A flowback operator (also referred to as a flowback consultant) is a contract professional working on location on behalf of a service company between completion and production of a well. This person provides the equipment and services required to support all flowback operations during hydraulic fracturing, drill out, and initial flowback. This position is most essential once a well is completed and production is beginning as they monitor wellbore pressure, flowback content, and equipment.
What are the responsibilities of flowback operators? Flowback operators manage equipment such as heavy steel lines, manifolds, valves, flares, and tanks during hydraulic fracturing, drill out, and initial flowback. This includes supervising the supplying and transporting of the equipment, performing and analyzing testing, and minimizing damage to the equipment. They also provide the service that allows E&P companies to prepare a well for production. When a well is completed, a flowback crew will rig up to the wellhead to provide a contingent service. The flowback operator is responsible for allowing the pressurized wellbore fluids to flow up to the service in a controlled manner, clearing sand blockages and solving other problems that may arise during flowback. The flowback operator will also manage the flowback manifold and other equipment during drill out to maintain the desired pressure on the wellbore, making sure the fluids and sand are safely produced and separated while maintaining the integrity and safety of the flowback operation. This consultant monitors and records data regarding flowback, recommending and implementing changes as needed. A flowback operator also manages water hauling services during this stage of an operation.
What is the required experience or career path for a flowback operator? Experience working on completion operations is preferred, but flowback operators can be trained if they have no experience. A valid driver’s license is required. A few years of experience as a field service operator, flowback assistant, well tester, working with machinery or other relevant experience in oil and gas is recommended.
Where does a flowback operator work? A flowback operator spends about 50% of their time on location at a well, and the other 50% at the service yard. They may leave wellsite occasionally to run errands, sleep at the hotel, or to make runs to and from the yard.
What is a flowback operator's schedule? A flowback operator’s schedule varies depending on the schedule run by the service or flowback company, but common schedules for this position are (days on site/days off):
Flowback operators typically work 12 hours per day. Most often, there is one day shift consultant and one night shift consultant. Some companies, though, only run one consultant who is responsible for 24-hour operations. Short term jobs of around 30 days or less may operate without ever making a flowback operator change.
Who does a flowback operator report to? The flowback operator reports to the completion consultant, workover consultant, and coil tubing consultant on a completion operation.
Who reports to a flowback operator? There is no direct report to a flowback operator.
How much do flowback operators make? Flowback operators average $500 per day but may make between $350 and $750 per day depending on experience, specialties, location, and category of well.