Tracking the Lesser-Known Frac’ers

by Matthew Johnson

Frac’ing has not been dominated by the big names you might expect. The costly technique was driven to prominence by independent producers that had to find a way to do business profitably in the United States. This is evident when you look at data on the active pressure pumpers and well operators in the United States.

Don’t Overlook Smaller Pressure Pumpers

A typical hydraulic fracturing pumper unit includes a large engine, pump, and control panel that are mounted on a truck or trailer. The pumper is part of a frac spread typically run by a well operator that includes storage tanks and additive mixers. Major well operators like Chevron and XTO/ExxonMobil hire a number of pumpers, but they tend rely heavily on the big names: Halliburton, Baker Hughes (soon to shift to the new entity BJ Services), Schlumberger to name a few. This chart below shows just how active Halliburton is:

Independent operators do not hire as many pumpers, but they tend to be more diverse in their hiring. Anadarko, for example, also utilizes the pumping services of Trican, Calfrac, FTSI, Universal, and Nabors. Pioneer Resources is a bit of an outlier in the operating world, because they’re vertically integrated.

A frac’er to watch: Keane

One smaller pumper that is worth keeping an eye on is Keane Group Inc. The company is based in Houston and run by alumni of some of the major service companies. It is currently in the midst of an initial public offering that could be worth as much as $287.5 million, and it will lead to the company being listed as “FRAC” on the New York Stock Exchange. Keane is owned by a New York-based, private-equity firm called Cerberus Capital Management, and that has allowed Keane to stay well financed during the current downturn.

Keane Group reported in a recent filing that it has 944,250 horsepower behind 23 frac’ing spreads and wireline trucks operating primarily in the Permian, Marcellus, and Williston Basins. Other reports say that 13 of those frac’ing spreads were deployed as of November 30, 2016. Data collected by Primary Vision shows a maximum of seven Keane-branded spreads active at any one time during the past 12 months.

Some of the discrepancy is likely due to the fact that Keane doubled in size in 2016 through the purchase of the U.S. operations of the Canadian service company Trican. Keane seems to be counting some of its spreads while they were still branded as Trican, and some downtime is inevitable during a merger. Looking forward, Keane says it will use proceeds from the IPO to repay debt and create working capital, and it is possible the company is positioning itself to buy additional equipment as the market turns upward. Does it make sense for Keane Group to step in and purchase Weatherford’s pressure pumping division?

This Data And More From Primary Vision

If you want to be successful in the frac’ing business, it helps to know what the pumpers are doing. Primary Vision’s new National Frac Spread Count Report can provide both top-line data on the industry and detailed data on specific companies and markets. We have collected data from a range of public and private sources and then augmented that data with our own analysis to provide a clear picture of the hydraulic fracturing happening in the United States and Alberta, Canada. To learn more, visit or contact us at



The data presented above has a margin of error of 5-8% as a result of E&P and/or service company errors or incorrect data filings. Neither the information, nor any opinion contained in this site constitutes a solicitation or offer by Primary Vision or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities, futures, options or other financial instruments or provide any investment advice or service.

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