Making It: Improving the Pipe Supply Chain

By THE BAKKEN MAGAZINE STAFF | July 31, 2013

When Savage’s rail pipe transloading facility opens in Trenton, N.D., it will be the first of its kind in the Bakken. The supply chain solutions company acquired Fort Worth Pipe―a Texas-based pipe supplier and service provider started by a brother-based team nearly 30 years ago―earlier this year because the piping outfit fit into Savage’s bundle-focused business model. The new Savage facility will now provide pipe storage, inventory supply and a myriad of other services. “We know that when you bundle a number of capabilities together it makes you distinctive from your competition,” says Erik Skoy, vice president of oil and gas business for the company. “Our customers can get more value from Savage because they can call one person, or have products moved by multiple means.”

The company isn’t new to North Dakota. Savage has been moving coal from the state the past 15 years, and has been investing and growing its presence in the Williston Basin’s oil play the past four years. “We have put in a lot of the company’s resources, time and people to grow the business because we think we have a lot of capabilities that we can share with exploration and production companies,” Skoy says.

Those capabilities are highlighted by the effort Savage has invested in developing a sophisticated logistics system to move bulk material in and out of the wellhead during drilling and completion projects. Using the system developed in part by Fort Worth Pipe, Savage will provide pipe transloading off the train, storage, inventory management, pipe trucking to the wellhead and pipe unloading and set-up so that as Skoy says, “folks at the well site don’t have to worry about anything other than putting the pipe down the hole with their casing crew.”

The Trenton facility will also offer a Web-based portal allowing all clients to view inventory supplies, track shipment locations and monitor invoices for products received or pending. The Savage team will also include a team that will travel to the well site and remove pipe thread protectors, clean pipe threads or perform inspections to ensure no defects are present. The clean and drift process, will allow all pipes to receive the mandril pipe checking process,  which Skoy says resembles pulling a dinner plate the size of the inside diameter of the pipe through the pipe to ensure imperfections aren’t present.

A certified American Petroleum Institute pipe threader will also work at the facility to perform other services and reduce the need for additional trips by clients to pipe-threading locations.

Running and maintaining the one-stop-shop pipe supply and services facility won’t come without challenges, Skoy says. Inventory management is a major challenge, along with moving supply safely while documenting all services performed. The facility will potentially look to add additional staff and the company has already secured adjacent acreage for future growth (and pipe storage). The location is already on a rail line. “At a high level,” Skoy says, “we are excited to be using our full capabilities to help lean out the supply chains of exploration and production companies to minimize the drilling and completion costs at the wellhead.”