Texas firm helps energy giants track equipment

  • Article by: CHERYL HALL , Dallas Morning News
  • Updated: August 15, 2014 - 11:47 PM

Geoforce got its big break helping BP with cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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These are two different models of Geoforce tracking devices that track equipment for energy companies using satellite tracking and other advanced technology.

Photo: David Woo Dallas Morning News,

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Keeping track of billions of dollars of equipment that’s constantly on the move is one of the oil and gas industry’s toughest challenges.

Time is always money. But it’s a fortune when it’s downtime in the oil field or offshore.

“Frac tanks, generators and pumps, trucks, vessels and cargo are constantly being relocated on drilling rigs, platforms, shore bases, marine vessels and in oil fields,” said James MacLean, CEO and founder of Geoforce Inc. of Coppell, Texas. “Knowing where anything is at any given moment can be a logistical nightmare.”

Geoforce’s satellite-tracking network — touted as the world’s largest specifically designed for the energy business — helps BP PLC in the Gulf of Mexico, Pioneer Natural Resources Co. in the West Texas Permian Basin, National Oilwell Varco throughout North America and Schlumberger Ltd. throughout the world.

The company got its big break in April 2010, helping BP with the cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP had been using Geoforce to track its cargo-carrying equipment and needed to prove that it had deployed oil skimmers and beachcombers from Louisiana to Florida.

“The White House was understandably saying, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing. We’re going to bring in track-and-trace experts from the military and Wal-Mart to track your equipment,’ ” MacLean recalled. “And BP said, ‘No, we’ve got a partner company that can do this.’ And that was Geoforce.”

The White House probably didn’t realize that Geoforce was an eight-person company at the time.

“It was all hands on deck,” MacLean said. “We had guys riding in boats with the Coast Guard to find the equipment. We put 1,120 of our tracking devices on it. BP and the Coast Guard used our Web-based software at the Coast Guard’s command center in Mobile to monitor the location of all of the equipment. It was a big, big success.”

Today Geoforce has 65 employees, up from 40 at the year’s start. MacLean expects revenue to reach nearly $20 million, twice that of 2013.

Irving, Texas-based Pioneer uses Geoforce to track trucks hauling water to and from its rigs in the Permian Basin.

“In a field that stretches 150 miles north to south and 75 miles east to west, knowing where trucks are is extremely important,” said Dennis Lithgow, Pioneer’s field services vice president. “Geoforce has developed a user-friendly system at an affordable cost.”

Lithgow said Geoforce is willing to upgrade its software to meet Pioneer’s needs. “It’s refreshing to work with a company that wants to make their system grow with the industry they serve.”

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