A pumper (also referred to as a lease operator or gauger) in the oil and gas industry is a contract professional working on location on behalf of an E&P company, sometimes working for multiple operators simultaneously. As the E&P’s first point of contact at each of their wells, the pumper or lease operator is responsible for the safe, consistent, financially efficient, and environmentally conscious production of wells. They directly oversee all operations of the wells, controlling the income and expense of each well.
What are the responsibilities of a pumper? An oilfield pumper, lease operator, or gauger is responsible for anywhere from 1 well to 100 wells depending on proximity of the E&P company’s wells and the degree of wellsite automation used by the company. In instances of low automation the pumper visits each well daily to check oil, gas, and water production volumes and ensure there are no safety or environmental concerns like leaks or equipment failure. At each well they record production data, attempt to investigate and fix any wells which have fallen off production trend, make artificial lift adjustments to optimize production of the wells, and call out any services that are needed to maintain the wells (water/oil hauling, chemical refill, etc). At the end of each day they will summarize this data in a daily production report to send to the superintendent or foreman. The lease operator coordinates with either the production superintendent or the office engineer actively with multiple interactions per day discussing down wells, well optimization, and expense control. As degrees of automation increase, the frequency of these necessary well checks decreases, so the pumper may oversee more wells simultaneously.
What is the required experience or career path for a pumper? Experience working in the oil field is not required in an entry level lease operator, pumper, or gauger position. However, pay rate may be determined based on experience, and opportunities for increased responsibility come with experience. This position does not require an undergraduate degree.
Where does a pumper work? A pumper (lease operator, gauger) spends about 85% of their time in the field and driving from wellsite to wellsite to monitor their operations. They may spend the remaining 15% in the office. It is common for a pumper to live near the wells and assets they service.
What is a pumper's schedule? A pumper, lease operator, or gauger typically works in a rotation set by the E&P company of 4-5 days on and 2-3 days off. When working, lease operators are responsible for their wells 24 hours per day as the first responders in any safety or production crisis, so they live near location.
Who does a pumper report to? The pumper (lease operator) reports to the production superintendent, production/operations engineer, VP of operations, COO, or CEO depending on the size of the company (one would report to a CEO in the smallest company and a production superintendent in the largest company, for example).
Who reports to a pumper? Those performing services that support production of a pumper’s wells such as water hauling, artificial lift, etc. report to an pumper or lease operator.
How much does a pumper make? Pumpers, sometimes called lease operators or gaugers, make $400 per day on average. They may make between $350 and $1,400 per day depending on experience, specialties, location, and category of well. Lease operators can also be compensated on a per well or per day rate if they are responsible for managing a consistent group or route of wells.