Part Two: Pursuing Passion
In Episode 5 of the Oil and Gas Elevate Podcast, hosts Sean McCoy and Eric Johnson interviewed Brady Neal, President and CEO of CORROSOURCE, on the company’s innovative WellSiteSentry solution. In this article, OGGN contributing writer Stephen Forrester got a chance to talk with Brady about his career and life. In Part II, Brady discusses how his passion for people and protecting human life led him to creating WellSiteSentry, a fundamental reimagining of wellsite safety, as well as his thoughts on co-founding a commercial insurance agency and piloting a full risk intelligence program.
Brady’s passion for safety and desire to do something truly different led to a deep dive into what such a service might look like and how to execute on full integration. It ended up being a combination of technology, emergency response systems, and professional first responders. Branded “WellSiteSentry,” the idea was that with this offering, you always had a vigilant third party watching over your site, keeping your people and assets safe. Brady and his partner got this idea off the ground while continuing to manage the other aspects of the business and while Brady was still working his full-time job in law enforcement.
Stretched thin, Brady hit his 10-year anniversary on the police force, resigned, and dedicated himself full time to CORROSOURCE and the mission of WellSiteSentry. He and his partner ended up deciding to divest the well servicing division to streamline their services and focus more closely on their truly differentiated offerings. Revenue increased significantly from one year to the next as interest in what they were doing peaked. Then, 2020 happened, and with commodity prices stagnating and the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changing short-term oil consumption and operator drilling and completion patterns, activity slowed to a crawl. There were times when Brady wanted to give up, when things seemed like they were on the brink of failure.
“But what we have is different,” he says, “because it’s not just a piece of equipment we send downhole to collect data. It’s about people. It’s about protecting those people. It’s rewarding to provide a service that has the potential to save someone’s life, to prevent a catastrophic incident.”
Brady’s seen enough instances of the value of what he’s doing to keep him going, even through the challenges and constant ups and downs of running a small business. In one instance, Brady left a wellsite and came across a car wreck on the side of the road. His law enforcement gene kicking in, he pulled over to help, but the driver was unconscious. A second driver pulled over to call 911. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Twelve minutes. The woman was coming around and bleeding profusely from her head. And finally, the ambulance came—but what if it had been too late? In remote areas, the possibility is all too real.
“Let’s say there’s an incident on the wellsite, and this guy or gal is bleeding out,” Brady comments, “well, to know that we have an EMT onsite who’s trained in tourniquets, trained in triage and first aid, trained to save lives—that always affirms for me that we’re going down the right path. We’ll have someone right there, not having to wait for someone to arrive. Imagine if that was a family member. Wouldn’t you want that for them?”
It just makes so much sense that one doesn’t really know what to say in response. Of course you’d want that for a family member. Shouldn’t companies invest in their people in the same way? Why isn’t this solution on every single wellsite in America?
The most impactful story Brady tells was of a consultant working on a KLX Energy Services frac site. When this burly gentleman made his way into the WellSiteSentry command center, Brady thought for sure that he’d be skeptical of what they were doing there. “I thought he’d get mad about having this thing out on his site, ask us what we were doing there, you know, try and run us off,” he laughs, “but then, I started showing him the thermal imaging, the triage unit back in the back, everything we had there. And he was taking it all in.” This man had worked across the world in practically every environment you can imagine, and he admitted that he’d never seen such a forward-thinking approach to first aid and emergency response on the wellsite. He sat down, and a pensive look came across his face. Those in the command center knew he was contemplating telling a story.
“And then he said,” Brady remembers, ‘Boy, I would have given anything to have had this on the site where my friend died.’”
It turned out that the man had been at an extremely remote site working a project when one of his best friends—also working on the site—went into cardiac arrest. Rushing to him, the consultant did compressions and CPR. Due to the location, the quickest help that could come would be an airlift via helicopter. It was already too late, however; he quite literally held his friend in his arms as he died. “I would have given anything,” he says, again, somber, “anything, to have had a service like this on that site.” It’s moments like that where it all just makes sense for Brady.
“If one life is saved because we’re on a site—and of course, we pray we don’t have to do that—but if we save one life, it’s all worth it,” he reflects. “How can you put a value on human life? You can’t. If one of our guys can step in and save someone’s life, all the heartache, all the sweat, blood, and tears we’ve put into this thing…it’s all worth it.”
At WellSiteSentry, people are at the core of everything. Minutes and seconds matter when human life is involved, and on land, the people on the site just aren’t trained in the same way as legitimate medical personnel. Furthermore, they don’t have the time or resources to do full pre-operational checks for local and regional emergency response options. Why force our people to shoulder a significant emotional burden and liability when there’s a solution waiting to be implemented?
The future for Brady is taking all of this and bringing it together with full risk intelligence. He has a vision to take the data from surface and turn it into an algorithm for underwriting and risk mitigation. Starting a commercial insurance agency with a friend, he’s seen impressive ways to use data and data analytics as part of a national pilot program with 13 agencies chosen to implement a new platform. The program informed his desire to build something that extends even further beyond what WellSiteSentry currently offers to fundamentally change how this part of the industry operates. “I get excited when I think about transforming what was once fire suppression and medical response to an ecosystem of risk intelligence feeding back to an underwriter or a stakeholder, an investor. It also has direct ESG implications.”
Think about your car insurance plan, for example, and the way the premium can change based on driving patterns and usage habits. Why couldn’t we theoretically do the same thing for the oil and gas industry? Risk intelligence brings together all that data in real time, so someone always knows how many people are on a site, what they’re doing, what equipment they’re operating, and so on, taking a holistic view of risk based on those changing factors. Then, this could directly impact a risk score—calculated by the algorithm continuously crunching the real-time data—which could cause certain premiums to go up or down based on the level of risk. It’s about being proactive, about understanding what’s going on with your site and your people at all times, and Brady thinks companies should be incentivized to implement such a program, with drilling contractors, operators, and service companies somehow working together to build a new model. “Should, say, a completions company that’s 10 times safer than another one be paying the same premium? Is that right?”
Brady admits it’s a kind of pie-in-the-sky idea at this point, as it requires a paradigm shift in how we think about safety. Still, he hopes we get there in the future, and he hopes he can continue to play a part in the journey. It is, after all, all about people.