November 6, 2019 Frac to the Future: How One Oil & Gas Company Used IT Expertise and Data to Put Safety First

You know the stats: Flying in an airplane is much safer than driving a car. We take for granted that air traffic controllers coordinate and ensure the safety of thousands of flights daily. Without them, we’d see countless tragedies.

New activities in other industries have similar coordination needs—such as hydraulic fracking in the oil and gas industry. Increased activity by multiple producers in relatively small land areas has huge risks. Until recently the industry had no interface to coordinate among adjacent producers and they had few options to communicate when activities were scheduled.

Many companies operate wells in close proximity. Hazardous events such as blowouts and other damage can result when activities overlap. What’s more, techniques such as horizontal drilling have made it possible to drill outward more than a mile from a surface location, increasing the risk to adjacent wells. Fracking can cause a high-pressure surge of gas or water through subsurfaces and nearby wells.

Bottom line: Just like with flight, there’s a need to coordinate or risk unfortunate outcomes.

On-Demand Digital Talent Fills the Gap

It was a troubling situation, one that one savvy energy company sought to solve using crowdsourced IT expertise. With the help of Topcoder, the company tapped high-performing freelance talent with IT expertise to design and build a web application that tells all producers in an area when a team is scheduling and performing hydraulic fracking.

The technology openly shares plans so that producers can coordinate and schedule fracking sessions safely. With knowledge of who’s doing what, and when, the app allows companies to notify one another when they are about to perform activities along an area that belongs to a different producer.

An Open Innovation Adopted by Many

The scheduling transparency technology is now being used by more than 30 energy companies, including PDS Energy who used it to build its Frac Interface Exchange.

In addition to aggregating schedules for activity coordination in a region, PDS Energy’s app allows producers to share risk assessments that mitigate safety risks for participating producers. The app is web-based and easy to access, providing a low barrier to participation among users.

To learn more about crowdsourced technology that is advancing industries, visit

VP, Marketing

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