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Connection VOLUME 1


Cooper Ross / Insight Visual Media Productions



Bright spot for Cactus in the Woodford Shale

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Letter a letter from the President

Dear employees This is the debut issue of our new company newsletter, The Cactus Connection. We are excited about it and hope you will look forward to receiving your copy every quarter to keep up with all the news it offers.

the top down; we will also include personnel profiles and human interest stories. You should feel free to participate by telling us about yourselves, your coworkers and by providing story ideas.

Cactus Drilling is growing and we needed a new way to communicate with employees, now numbering about 1,400 spread across the region. Word of mouth and bulletins posted in break areas won’t get it done for an expanding company like ours. We needed a better way to reach you, to inform you of what’s going on.

Other content will range from rig activity (pages 4-7 of this issue) to personnel profiles and feature articles. This time the spotlight shines on longtime Cactus employee Dick Lipe and avid sportsman Robert Speck, whose invention may make you a more successful fisherman.

This new company publication will do just that. In it we can inform you of company initiatives, rig activity, personnel profiles and moves. And we will stress our culture of safety. We value all of our employees, so safety is always Priority 1. We also want your input. This publication is not reserved solely for official company business from

In future issues we will feature safety topics, technical advances, equipment upgrades, policy initiatives and more employees — from those in the farthest reaches of our field operations to those based out of our headquarters in Oklahoma City. We thank each of you for all you do to help make Cactus one of the most vibrant companies in our industry. I hope you enjoy our newsletter and value the connection we think it will make between us. Sincerely,

Ron Tyson Ron Tyson President Cactus Drilling Company, LLC


Time to tie down change house for tornado season

Cactus Rig 117 BEFORE F5 tornado


ou don’t typically think about the change house on a rig site as being a potentially life-saving piece of equipment. But it can be. Don’t think so? Just ask crew members from Rig 117 who rode out an F5 tornado in a tied-down change house. After some extremely tense moments, they emerged from their change house unharmed to see that their rig was a mangled heap. Tornado season begins in March, although there are no guarantees that one won’t strike before then. So now is the time for crews to secure their change houses and focus on storm readiness. Here are a few things to keep in mind: n Unless the toolpusher or superintendent wants change houses anchored year round, our policy is March 1 to July 1. n Now is a good time to check out your change houses and equipment to make the appropriate changes.

Cactus Rig 117 AFTER F5 tornado

n Each anchor should stand alone. Do not throw across top of house to the other anchor point. There are four individual anchors. You may add an extra anchor to throw across if you want, but the original four should be stand-alone. n Signs should be placed on the house showing it is a safe room. We will order this and make the appropriate signs available to all rigs. n All items must be bolted to the floor or walls.  Extra pins for window and door locking from the inside.

Justin Lawson Field HS&E For information on the safety topic: or (405) 795-4588


All lined up C

actus has its ducks in a row out in the Cana Field of the Woodford Shale Formation

— almost literally. The gas is plentiful, and the lease agreements are bunched together. So, even though you don’t often see such a sight, it’s little wonder that you can drive a short distance north of Calumet, Oklahoma, and see six Cactus rigs aligned almost in a perfect row. These rigs are taking care of business, too. They move from pad to pad quickly and are even running on bi-fuel, a mixture of diesel and natural gas, which reduces the overall fuel costs for the customer, Cimarex Energy. And there is much more to come for this group of rigs.


(Story continued on Page 6)

in the

Cana Field


Lease roads often have a sign that points to a rig. Seldom does an intersection need as many as this one. And these point to just four of the six rigs Cactus has in this spot of the Woodford Shale.

The Woodford Shale is not a new discovery. Drilling has become feasible over the past several years, however, because of advances in techniques and technology. Consequently, activity in the Cana-Woodford Shale has heated up, and Cactus Drilling is right in the thick of it. Nowhere is this more evident than an area northwest of Oklahoma City. Just up the road from Calumet, Cactus Rigs 112, 131, 142, 144, 147 and 148 are running full steam almost side by side.

move back to the first pad and initiate the next phase of drilling there. “We can walk these things almost endlessly,” he said. “These Cactus Rocket Rigs are impressive. It’s like a kid pulling a wagon. We can move it to the next pad, change and when we finish Well No. 2, then walk back and finish Well No. 1. The moves depend on the hole condition, but they’re very impressive.”

“This is the largest number of rigs I’ve seen lined up like this,” Atchley said.

Well placement is critical, too. With older technology, well pads were closer together. With today’s modern horizontal drilling techniques, the wells are spaced out about 800 feet apart. Atchley said it takes about 70 to 80 days for a rig to finish both wells it is working on. The rigs in this area will become more spaced out as Cactus and Cimarex analyze where to plan and drill future wells.

Cactus is up for the job in large part because of the capabilities of its Rocket Rigs™. They are not only workhorses, but when it comes to skidding they are fast.

The companies are also taking a fresh look at rig operations. Each Cactus rig is running a different mud system in order to compare which is most effective.

Atchley said crews drill these wells in partials. They’ll start on one pad, then walk the rig over to Well No. 2 to repeat the initial phase on that pad. Then they can

Also, Cactus rigs are experiencing success using bi-fuel for their generators. This technique reduces diesel consumption by half, burns cleaner and saves money.

Nathan Atchley, rig manager for 148, said the rigs are working for Cimarex Energy. They are bunched up and drilling multiple wells to develop the play.



This is the largest number of rigs I’ve seen lined up like this. . . . We can walk these things almost endlessly. These Cactus Rocket Rigs are impressive. It’s like a kid pulling a wagon.” NATHAN ATCHLEY 148 RIG MANAGER

“This is the second well we’ve done like this. The savings are really almost off the charts,” Atchley said. “They (Cimarex) are probably seeing somewhere around $250,000 to $300,000 in savings per well. It’s pretty awesome.” The crews are the key to making sure the rigs operate at peak efficiency. “We have an outstanding group of guys,” Atchley said. “This is like a second home. We look out for one another. For us, it’s a matter of how to keep your rig running. Work hard and work fast. You don’t want to be the last one out. The guys take an unreal amount of pride in their work.” The rigs on this site are comparable in construction, so they can collaborate on parts for repairs, too. The momentum in Cana-Woodford should continue. Atchley said most of the rigs in this area are drilling liquids-rich gas and that there are plans to develop an area about five to seven miles northeast. “This is the biggest drilling field in the area,” he said. “We have enough work to do here to keep us busy over a minimum of the next two years. We’ve got years of work to do as long as gas prices are high enough.”

Rig 148 Manager Nathan Atchley


My Time

Robert Speck’s experience leads to new business opportunities


ots of people may think something would work better if it maybe was just a little different in one way or another. Robert Speck is the guy who does something about it. Here’s a specific example: Speck, an avid fisherman, wondered if his minnow bucket might work better if it fit down in one of those ubiquitous 5-gallon plastic buckets that almost seem to grow on trees. Problem is the commercial minnow bucket he had bought at a bait shop was the wrong size. So Speck, also a machinist and a welder throughout his career, fabricated one that was exactly like he wanted it. Then his new homemade minnow bucket rested on the lid and extended down into the bucket of water, plus it even had an aerator clipped to the edge. Worked great, problem solved. In fact, Speck’s solution works so well it created another problem — now he has to figure out how to make and deliver enough minnow buckets to satisfy the demand that has grown for them over the years. Seems like lots of other fishermen have learned about how effective the Speck minnow bucket is, and they want one, too. Speck didn’t stop with his minnow bucket invention. As a welder, he also envisioned a tool bucket for welders. So, suddenly his product line grew. He now makes and sells buckets with tool dividers for welders. “I’ve fished all my life,” Speck said. “I’m a welder and I’m a fisherman, too. So I just thought, ‘This is something I’d like to have.’ They didn’t do anything at first. But now it’s picking up.” The Speck minnow bucket can be found at bait shops around Oklahoma. He is working on partnerships with more distributors. And you can find his product line on his website at And when Speck is not working for Cactus or fabricating his new products, there’s a good chance he’s rebuilding


Robert Speck developed skills throughout his career that, combined with hobbies, have turned some of his days off into business opportunities.

the engine on his 1992 Camaro dragster. “It’s a lot of fun. Just now about to do some work on it before spring, about a $2,000 freshen up,” he said. Speck pulls his Camaro around on a 44-foot trailer and races mainly in Texas, most frequently down around the Dallas area. But the minnow bucket and welder’s bucket projects are not the most precious to him. Not even his drag car. That would be his three daughters and 10 grandchildren, all within striking distance of Elk City. “The Lord has blessed me with a lot of different things. My children and my grandchildren are the most precious to me,” he said.

Personnel Spotlight

With Dick Lipe, you can expect dependability and durability


ick Lipe has become a fixture around Cactus Drilling. He has been with the company long enough that it seems like he has always been here and always will be. “I don’t even remember exactly how long I’ve been here,” he said recently. “I guess it’s been around nine or 10 years. Back then I just went into the office and asked if they needed a hand. They did. I worked one day as a rig hand and went to pushing tools.” There is a good reason Lipe was able to make that kind of leap in just a day: he came to Cactus with loads of experience. Now at age 72, he is still going strong. But before he started working with Cactus he had already accumulated more than a decade in the oil and gas business. He worked for Rowan Drilling for 12 years, mainly in Pecos, Texas. The company transferred him to the Elk City, Okla., area for a couple of years. Then business bottomed out in the bust years, so he moved and worked for ConAgra Foods in North Louisiana. Lipe has two sons who had hooked on with Cactus Drilling. They told him that things in the industry were much improved, that this new company they had joined was on the upswing and he should look into getting back into the oilfield. “I had the experience. The drilling superintendent at the time said they needed a hand. I told him I’d do it. I wound up working motors for one day. Been pushing for Cactus ever since.”

Dick Lipe

Lipe says working on Rig 130 suits him just fine. It’s a big, reliable 1,500-horspower rig, but the best part of being on 130 is the rig crew he works with. “We have some really good hands. If I left this rig, I’d have to take my hands with me, too,” he said. “Most of them have been with this rig for four or five years. There isn’t much turnover. It helps that everyone has worked together so much.” That cohesiveness not only affects productivity, it helps with safety. As a result, Rig 130 is on track to mark six years with no incidents in February — a record for Cactus and Newfield Exploration, the company Rig 130 works for.

You might say that the rest is history, except that it is not history yet — Lipe is still going strong.

“I like it out here a lot,” Lipe said, alluding to his return to the oilfield with Cactus after a decade-long absence. “Oh yeah, I enjoy the good, fresh air.”

He started with Cactus on Rig 108 out in the Texas panhandle. When it moved to the Lafayette, La., area, he transferred over to Rig 130. At first Rig 130 was in Cheyenne, Okla., but after about a year it moved to the McAlester-Colgate area where it has worked since.

He also enjoys his family a ­ nd fishing. His wife is a frequent companion on fishing trips, and they enjoy getting together with their six children (“they aren’t kids any more,” Lipe said), numerous grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.


Brand new

HQ Spacious Cactus headquarters increases efficiency


ant to get a good picture of just how far Cactus Drilling has come since the early days? Well, first envision a double-wide trailer; now take a look at the company’s new 13,800-squarefoot state-of-the-art corporate headquarters building. That’s a pretty good start. But that’s all it is — just a start. There is also a major upgrade in warehouse and fabrication facilities and space for rig-up operations. Cactus’ new headquarters still has something akin to that new-car smell. Construction began in December 2010, and move-in day was November 2011. It couldn’t have come soon enough. Even though the home office had transitioned from the old double-wide into a larger office building, it was insufficient in size and sat on a rented lot. Plus, the fabrication, construction and storage yards on rented lots were too small. Vice President of Operations Josh Simons describes it this way: “We were busting at the seams for office space. The fabrication shop was too small and essentially worn out. Our warehouse space was limited. We were


working from several yards across the metro area and even leased additional warehouse space for equipment storage. We needed to do something and concluded that merging all our yard operations into a single facility would allow us to reduce operating costs and increase both quality and efficiency.” So when you drive along SW 15th Street and see the modern building with the Cactus sign and flag out front, that is just the beginning. There are acres and acres of warehouse, fabrication and rig construction space behind it. Johnny Barnett, Cactus’ refurbish and fabrication manager says the move has been hectic, but everyone appreciates the new facilities. “My gosh, it’s hard to imagine how we did it in the old yard. We have so much more space now,” he said. “We went from nine to 24 acres of yard space. We’re still moving in, but I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have a smile on his face over here.”

About the new headquarters Cactus Drilling’s success and growth over the years meant that we outgrew our old corporate headquarters. We also needed to consolidate our construction and service facilities. After much planning, 2011 was a big year for our company — when we built and moved into our new home. Here is a rundown of the project: n JANUARY 2009 — Selected The Benham Companies for architectural, design and engineering services. n OCTOBER 2010 — Selected Crossland Construction to build the new facility. n DECEMBER 2010 — Broke ground on construction. n NOVEMBER 2011 — Moved into new facility. The new office is a modern 13,800-square-foot building. The new shop has 32,500 square feet of space. We also developed 24 acres for the yard. The site has an additional 40 acres to the south for future expansion. n FABRICATION SHOP has 10,000 square feet of space and two 20-ton bridge cranes. n MACHINE SHOP has 2,250 square feet of space and two bays. It also has one 15-ton bridge crane. n INSTRUMENTATION LAB has 400 square feet of space. n CONDITIONED PARTS WAREHOUSE has 2,500 square feet of space. n NON-CONDITIONED PARTS WAREHOUSE has 8,500 square feet of space. n MACHINE SHOP has 6,300 square feet of space and a 5-ton bridge crane. n WASH BAY has 1,250 square feet of space.


Cactus Drilling Company, L.L.C. 8300 SW 15th Oklahoma City, OK 73137-0848


provided by Cooper Ross, Insight Visual Media Productions

Cactus Connection Vol. 1  
Cactus Connection Vol. 1  

Cactus Connection - 1st Quarter 2012