Saulsbury's 54th midstream project shows success in shale

By Luke Geiver | November 05, 2018

As the evolution of the North American shale landscape has evolved, Odessa, Texas-based Saulsbury has found its place. The engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction company was recently awarded its 54th contract for a midstream-related project. The 54th project will be a cryogenic processing facility in North Dakota’s Williston Basin. Along with other completed projects in the Bakken, Saulsbury has also built, planned and brought online several others in the Permian, SCOOP/STACK, Eagle Ford and Niobrara.

Since 2006 when the company created a turn-key EPC approach to midstream projects, John Shefchik, vice president and general manager, said the company does most of the work on the projects it is awarded.

According to Shefchik, the industry has evolved and moved away from having a large volume of professional specialists. “Most of our clients are looking for contractors to provide a lot of oversight, including engineers and project managers to track progress,” he said. Saulsbury provides nearly every service required of a major midstream project buildout, Shefchik said. In some cases, the company will help potential clients pitch investors on the financials and merits of potential future builds.

Because Saulsbury now sees a shift it the type of client it is catering too, the team has put an emphasis on staying within a schedule and completing projects months before other competitors that use outside help could. “Many of our clients are private equity and have investors. They can’t have a lot of overhead or run over dates,” he said. “Our industry is really based off of time. Our average project is 10 to 16 months.”

To help speed up the build time for major EPC midstream projects, Saulsbury does all of its own onsite hiring of service positions to its team. When possible, modular equipment is built offsite and shipped to the project location, and, in some cases, because Saulsbury has done so many midstream projects, the team can send engineering drawings direct to the fabrication floor with confidence.

The biggest challenge the Saulsbury team faces in the Permian and the Bakken is linked to takeaway constraints for oil and gas. In the Permian specifically, pipeline capacity is a challenge. Shefchik said the team is positive on the current administration although steel tariffs are impacting project numbers. Workforce constraints also impact the pay the EPC has to provide to workers across all basins. The export of NGLs and natural gas products has the team excited for the future as places like the Permian and Bakken are overwhelmed with gas that could be use elsewhere.

Rarely does a client use Saulsbury for only one job. Shefchik said in most cases, clients are coming back to Saulsbury from two to seven times. “Our biggest thing is our integrity and to fulfill the promise we are making to our clients,” he said. “They believe in our safety record and our reputation. They also believe in our scheduling abilities.”

Stephanie Gentry, director of marketing and communications, said the Odessa-based team has been able to complete 54 midstream projects because the team is able to operate efficiently and work with clients to answer any questions on designs or updates along the entire timeline. “The business,” she said, “is incredibly efficient.”