World Oil Innovative Thinker – Rodney Uchytil

World Oil

Raised in a small town in central Alberta, Rodney Uchytil was exposed to life in the oil field at an early age. His father, a Suncor employee, worked in the Canadian oil field as a production and construction field hand. “I remember driving around with him to check the wells as a young kid,” Uchytil recalled. “My dad always spoke very highly of the industry.”

Uchytil was later accepted at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), where he completed the Petroleum Engineering Technology program. With that, Uchytil set out to employ his know-how in the field. He joined Chevron Canada as a wellsite supervisor, where he spent several years overseeing daily operations and executing drilling programs in the Arctic. “That period is probably what helped me the most,” Uchytil said. “That real, hands-on experience really helped me grow and set the stage for the rest of my career.”

During his seven years at Chevron, Uchytil transitioned from the field to the office. A growing family compelled him to learn another side of the business. As a total quality management engineer, he worked behind the scenes, studying various drilling metrics and ensuring that quality standards were met.

When Schlumberger offered him an integrated project management (IPM) position in Venezuela, Uchytil jumped at the opportunity. “My wife is a native Venezuelan, so the move made sense for us at the time,” he explained. “We sold everything we had. I figured, if I didn’t take a risk, I wouldn’t get the opportunities.”

With just two suitcases in tow, the Uchytil family relocated to eastern Venezuela. There, Uchytil helped manage several key projects, including the Petrozuata project— a major program conceived to exploit resources found in the country’s Orinoco Belt, which is considered home to some of the world’s largest petroleum deposits.

As his career progressed, Uchytil made a conscious effort to diversify his experience as much as possible. He went where the wind of opportunity took him. He held management positions not only in Canada (including Newfoundland and Labrador), the U.S. and Venezuela, but also in Mexico, Indonesia and Russia.

After settling permanently in Houston, Uchytil spent several years as president and CEO of Xtreme Drilling and Coil Services, as well as several years as V.P. of project management at Halliburton. In 2015, he assumed his position as president and CEO of Impact Fluid Solutions. When presented with some of the company’s drilling, cementing and completion offerings, Uchytil says he knew he had to get involved. “After 15 minutes, I realized there is a real value here,” he said.

Although Uchytil joined the company during the onset of the industry downturn, he used the knowledge he had garnered in the field, as well as in the office, to support the development of products and solutions that can be tailored to a customer’s needs. Uchytil collaborates with his team of scientists and engineers to develop innovative concepts that can be implemented to reduce NPT, improve wellbore stability and optimize well production.

The additives include ultra-low invasion fluid technology, environmentally compliant inhibitors and wellbore shielding spacer systems designed to eliminate problems before they happen. Impacts’ technology reduces losses of drilling fluid, cementing and, ultimately, time. The FLC product line, for instance, protects the formation by generating a fast, effective seal to mitigate fluid and pressure invasion. Its ultra-low-invasion fluid technology allows operators to drill unstable and mechanically weak formations while protecting against wellbore instability. “Our products are preventative, not curative,” Uchytil explained. “Essentially, you don’t want to buy flood insurance after the flood. We’ve found that once you break a formation, it’s a challenge to stop the losses. So why wait for problems to start if you can prevent them?”