The beasts of burden in the US shale sector are the pressure pumping units that takes the theory of hydraulic fracturing and put it into practice. Yet, for much of the past 2 decades, these high-horsepower machines have seen relatively scant technological advancement.
Then the industry downturn happened. Hundreds of older units were scuttled. Profit margins for what was left were squeezed as tight as ever. Budgets to invest in new, unproven technologies were scarce.
Modernizers from various corners of the industry rose to challenge the idea that pressure pumping technology is stagnate, or simply “dumb iron.” For the past couple of years, this crusade has been led by the largest pressure pumping firms in the US by horsepower, Halliburton and Schlumberger. Both have introduced fracturing fleets that, by automating key manual tasks, are accelerating completion times and improving machine reliability.