Geophysical Surveying and Mapping Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 960 geophysical surveying and mapping service providers in the US gather, interpret, and map geophysical data, primarily for oil and natural gas companies. Individual clients commission proprietary or exclusive surveys, which generally cover a limited area. Multi-client surveys are funded by geophysical surveying companies, which then own and market or license the data to clients.

Dependence on the Fossil Fuel Industry

Demand for geophysical surveying and mapping services is dependent on the level of spending in the oil and natural gas industry, which is cyclical and affected by global market conditions.

Uneven, Seasonal Demand

Demand for geophysical surveying and mapping services is uneven and influenced by seasonal factors.

Industry size & Structure

The average geophysical mapping and surveying provider operates out of a single location, employs about 7-8 workers and generates $1-2 million annually.

    • The geophysical mapping and surveying services industry consists of about 960 firms that employ about 8,140 workers and generate about $1.7 billion annually.
    • The industry is highly concentrated; the top 50 companies account for about 80% of industry revenue.
    • Large firms, which include Dawson Geophysical, SAExploration Holdings, Echo Seismic, Breckenride Geophysical, and Paragon Geophysical Services, often have international operations
    • Small firms typically operate one or two crews and specialize in specific regions or types of operations.
                            Industry Forecast
                            Geophysical Surveying and Mapping Services Industry Growth
                            Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                            Recent Developments

                            Oct 23, 2023 - Prices for Engineering Services Are Climbing
                            • Producer prices for architectural and engineering services rose in September compared to a year ago, continuing a decade-long steady climb. Overall employment by the industry also increased in September year over year as did average industry wages for nonsupervisory employees. Sales for the US geophysical surveying and mapping services industry are forecast to grow at a 3.87% compounded annual rate from 2022 to 2027, slower than the growth of the overall economy.
                            • Exxon Mobil’s $60 billion bid for fracking operator Pioneer Natural Resources (PNR) is a big bet on the future of the US oil and gas industry, The Wall Street Journal reported in October. The merger of Exxon and PNR, if completed, would create a huge fracking operator in West Texas, vastly expanding Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin, which accounted for 18% of all US natural gas production last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The deal is expected to set off a period of consolidation among oil and gas companies as they look for acquisition targets among US shale producers. Indeed, less than two weeks after Exxon’s deal for PNR, Chevron announced it would buy Hess for $53 billion, highlighting the industry’s bet on continued fossil-fuel use, according to WSJ. Hess has shale assets primarily in the Bakken Shale of North Dakota, per WSJ.
                            • Energy trade groups are urging the timely finalization by the Biden administration of a new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (five-year leasing program), Offshore Energy reports. In July, the Biden administration proposed a new, five-year leasing program that narrows the area considered for leasing to the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet while removing federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts from consideration. Moreover, the Interior Department has proposed holding zero lease sales – a proposal that’s popular with climate activists but opposed by the offshore oil and natural gas industry. The industry is advocating for a program that includes the maximum number of lease sales and beginning the pre-leasing work required to start holding sales in 2024. The administration has committed to issuing a new five-year leasing program by the end of September. The previous program expired in June 2022.
                            • The debt ceiling bill signed by President Biden in June includes measures aimed at speeding the federal permitting process, such as setting deadlines for environmental reviews, Utility Dive reports. The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) amends the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by requiring a single federal agency to lead environmental reviews for infrastructure projects. It also sets a one-year deadline for agencies to issue environmental assessments and a two-year deadline for environmental impact statements. The measures in the FRA are a first step for permitting reform, with more to come, according to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who negotiated the bill. The mining and energy industries have long said the NEPA process has become, in many respects, an obstacle to efficient permitting. Going forward, Republicans will likely push for additional reforms to NEPA, along with the Clean Water Act and other environmental statutes to effect significant permitting reform.
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