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Aim Directional Services LLC: 150 Years of Extensive Drilling Knowledge
James C. “Jake” Venable has experienced the boom and bust cycle of the oil and gas industry for more than 50 years – working through technological advancements from drilling straight holes to using directional tools and directional drilling, and more currently shale horizontal drilling. Now Venable acts as COO of Aim Directional Services LLC (AIM), and along with his CEO, Mike Jensen, and his staff, he provides customers with a full package of services for their drilling needs.
Based out of Corpus Christi, Texas, the staff at AIM provides its clientele with a combined expertise of over a century in the energy business. This expertise allows the company to provide quality service at a reasonable cost. The company has drilled onshore wells in several southern states, as well as Mexico and Pennsylvania, and offshore in the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Venable reports, “We started this company in February of 2008, and since then we have gone as far away as Pennsylvania and New Mexico for clients. Usually, though, our work is concentrated within Texas and the surrounding states, but we are willing to travel farther if it makes sense.”
Horizontal drilling is one of the firm’s strongest areas of expertise, but most of AIM’s staff worked in the hydrocarbon business long before the perfection of horizontal drilling in the 1980s. Consequently, they understand all manner of directional drilling. They have experience with a bottom hole steerable, rotary and 3-D rotary steerable assemblies, as well as the optimization of well design, torque and drag analysis, and anti-collision reports.
Before founding AIM, Venable worked for Strata Directional Technology, Pathfinder Energy Services and Multi Shot as district and/or operational manager. He also worked for several companies as a directional driller, including his uncle’s pioneering firm SOS in the 1950s, as well as Target Directional, Halliburton and Smith.
Knowing the Drill
Over the past three decades, directional drilling technology has advanced to the point where wells can be drilled horizontally, from remote locations, and around obstructions. By combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, oil and gas exploration is less costly and more productive; therefore, oil and gas reserves that may have been cost prohibitive earlier have now become very profitable.
Horizontal drilling increases the exposed area of the formation, which allows unproductive wells to become operational, or in the case of shale formation allows longer laterals to extend into the rock, thus allowing more formation to undergo fracturing. Since shale is brittle and does not readily release oil and gas, charges are set off within the pipe and water, and sand is forced through the rock allowing hydrocarbon flow. This technological advancement has led to many shale booms throughout the United States.
For example, the Haynesville Shale formation in eastern Texas and western Louisiana created a “gold rush” effect in the local economy. In the Barnett Shale formation in Texas, a large portion of the drillable field is situated just beneath the city of Dallas, and horizontal drilling accessed these reserves. More importantly for AIM, the Eagle Ford Shale, which extends across the State of Texas, has brought the boom to South Texas and has accelerated growth of the company.
Seizing upon opportunities such as these, AIM has been busy providing the burgeoning oil and gas industry with the knowledge essential to drilling, operating and maintaining safe wells. Although the company started during one of the industry’s slumps, it survived and now has exponential growth.
Venable explains, “We offer more than just straight well drilling; we offer directional drilling, consulting, and assistance for customers large and small. We will work with the client during the planning stage to find the best approach and then monitor, compare, and analyze the drilling in progress, and after completion.”
Providing Comprehensive Services
Of course, as any seasoned industry veteran will agree, being able to adapt is the key to success in an industry whose environmental regulations and work site safety programs are constantly in flux. “It’s our mission to provide a safe work environment for everyone involved, while also remaining flexible to the client’s needs,” says Venable. “Things can change between the planning and drilling stages, so you have to be flexible to be successful. While on-the-job, drillers regularly encounter unexpected hurdles beneath the ground and flexibility is especially important to the safety of those involved.”
At present, AIM maintains a solid customer base with many repeat clients, retaining them through the company’s ability to provide a single source for a variety of consistently top-notch services. “We self-perform about 90 percent of our work, and we will only sub out the incredibly specialized items, so we have a lot of control over every project,” says Venable. “When we do sub out, we have a group of very skilled professionals we will work with, who are very important to the success of the project.”
Venable considers employee satisfaction second only to safety, because the staff’s satisfaction reflects in the client roster. “We are growing these days and so are our clients. If we can’t offer the clients the same level of expertise, then we may lose that client’s business. If we can’t keep our employees happy, we can’t keep our clients happy,” says Venable. “New oil and natural-gas reserves continue to be discovered and developing a good rapport with clients is key to accumulating more experience.”
Though the overall economic climate doesn’t seem to be improving much, Venable and the AIM crew expect busy days ahead. “Sure, 2009 was a big drop off from the level of business we did in 2008, but we have good indications from our clients that this will improve,” says Venable.
Despite a sluggish national economy, energy companies remain increasingly active based on demand. As they look for newer, safer and more cost-effective domestic production methods, Aim Directional Services LLC will be there to provide the industry the experience to get the job done.