And we look forward to seeing you next time on the Comparesoft Podcast Cheers.

OUTRO: This podcast is presented by Comparesoft. We recommend CMMS, an asset management software. 1500 maintenance experts from GE, Siemens, Transport for London and numerous small and medium Businesses have used Comparesoft to shortlist and compare CMMS, an asset management software. Visit to shortlist the best CMMS software for your needs.