By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
PRAGUE, Okla. — Theft was rampant at an oil field equipment yard in Harlingen, Texas, just miles from the Mexican border. Thieves cut gates with torches and brought their own trailers to haul out equipment.
“The yard was losing an average of $10,000 a month in theft,” said Mike Haines, founder and CEO of Prague-based Well Checked Systems International.
Desperate to stop the thievery, the Harlingen equipment yard operator installed high-tech monitoring equipment developed by Oklahoma’s Well Checked. Its innovative technology enables oil companies to remotely monitor well sites, batteries and equipment yards.
“We’ve been out there now for 23 months,” Haines said of the Harlingen client. “We caught the thieves within two months of being out there, and to date, they have lost zero dollars on that yard.”
In a warehouse at the back of Well Checked’s Prague headquarters, Haines recently showcased a high-tech camera, tower and motion detection system the company created that becomes the eyes for energy companies.
Well Checked owns three patents on solutions that ensure safe, secure and productive remote well or yard locations for operators. The secret to the company’s success is its ability to stream video and data from locations with virtually no cellphone coverage or even electrical power.
“We often say we didn’t solve a video problem, we solved a bandwidth problem,” Haines said. “That’s where our patents come in. That’s how we designed the entire system to live on a remote well site.”
Haines developed technology that ties into remote terminal units and data collection equipment maintained by well operators. The company uses solar power and even satellite technology to upload data to distant servers or a client’s own monitoring facility.
Haines calls it an “event-based” solution because data is not streamed until the monitoring equipment picks up movement or abnormal readings from well site gauges. Oil company personnel can see pressure numbers on the screen as they view the well site remotely.
“Users can be called, texted or emailed to let them know there is a problem on-site,” Haines said. “That will be coupled with the video or data that needs to be looked at immediately.”
Mike Haines was a co-founder in 1999 of Tulsa-based Sequoyah Technologies, a developer of high-end and scalable internet applications. He then worked in the oil industry after selling Sequoyah Technologies.
“I was working with a group of pumpers, and the phrase that we kept saying over and over again is ‘I wish we had known sooner,’” Haines said. “We got alerts on things happening on well sites, but honestly, those alerts were usually that a disaster had occurred, not that a disaster could occur.”
So Haines founded Well Checked in 2012. As Well Checked weathered an oil industry downturn, Haines developed and patented video HMI technology, as well another innovation called “Alarm Brokers.” That device allows producers to not only receive alerts from a well site, but also to remotely change conditions on the site via the device.
In June 2014, Well Checked received a $1.4 million equity investment led by i2E Inc., the not-for-profit Oklahoma business accelerator.
Well Checked’s technology has been deployed by oil field companies across the country. Haines cites multiple successes of Well Checked technology making sites safer for individual producers and saving them thousands of dollars.
For example, a contractor accidentally damaged poles feeding power to a well site, shutting off electricity, then drove off without alerting anyone. Well Checked equipment was able to identify the contractor’s truck number and company, allowing the producer to recoup the loss.
In another location, a company’s own personnel were overflowing tanks by using incorrect settings, a problem that Well Checked caught.
And then there was the remote site in the California desert where the Well Checked camera saw a saltwater mist around the pump.
“The pumper was alerted and he drove out,” Haines said. “He wasn’t scheduled to be there for at least 24 hours. But he was able to replace a part for $20, and they estimated cleanup alone on that rupture was going to cost more than $300,000.”
Disaster averted, thanks to Well Checked Systems International.
Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).