Aera’s close association with this service company goes back decades
Hardly a day goes by that OST Trucks & Cranes isn’t working to help Aera Energy produce oil and gas to meet California’s needs.
OST is a full-service transportation and crane company that works with diverse industries up and down the West Coast. It’s also one of the thousands of the businesses whose success is intertwined with California’s oil and gas sector.
As one of Aera’s key transportation partners, OST moves the big loads – tubing, piping, pumping units, rigs, tanks — to and from oilfields. OST also supplies the cranes that lift and lower those heavy loads.
“We’re kind of a taxi service for heavy equipment,” said Dennis Zermeno, OST president and son of the company’s founder.
Last May, for example, OST transported three new natural-gas vessels from Bakersfield to Aera’s Ventura field. Two of the empty tanks measured 65 feet long and weighed 80,000 pounds each. The third vessel was slightly smaller at 55 feet and 64,000 pounds.
With careful planning and the right equipment, it took OST just a day to move the oversized loads to their destination, according to OST’s Nic Chutuk, who supervises the company’s projects with Aera.
“Aera is a leader in safety,” Zermeno said. “Their safety consciousness has helped us be a better, safer company.”
OST has operated out of Ventura since 1947. Its relationship with Aera is rooted in those early years, when Zermeno’s father, Leon, hauled drilling mud to the Ventura oil rigs operated by Aera’s predecessor, Shell Oil. Today, OST employs 83 people.
OST and Aera are also longtime neighbors. Aera’s Ventura lease sits next to OST’s headquarters. The trucking company owns part of Aera’s leased property. OST also serves Aera’s Belridge field and operates an office and yard near Bakersfield.
OST’s close association with Aera has proved its worth over the decades. “Aera is a leader in safety,” Zermeno said. “Their safety consciousness has helped us be a better, safer company.”
A big fleet
OST’s fleet list is impressive: 26 tractor-semis; five tractors with cranes, also known as stinger trucks; three “roll-off” trucks to transport by-products from the fields; 14 cranes; 200 trailers; dozens of forklifts and all the accessories that accompany the equipment.
Besides the oil and gas industry, OST’s fleet also serves utility companies, offshore platforms, construction projects, dredging jobs and more. A big part of OST’s crane work involves lifting air-conditioning units on to the roofs of buildings.
All those industries, said Zermeno, share a common challenge: complying with the stringent regulations that govern California’s businesses.
“It’s hard to work under requirements that are always changing and running up costs,” he said.
Over the last 10 years, OST has had to replace all of its trucks at a cost of $150,000 to $175,000 each to comply with California’s new exhaust emission standards.
Zermeno added that the California Air Resources Board requires off-road diesel equipment operators to install Tier 4 diesel engines in their cranes. Tier 4 standards are EPA’s newest emissions requirement for off-highway diesel engines. California has adopted them as well. For OST, the engine replacement cost is about $70,000 for each crane, including parts and labor.
“These engine replacements have been very costly,” said Zermeno. “While we understand and support the need to protect air quality and public health, we have been frustrated with how the rules were developed. They were made with little input from the truck and crane industry.
“California regulations are stricter than the rest of the U.S.,” he added, “and I’m concerned the demands on business are only going to get worse, not really solve any problems and make it more challenging for the California economy to bounce back.”
In the meantime, Aera will continue to count on OST.
“They always meet or exceed our safety standard,” said Aera’s Craig Martinez, a process specialist at the Ventura operation. “When OST says they’re going to show up at a certain time, they do. Their people are experienced, and their equipment is dependable and, above all, safe.”