HW “Hank” Helmer started his oilfield career at Eastman Whipstock in 1953. He was intrigued and wanted to learn the procedure of utilizing a whipstock to kickoff and sidetrack oil and gas wells. These were the days where the DD would make up the Whipstock BHA; trip in the hole; take a survey to determine “tool face” (which is the direction the bit travels when pushed); turn the BHA, take a single shot, check shot to make sure the whip face was pointing in the right direction; shear the pins holding the whipstock, drill 15-20 feet, come out of the hole, lay down the Whipstock BHA, pick up the drilling BHA, trip back in the hole and drill 94’; then take another single shot to determine if the whipstock run was effective. This process could take 24 hours or more. Today, with all the new technology, a driller can obtain the same result and information in less than an hour. Back then when the Directional Driller walked on the rig site he was the most revered and hated man on location. He was respected for his almost “magical” talents, but also the most disliked because of the level of work that he brought with him.
Hank left Eastman in 1961 to start Jet Directional with partner, Jack Hamilton, to sell their newly acquired skill of “Jetting” to control directional wells. This “new technology” consisted of a manufactured 2 cone bit with 1 large jet situated where the 3rd cone would normally be and 2 blanks that would force all the mud through that 1 jet which created a very powerful stream that washed out the formation in a specific direction. This technology was raw, but effective.
Helmer Directional Drilling was born in 1965! After many disputes with his partner, Jack, over sales/operational methodologies; Hank felt it was best that each man move forward on their own, utilizing the philosophy that suited each of them.
Hank moved to New Orleans to be closer to the major oil operator’s offices. He would sell a job and work the job. Once he finish the job, he would start calling again to sell the next job and work that job too; and so on. His 2nd wife, Joan Hebert Helmer, was the master mind of building customer relationships. If Hank told her that a customer loved pralines, she would bake three or four different pralines recipes until she found the best one to please the customer’s tastebuds. She was also the beauty behind the business, often making rig calls with Hank to give a sweet smile and share her witty comments to the Superintendents and Company men. She would be the first sight of a women for the rig crews after days of them seeing nothing but scruffy, dirty hard hats.
In 1969, he sold 2 jobs that were scheduled to start at the same time. Well, Hank did not want to turn down either job. He hire his first employee, Paul Walton, to drill the 2nd job. That started HDD on it’s path of growth from Hank working the jobs he sold himself to having 7 hands in the field by 1977. At that time Hank concentrated on sales and coordinating the jobs. Hank’s day started at 5:30am each morning with ship to shore radio calls to each rig. There were no secrets in those days because your conversation could be heard all over the Gulf of Mexico… on every rig (approximately 230 offshore rigs) that had the radios on. Needless to say, there were daily “entertaining” calls involving the disgruntled drilling superintendents with rig crews, and even explicit martial dramas!
Richard Helmer became the 8th employee when he went to work for HDD in 1977. He was working as a derrick hand on the Mr. Si, a Letourneau jack-up rig for Fluor Drilling. Richard trained with Helmer’s 2nd employee, Percy Little, in the Gulf of Mexico on PMI Rig 76 in South Marsh Island Block 130. He learned all the skills of Directional drilling of the times. When onshore, Dean Hebert schooled Richard in the “art of the BHA”, as to when and where to change BHA’s, where to utilize full gauge & under gauge stabilizers, how to lead a target to minimize the amount of trips during the DD portion of the well, what type of rock bits to run to achieve the goal needed and how to use weight on bit and pump pressure combined with RPM’s to change the performance of the BHA. Dean was tough, impatient and cantankerous, but he was most definitely the biggest influence in Richard’s education in the art of directional drilling. Dean revealed to Richard one special “trick of the trade” … the Doghouse survey!! This skill was born from the need to NOT tell the company man you missed a survey. A single shot survey took close to an hour of rig time. So, if a survey was missed, you quietly & quickly reloaded the single shot tool, set the timer for 30 seconds, stood the tool in the corner of the doghouse and “took a survey”. Of course, it wasn’t good or accurate, but it gave you something to show the Company man and use the excuse of “must be interference”. Then the DD suggest, “let’s drill 3-6 more joints and try again”!
Richard “broke out” in 10 months and went on his own 1 week later. Eventually, Richard was working in almost every offshore area including the Freeport/McMoRan Main Pass 299 platform (combo Sulphur and Oil & Gas project) and the Mississippi Canyon 194 Block. He was drilling some of the first high angle/long reach wells ranging from 60 -99 degrees of angle. He was the driller on the 1st Dual Rig Platform, Shell Oil’s Cognac Platform, home to almost 80+ wells when finished. HDD was instrumental in saving nearly 1 ½ years on the projected planned timeline. It was during this time on Cognac that the era of Mud Motors & MWD tools entered the directional industry. Not long after, the advancement of steerable mud motors came into being, further streamlining the process and time of well control.
He stayed in the field until December 19, 1980, a date Richard will never forget. On that day, while on a rig in E. White Lake for Delta Development, Hank & Joan Helmer were involved in a private jet crash in Many, La. They were going to take the final walk through of the Helmer camp they were building on United Bay on the Toledo Bend Reservoir. Hank was the only survivor, miraculously. He spent the next 4 ½ months recovering in Schumpert Hospital in Shreveport. Then he was moved to Baptist Hospital in New Orleans for another 4 ½ months. Finally, wrapping up his recovery in a body cast and hospital bed at his home in Timberlane in Gretna, La. Richard stayed with Hank the whole time he was recovering, spelled at times (when she could) by his sister Julie H Childress who was an RN and mom with 2 young children of her own.
Once Hank could dress, eat, and drive on his own; he decided Richard would make a good salesman and began training him to eventually take over HDD someday. In his always witty way with words, Hank stated “you know how to drink, so we will teach you how to play golf and make a salesman out of you”!
Richard learned the way of sales through another mentor, James “Big Jim” Carrere. In 1982, Jim exposed Richard to his first Houston oilfield lunch at a “restaurant” called Rick’s know for the best club sandwiches in the city! Richard was nervous and closely following Jim’s lead, but soon he began to observe the environment around the restaurant. When Richard realized that there was multiple “club sandwiches” being offer for lunch at Rick’s Cabaret, he then turned and looked at Jim in disbelieve, the table broke out in laughter and Richard was considered initiated into oilfield sales. Richard was a quick learner and eventually, was named President of HDD in 1996. Richard stayed in New Orleans until 1997, then moved to Lafayette, La. to learn the operations side of the business.
Helmer Directional Drilling succeeded through three downturns. During these time periods, HDD was blessed with loyal customers to keep the company in business and loyal employees who agreed to salary cuts and reduced expenses to survive.
In 1996, Rotary Steerable Systems and Retrievable MWD’s joined the new technology aspects of directional drilling. HDD quickly incorporated the skills needed to properly execute and utilize this new technology while continuing to teach the tried & true DD methods. Richard continues to believe that proven successful experience combined with new technology allows for the overall best DD performance.
Helmer DD became an international drilling company in 2012, through Richard’s efforts. HDD was the first to drill directional and horizontal wells in Belize, Guatemala and as far as Paupau, New Guinea. HDD successfully planned and executed 4 level stairstep horizontal. The experimental well tested at 25K BBLs/Day and 250,000,000 MCF of gas/Day. The logistics and tool inventory needed in these remote locations took careful planning. Diligent research on the special logistics required, formations of the well bore and the forethought of potential problematic circumstances allowed HDD to be very successful. However, we had one oversight of working in the international space. Our western culture and humor do not necessarily blend well with others. We learned this lesson when a HelmerDD field engineer overheard the plans of the local rig crew in Paupau, New Guinea. The night DD thought his good-natured teasing that was accepted in the states was fun to use with the locals, but it was not taken well. The lead DD made this discovery before they could carry out their “dinner plans”! He had to jump into action to negotiate and convince the crew members NOT to take the good natured DD hand into the jungle to kill and consume his body.
Helmer Directional Drilling is proud and honored to have operated in the Oil and Gas Industry for 56 years. We have drilled over 27 million feet of Directional wells in this time period. Several Directional drilling companies have spun off of HelmerDD and found much success of their own. We are humbled by the loyalty and trust extended to us by our customers and employees. We offer many thanks to all the players who pasted through our doors. But the time has come for Helmer Directional Drilling to diversity and grow into Helmer OPS.
Renee Helmer, President
Mrs. Helmer founded Helmer OPS as a minority owned company in 2020 in need to overcome the devastating effects the Corona virus pandemic had on the Oil and Gas industry and around the world. The third-generation oil and gas family realized the need to diversify when drilling dramatically became nonexistant. Helmer OPS was formed to rebuild and rebrand the Helmer legacy in an ever-changing energy industry. Renee had a vision to build a company that encompassed the newest and most dependable technology to her customers. The six decades the Helmer family spent building relationships and reputation proved fruitful.
The first opportunity that she found profitable was negotiating the sale of excess assets from service companies domestically and internationally. She partnered with M and E Partners, a strategic asset monetizing company. As the industry began to recover and drilling activity returned, loyal customers called for their drilling project needs. This led to the collaboration between Helmer OPS and FireRock Energy Services. Helmer OPS began managing directional drilling projects utilizing the relationships she maintained with the most experienced drillers available. Throughout this time, Mrs. Helmer continue to seek out new technology to build a quality products portfolio. Currently these products include the most recent advancements in downhole mud motors and MWD/LWD tools; DeepView, a drilling optimization software, and Flare gas remediation solutions and equipment.
As fate would have it, Renee caught the attention of a proven team of experienced comrades that joined forces with Helmer OPS to blend our combined 150 years of knowledge and experience to set Helmer OPS apart from other service companies.
Quinn Wright, VP of Business Development
Graduated from The University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1986. 36 years oilfield experience and 28 years of directional management and sales experience. Worked for Zapata Offshore from 1978 to 1986. Roughneck to driller. 1987-1993 Sales and management for Allmerica Financial. 1994 Sales for Reamco oilfield tool rentals and manufacturing. 1995-1999 Dailey International directional sales and management. Directional sales and management. 2000-2003 Directional sales and management Weatherford International. 2003-2017. Crescent Directional. 2017-2018 Sales HPLI. 2019-2020 Managing Member sales and management Hunter Directional.
Greg Procell, Executive Sales
Graduated form Northwestern State University in 1974 with a BS Degree in Education and in 1976 with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. With over 20 years of experience, he started his oil field sales job with Pro Directional. He worked 12 years for Terra Directional, 3 years for Helmer Directional, and is 2 years in with HelmerOPS.
Heath Gault, Operations Manager
Heath has over 30 years of oilfield experience. He started his career with MURCO Drilling after spending four years in the U.S. Navy. He also worked for Noble Drilling, offshore and on land, domestically and overseas. He began as a floorman and advanced to Tool Pusher.
Heath began his directional drilling career in 2004 as a directional driller trainee. Heath advanced to Operations Manager in the Permian and Delaware Basin, overseeing 100+ employees and a full-service motor shop in Midland, TX. Heath has also worked as a wellsite supervisor for an operator in the Delaware Basin.
Heath has experience in vertical control, build and hold, “S” wells, horizontal wells and other directional techniques.
Heath has been an Operations Manager, Directional Coordinator, Field Directional Superintendent, and a Directional Driller. He is experienced with MWD systems, Mud pulse and EM technology, well construction, design and planning.
Heath has worked in Mexico, UAE, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Mexico, and throughout the U.S. on land in many different shale plays.
It is our goal to preserve every employee’s health and well being while in the employment of this company and its customers. This can only be achieved by each employee committing himself/herself totally to Helmer Oilfield Products and Services. Safety practices.
Helmer Oilfield Products and Services is committed to providing every employee with a safe work environment, knowledge and training in safe work habits and practices. By doing this we will protect our employees from personal injury, reduce the loss of property and protect the environment.
The success of Helmer Oilfield Products and Services depends not only on the service we perform and the products we produce for our customers, but also and just as importantly, the safe manner in which each job is performed. No job is so important or urgent that personnel, equipment, or public safety will be jeopardized for production. Full cooperation is anticipated from each and every employee to make the Safe Practice Program an effective one.