Energy execs start new natural gas services firm

Paul J. Gough
Pittsburgh Business Times

When Matt Curry and Chris Combs were looking to found a company in the industry they know best — shale — it didn't take long for them to realize there was an unmet need in the Marcellus and Utica.

That's pressure pumping and pumpdown services, which are used in to keep open a wellbore during the hydraulic fracturing process. So the two veteran natural gas executives have founded a startup, Praetorian Energy Solutions, to provide pumping and pumpdown services.

Curry is a chemical engineer and native of southwestern Pennsylvania who has been involved in the shale industry since he graduated Penn State in the 1990s. Combs, a completions engineer and Marine Corps veteran, have been working since the spring to develop the company.

They have bought three trucks, two of which they have already taken delivery on (with a third online soon) and hired a veteran operating team that is already at work on frack jobs in the Eagle Ford of Texas. Why the Eagle Ford? Because it's near where the trucks were made and it allows the operations team to start slow and build up to what Curry calls heavier lifting. Curry said Monday that its customer has been very happy with its work.

Curry, who worked for Range Resources (NYSE: RRC) in natural gas liquids marketing as well as other companies, said that being able to deliver on the company's promises are very important. It's that extra touch, and the focus on value and efficiency, that will be the hallmark of Praetorian.

"We set ourselves up for success as much as possible, the absolute key being the right people," Curry said. "Without those solid individuals who really care about their quality of work, it wouldn’t matter how new or uniquely cool our pumps were."

Praetorian Energy Solutions aims to be a leader in the space, adjusting to the pumping and pumpdown needs of the Marcellus and Utica shale operators. It's also got patents pending on its own pumping technology that Curry said will offer even more efficiencies. The new style pumps will be introduced in 2019. That's when Curry expects things to ramp up Praetorian's Appalachia business.

"It will be our people and our unparalleled service and pumps that will end up saving the producers money in the long run, for it is the efficiencies that they introduce to their programs that will translate into long-term cost-savings," Curry said.

The company has been talking to operators in the Appalachian basin and has opened an office at Southpointe. It recently hired Chris Mizeski, a former manager with Baker Hughes and Evolution Well Services, as director of operations.