For fifty years, Brammer Engineering, Inc. has been a pioneer in the oil and gas service industry, offering comprehensive contract operating services as well as a full range of standalone services. Construction in Focus spoke with Keith Evans, President of Brammer Engineering, to learn more about how this company is leading the industry.
Founded in 1968 by Bob Brammer, Brammer Engineering has been fulfilling the changing needs of the oil and gas industry for 50 years. When he first launched the company, Brammer was a pioneer in contract operating. “At that time, independent geologists generated prospects for oil and gas. They were the experts who knew where to find the oil and gas, but they didn’t have the operational staff to drill and operate wells,” explains Keith Evans, President of Brammer Engineering. “Bob founded Brammer Engineering to fill that need in the market, so that geologists would have a vehicle to turn their knowledge into commercial ventures. Outsourcing is common today, but in 1968 it wasn’t nearly as common; Bob was ahead of his time.”
In its first twenty years, Brammer primarily served the region surrounding its office in Shreveport, Louisiana. The mid 1980s marked a shift in the oil and gas industry, prompting Brammer to reevaluate its client base; the firm began to focus on working with companies across the country. Today, Brammer primarily serves E&P companies located outside of the Ark-La-Tex, and the majority of its clients are based in Houston, Texas, which Evans calls the “energy capital of the country.”
From its headquarters in Louisiana, Brammer has developed a nationwide reach. “Our backyard is the Ark-La-Tex,” says Evans, referring to the three-state region of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Brammer operates along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas, as well as in the shallow state waters off the coast.
Currently, Brammer also operates in the Permian Basin in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico and the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas. The firm has previously operated in Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian region. “We aren’t actively working in those areas, but business ebbs and flows, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we worked there again soon,” Evans says.
Brammer Engineering remains focused on fully integrated contract operating as its primary service. The firm also offers a full range of standalone services including drilling, completion, facilities design and construction, HSE and regulatory, accounting, wellsite supervision and other services to meet the needs of clients across the oil and gas industry. “We have engineering personnel, accountants, clerks – we have most of the skill sets that a fully integrated exploration and production company would have in their business. For various reasons, many companies choose not to house all of those skill sets in their organization or they have more projects than their personnel can manage so we are an outsourcing alternative for them. We provide human capital to the upstream domestic oil and gas business,” says Evans.
Brammer’s full suite of services sets it apart from the competition. “There are a plethora of companies that do consulting work and provide manpower on a project basis, but there are not that many that provide a fully integrated contract operating service to operate an oil and gas property,” Evans says. “We have the technical expertise, the engineering skills, the clerical and back office personnel, the regulatory expertise, and the field labor. We bring together all of those skills to provide a comprehensive contract operating service.”
Committed to client satisfaction
In every service it offers, Brammer strives to provide the best customer service in the industry. Evans is proud of the company’s many long-standing client relationships. “We work on short-term contracts, and sometimes people ask why we don’t require longer contracts. What ensures long-term relationships is our continuous high performance. We know that we have to do our job well every day in order to continue to earn our clients’ trust. We have to earn the privilege of continuing to do business with them – and we do earn it,” Evans says.
Brammer’s commitment to excellence is at the heart of its four goals: to maximize production, minimize cost, serve clients well, and work safely and protect the environment.
Protecting people and the environment
Safety and environmental protection are a top priority in all of Brammer’s operations. “No matter how successful we are, if that success comes at the cost of people getting hurt or damaging the environment, then we’re really not successful. That’s why we integrate safety and protecting the environment into everything we do,” says Evans.
Brammer’s track record speaks for itself: the firm has achieved over one million man hours without an OSHA recordable incident several times, and hasn’t had a lost time incident in more than three years. The firm is proud to report that neither it nor any of its clients have been cited for material environmental violations in years.
“The environment is something that we take very seriously as well,” Evans says. “We’ve got to preserve our environment. The federal government and the state and local governing agencies expect that but more importantly, we as a company expect that as well. We have always done our best to conduct our operations everywhere safely while promoting a clean and unaltered environment.” Specifically, the company constantly monitors its operations and ensures that it has the proper permits, clearances and procedures in place to comply with environmental regulations.
“The entire oil and gas industry has upped its game in regard to safety and the environment, and we try to be a leader in that area,” Evans says. Brammer provides its expertise to companies across the industry. Recognizing that compliance with health, safety and environmental (HSE) regulations can be burdensome for many companies, Brammer has developed a complete line of HSE support services and training. The firm’s team of HSE experts provides assessments and audits, permitting, waste remediation, site security and more.
Brammer also offers valuable training, equipping workers throughout the industry with the knowledge and skills to work safely. “There are a multitude of topics that OSHA mandates that oil and gas workers must be trained in. We have those skill sets in our company, and we train a lot of oil field workers in various topics such as HAZMAT, HAZWOPER, confined spaces, etc. as well as SafeLand training which is a widely accepted introductory and general primer course for the industry. These are things that workers have to be trained in and familiar with in order to work safely in the oil field,” Evans says.
Brammer’s HSE services business has been a success, and Evans is confident that it will continue to grow. “There are more people who need to be trained than there are qualified instructors to train them, so we have been growing that business, and many of our customers are very interested in it,” he says.
Overcoming industry challenges
Throughout its 50 years of operation, Brammer has successfully navigated challenges facing the oil and gas industry. “The up-and-down nature of our commodity prices is always a challenge to our business. The consumer wants that price as low as possible, and the producer wants it as high as possible,” Evans explains. “Trying to maintain our high level of service regardless of commodity price is always a challenge. It’s a staffing challenge, it’s a training challenge, and it’s an activity challenge.”
The oil and gas industry also faces a shortage of experienced workers as a result of the oil bust that occurred in the 1980s. Thousands of workers left the industry, and few young workers entered it. “The industry lost most of a generation of workers, from blue collar all the way up to executives. We’ve never fully recovered from that, and so our industry as a whole is understaffed,” says Evans. Brammer’s full suite of services help companies to overcome this challenge by supplying the human capital and expertise they lack.
Poised for growth
Brammer Engineering is poised for growth as the oil and gas industry rebounds from the 2015-2016 downturn, and has identified several key strategies to take advantage of this opportunity.
The firm is focused on promoting its niche services, including well drilling and engineering. This standalone service is designed for clients that are prepared to operate wells but lack the capacity to engineer and drill them. Brammer is also growing in its health, safety and environmental services business.
Evans recognizes that Brammer’s growth is dependent on its ability to remain cost-competitive. “We’ve got to be able to provide quality service for competitive prices, and still make a profit,” he says. Currently, Brammer is focused on leveraging technology to become more efficient, as well as on diversification and scalability. “We need to grow in other places and be able to replicate services all over the country just as efficiently as we can perform them here.”
Evans adds, “We can’t end this article without saying a wholehearted ‘thank you’ to all of our clients, our industry friends and partners, and everyone who has helped us along the way. As we approach our 50th birthday, we’re very appreciative of the help we’ve been given, and we hope we’ve given back as much as we’ve received.”