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January 30, 2015 | Continental CEO Harold Hamm is calling on producers to cut spending in order for oil prices to rebound quickly.    Oil Will Recover Once Producers Quit Spending, Hamm Says By: Harry Weber (Bloomberg) (Bloomberg) -- Oil prices will recover as early as the first half of this year as producers cut back, Continental Resources Inc. founder and CEO Harold Hamm said Wednesday. Hamm said Continental, the largest leaseholder and producer in the Bakken shale play of North Dakota and Montana, can weather low crude prices “forever” as it idles wells. He expects other drillers to cut spending by 50 to 75 percent, in line with Continental’s announced reductions. “A lot of people think, well, if you start drilling, you’ve got about a six-month process before you can slow down,” Hamm said in an interview at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston. “Wrong. Because after all, you drill that well, it takes about a month to drill it, or 25 days. You don’t have to complete it.” Spending at Oklahoma City-based Continental will fall by 41 percent to $2.7 billion in 2015 and production will increase by as much as 20 percent this year, down from 29 percent, the company said Dec. 22. It will average about 31 rigs in 2015, down from 50, and will drill an estimated 188 wells in the Bakken formation and about 81 wells in the south-central Oklahoma formation. “What you do, you go into cash conservation mode quickly,” Hamm said. “Basically, you quit spending money.” The number of wells awaiting completion in North Dakota rose to 775 in November from 585 in June, according to state data. Completion Costs Sixty percent of the cost, on average, is from once the rig leaves the location, Hamm said. “Why spend that money today to bring on production that’s going to be sold in a bad market? You don’t need to do that.” West Texas Intermediate for March delivery slid 70 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $43.75 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:02 a.m. New York time. The contract dropped $1.78 to $44.45 on Wednesday, the lowest close since March 2009. Well completion costs should come down in the future, Hamm said, adding that if a producer can save 5 percent of those costs, it can wait a year to go forward. If more producers take that approach, the biggest drop in oil prices in five years will quickly be a memory, he said. To read the rest of this article, visit Bloomberg. 

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January 30, 2015 | Reuters analyst John Kemp discusses his predictions for what to expect in the U.S. oil market this year.   COLUMN-Factors that will drive U.S. oil production in 2015: Kemp By: John Kemp (Reuters) LONDON Jan 27 (Reuters) - Rig counts are a highly imperfect guide to future oil production but they are one of the few readily available statistics on oilfield activity so it is unwise to dismiss their importance entirely. The sharp drop in crude oil prices since June 2014 and associated fall in rig counts published by state regulators and service companies such as Baker Hughes has sparked a lively debate about the short-term outlook for U.S. oil production. Some analysts have forecast the drop in rig counts will cause production to peak in the first six months of 2015 then begin to fall in the second half of the year. I count myself in this camp. Other analysts predict production will remain steady or continue to grow, albeit much more slowly than the 1 million barrel per day (bpd) increases recorded in 2013 and 2014. In practice, the differences are smaller than the two sides imply. Most forecasters put the change in daily production between December 2014 and December 2015 at less than 250,000 bpd, whether up or down. For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts output in December 2015 will be just 90,000 bpd higher than in December 2014 ("Short-Term Energy Outlook" Jan 2015). That would be a marked slowdown from the 1.28 million bpd increase between December 2013 and December 2014 or the 790,000 bpd increase between December 2012 and December 2013. At a rough approximation, most forecasters expect U.S. production to be flat in 2015 - after two years of 1 million bpd growth, during which time North American shale producers were the marginal suppliers to the world oil market. And every forecast for U.S. oil production contains an implicit forecast for what will happen to oil prices over the course of the year. EIA thinks the number of active drilling rigs in the United States will fall by 24 percent between January and October 2015 before starting to recover in November. That forecast is based on its assumption WTI prices will increase to an average of $53 per barrel by June and $67 in December. WTI prices have so far averaged just under $48 so far in 2015, so EIA's forecasts for rig counts and production are conditioned on a $20 price increase by the end of the year. NOT JUST RIG COUNTS U.S. oil production "reflects more than just the rig count," as EIA emphasised in a research note published on Monday analysing the combined effect of all the factors known to affect output. The note is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the likely production trend in 2015. In fact, oil production reflects a constellation of factors, of which the most important are: 1. The number of rigs employed (raw rig count). 2. The speed with which rigs are able to drill wells on average (affected by the time lost moving location and setting up, incidents causing stoppages and type of rock drilled through). 3. Efficiency and capability of the rigs (maximum operating depth and available horsepower). 4. Average vertical depth of wells drilled and length of horizontal sections. 5. Speed with which wells, once drilled, are pressure pumped and completed, so they can start producing. To read the rest of this article, visit Reuters. 

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January 30, 2015 | Baker Hughes CEO Martin Craighead is choosing to emphasize the cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry with optimism that the slumping industry will recover like it has many times in the past.    Baker Hughes Incorporated Sees a Light Amid Oil Market Darkness By:  Matt DiLallo (Motley Fool) Oil-field services provider Baker Hughes  (NYSE: BHI  ) recently reported strong fourth-quarter results. Unfortunately, those results were overshadowed by an increasingly uncertain short-term outlook as a result of plunging oil prices. However, CEO Martin Craighead sees the pain of the downturn leading to long-term gains for the industry. Here we go again In opening comments during the company's quarterly conference call, Craighead emphasized the industry's cyclical nature: [...] our industry is clearly in the early stages of a down cycle, the same sort of cycle we enter once or twice a decade. As with past cycles, the early days are always marked with a high degree of uncertainty -- which customers will cut spending and by how much, how fast will rig counts drop, and where and when are we going to reach the bottom? And we don't have precise answers to all these questions and no one frankly does. But we have been through this before, many times in fact. Craighead noted that no matter what analyst or industry executives say, no one can actually predict these downturns, nor when the next up cycle will begin. The industry just knows these downturns happen every few years, and now it needs to adjust. He then launched into a brief history lesson: What we have learned in the past is that when the market turns down, it turns swiftly. In each of the last three downturns dating back to the 1990s, we have seen North American rig counts fall between 40% and 60% in the space of only 12 months. International rigs don't tend to fall as sharply but begin to drop steadily a couple of months after the first signs of weakness appear in North America. Craighead said Baker Hughes does not believe "this cycle is going to any different" than prior cycles, and that the company has "navigated" many such pullbacks and surges in the industry. To read the rest of this article, visit The Motley Fool. 

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