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How To Start A Hotshot Trucking Business In The Oilfield


If you are looking for a way to start your own business, and live in an area where oil and gas drilling is occurring, you might want to consider starting a hot shot trucking business or oilfield "hotshot" service. These companies provide trucking services for items that don't require an eighteen wheeler, and which need to be picked up or delivered to oil rigs. The term "hot shot trucking" refers to the fact that speed and promptness are a major part of the business. When an oil drilling rig is shut down, downtime costs can run as much as several thousand dollars per hour. If the drilling company is waiting on an important part, such as a new set of pipe tongs, kelly hose or part of the rotary table, a hotshot company will be called to pick it up from another rig, the company's yard, or an oilfield supply company and deliver it to the rig ASAP. Things that oilfield hot shot companies typically haul include directional drilling mud motors, drill collars, drill pipe, MWD-LWD equipment, rig parts, mud pump parts, drill line, etc.

What Kind Of Equipment Do Your Need To Start An Oilfield Hotshot Service?

The Hot Shot Truck

You will need a one ton dually or dual axle pickup truck. Nothing else will really work as well. An oilfield hot shot truck should also be a diesel. That's because only a diesel engine will give you enough starting torque, pulling power, and fuel economy to haul the kind of loads you will be hauling in the oilfield. One with a flat bed makes it easier to turn on tight rig locations and back up to in the yard. Many hotshot trucks have extra fuel tanks. This is especially important since oil wells are often located miles from town. If you have to "deadhead" to another rig to pick up another load or backhaul, you may not have time to stop and get fuel.  Another feature that can be very handy to have on a hotshot truck is a gin pole. If the rig doesn't have a forklift or if it is not working, you can still offload many items with a gin pole, or winch setup on the rear of your pickup, after you unhitch from the trailer. What kind of pickup truck is best for hotshot work is up for lots of debate. As someone who once worked in the oilfield, I have seen lots of Dodge trucks with Cummins engines, as well as Ford one ton diesels, and a few Chevy dually diesels used in hotshot work. Having a truck with four wheel drive may be more than a luxury, if the rigs you visit are often down muddy roads. On the flipside, this can add extra maintenance costs, and reduce fuel mileage.

Oilfield Hot Shot Trailers

Many oilfield hotshot services use trailers that are custom made for that purpose. One such trailer that you see a lot in places like the Permian basin are the "Big Tex" trailers in lengths of 30' to 40'. A good hotshot trailer should have dual tandem axles and be rated for at least 30,000 pounds. Look for ones with heavy duty I beam construction, heavy duty suspension and a roll off back end. There are some custom models which tilt, just as large semi truck trailers can, to allow for rolling off some loads. A search for "custom oilfield hot shot trailers" will bring up several companies who make them.

Other Things You'll Need To Start A Hot Shot Service In The Oilfield

Hot shot truck drivers must have a CDL or commercial driver's license. Your company will need to register with the state agency that regulates trucking in your state. In Texas, hot shot companies will need to register with TXDOT. If the company does hauling over state lines you will need to register with the FMCSA or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (formerly the ICC). You'll need business liability insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, a DBA or "doing business as" registration in your county, and most likely some type of incorporation, such as a LLC to reduce your personal liabilities and save on taxes. Other state registrations may be required, depending on where you live. You will need to advertise your business and work hard at creating goodwill and repeat customers in the oilfield in order to stay in business. A hotshot business will need a twenty four hour answering service and all employees must have a cell phone with a good coverage plan.  The driver will need to have an ANSI approved hardhat, safety glasses and steel toe boots to be allowed on most drilling locations. To start an oilfield hot shot business will require startup capital of in excess of $100,000 in most cases. Fuel costs are a large part of operating expenses, as is insurance.  If you are thinking of starting your own oilfield hot shot service, you might want to talk to other companies who are located outside of the area where you would be starting the business, for tips. For general business startup advice, SCORE, an organization of volunteer retired business owners, can offer free advice.  Another option is to buy an established oilfield hot shot business that is for sale. This can offer advantages and disadvantages. The seller may take his best clients with him to another startup, or leave you saddled with a poor reputation.

Hiring Out Yourself And Your Equipment

Many hotshot truck operators start off by buying a used or new rig and subleasing it and their services to an established company. This can be a good way to learn the industry before going out on your own and reduce some business startup costs.




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