New Pathways to Capital Efficiency and Emissions Reduction: An Interview with Sean Hervo, First Step Analytics

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

With a renewed emphasis on energy security and sustainable, profitable operations, the industry is seeing a surge of powerful new solutions at every stage of energy development. Welcome to an interview with Sean Hervo, First Step Analytics , who discusses the development of a powerful new software that incorporates new machine learning techniques.

What is your name and your background?

Sean Hervo
Sean Hervo
Hi, my name is Sean Hervo, and I’m a professional engineer with more than 11 years of progressive experience in the energy industry.  Before my recent leap into entrepreneurship, co-founding First Step Analytics, I spent most of my professional career working at Shell in multiple technical and commercial roles across the Americas.

How did you get interested in analytics?

I became interested in analytics by using it firsthand as a Completions Engineer and seeing the positive impact on safety and value throughout the planning and delivery of high-risk and large capital projects.Despite the name of our company, what I’ve found I’m passionate about is solving problems through simulation.The energy industry is similar to aerospace and automotive: the cost of prototyping, piloting and, most importantly, failure is exceptionally high.With precise digital twins, one can test and de-risk new ideas and designs at a fraction of the time and cost.

What is “First Step Analytics”?  How did it get started?

Brandon Eidson
Brandon Eidson
First Step Analytics is a software company focused on helping our customers discover new pathways to capital efficiency and emissions reduction.  For our Shale Oil & Gas customers, we aim to do this through our PrePad™ software.

My co-founder, Brandon Eidson, and I fell into this business because of a unique, timely and promising opportunity.  The opportunity for our first software solution was discovered while we both worked at Shell.  Based on our experience building, validating and using the Shell minimum viable product (MVP) and seeing our extremely complementary skillsets, Brandon and I were persuaded we could build a software as a service business with an enhanced version of the MVP.  As a result, we de-risked our business as much as we thought necessary and gained the support of our families (and Shell) before leaving our full-time jobs to make PrePad™.

What were some of the “pain points” that you wanted to address?  Where did you see them?

We saw a lot of solid software in existence or in development for the unconventionals business that helped analyze the subsurface or helped with real-time operations.  However, we noticed drilling and completions CAPEX, cycle-time, emissions, etc., analysis was relegated to multiple in-house, siloed spreadsheets.  While separate economic optimizer tools have dumbed-down inputs like “completions cost per stage”, this imprecise and siloed approach takes significant time and leaves many design and strategy options unanalyzed.

PrePad™ drastically reduces the time and resources it takes to work through multi-disciplinary and complicated drilling and completions optimization problems, helping shale operators quickly understand the trade-offs between production, time, cost, emissions and risk.  Unlike black-box machine learning models, our software can analyze previously unthinkable and untried strategies and designs and provide 100% transparency into how the results were determined.

Please describe positive use cases for PrePad™

PrePadTM improves organizational efficiency and simplifies working methods by utilizing software to replicate in only minutes what would typically take multiple employees several weeks or months.  As a result, PrePadTM determines the optimal trade-off between production, cost and cycle time by generating countless iterations, optimizing around any number of variables in only minutes.

What are your plans for the future?

We will continue perfecting the software shale operators would have if their best engineers were also computer scientists, aspiring to make the following question universal, “Have you run that through PrePadTM?”.In the meantime, our software is sufficiently mature to be used by Brandon and me to add value to shale operators and service providers today.We are looking for forward-thinking partners who want a sure path to making better decisions faster.

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