HUVR Hero: Earl “The Tank Whisperer” Crochet

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Posted on January 10

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HUVR Hero: Earl Crochet

Earl “The Tank Whisperer” Crochet started his 34+ year career cleaning tanks and is now advising tank owner/operators and the US government at the highest levels. When an asset owner wants a reality check on anything tank related, Earl is the guy they call. He is ubiquitous in the industry; he is a prolific speaker thanks to his down-to-earth style and ability to talk to anyone at any level–from an inspector to an owner. Earl knows everybody and everybody knows and respects Earl. 

It’s not hard to see why:  Earl is currently the EVP of Business Development Oil & Gas for Perceptive Sensors Technologies, Co-Owner of Global Learning Consultancy and Owner of Crochet Midstream Consulting. Until November 2020, he was the Director of Engineering for Asset Regulatory Support for Kinder Morgan Terminals, where he worked for more than a decade. Active in the API since 1994, Earl has been a key participant in the Subcommittee of Aboveground Storage Tanks (past Chairman) and was recently co-chair of the API 2350 Tank Overfill Prevention Committee. He also served on the Board of Directors of the ILTA from 2009 to 2015, including a term as Chairman. Earl has been a Certified API 653 Aboveground Storage Tank Inspector since 1993 and has been a professional engineer ever since.

In 2022, we began working with Earl as an advisor for HUVRdata. Earl brought his tank expertise to HUVR, recognizing that the industry was lacking a specialized above ground storage tank asset integrity management solution.  In February 2022, we announced the HUVR Tank Solution (HTS) within the HUVR platform to fill the gap in AST asset integrity management and to meet new compliance requirements introduced by SB900 in Texas. Earl has advised the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) since the publication of SB900, so his input in the creation of HTS was invaluable. 

Earl likes to keep one foot in the field and one foot in the office, and his dedication to understanding both the mechanics of tanks and the business model that they support gives him unique insights into the entire process of midstream oil and gas. His expertise is informed by his innate curiosity and love of learning, so he has a pretty good grip of everything upstream and downstream as well. His drive to know has set him apart in his career; learning about subjects or practices outside of a specific area was not the norm. But Earl has always been something of a maverick in this regard, and it’s paid off.

Today, there are very few people who understand both the nuts and bolts of tank inspection and operation and the business of oil and gas like Earl does, and it’s helped him shape the way tanks are managed and inspected. Of course, he’s far too humble to put it like this. That’s why he has us. Earl digitized the first ever tank inspection checklist for a digital handheld device (a Palm Pilot) back in 1999. That same checklist was still in use 20 years later. Earl has been leading the charge on digital transformation (an empty buzzword for some; a way of life for Earl) for over 20 years.

As such, he has some fairly perceptive insights to offer in terms of the best way to approach digitalization as well as the mechanics of digital inspections. “You have to understand the ‘why’ of doing something” is Earl’s North Star. It’s not enough to do it–you have to be able to explain why it’s important to do. This cascades down in an organization and informs every level of decision making. When the owners or operators understand why, they can clearly convey to the engineers and inspectors why a certain action must be taken. This also applies to the inspectors and engineers–when they understand the various “why’s,” they can make informed decisions and explain the business case for doing so. In Earl’s mind, it’s very much a back and forth. Everyone needs to understand (on some level) everyone else’s jobs. 

One of the things that drew Earl to HUVR and eventually inspired him to take on the mantle of advisor was that HUVR’s platform worked the way that he thought communications should work. Information flows between different stakeholders in a tank (or asset). Inspectors are able to easily enter information that is formatted correctly and delivered to the necessary engineer or manager. Earl sees HUVR as the glue that holds the entire information ecosystem together–the “hub of all data.” One way Earl has helped HUVR develop is a general understanding of which data is needed by different roles in an operation. This allows specialized reports to be created because engineers and owners need different critical information. Longer term historical data is now available in HUVR’s platform, meaning maintenance decisions rely less on short-term data points and more on the holistic big picture. 

This clear presentation of inspection data helps fix a problem Earl sees in the industry: human nature. Human nature dictates that sometimes people will present a certain view of an asset that isn’t best for the long-term, but works in the near term. When the model is run to failure (within the constraints of safety), small things can be overlooked. Data, when presented properly, doesn’t fall prey to this part of human nature. Earl is often the person in the room to point out the long term problem with short term thinking, admitting he may have “career limited” himself but he can’t help calling things like he sees them.

It is this unrestrained honesty and integrity that has allowed Earl to achieve a position of respect and influence within the tank community. When Earl says something, people listen because he’s going to tell the unvarnished truth–regardless of whether that truth is welcomed or not. It’s why we are so honored to have him on board as an advisor and to be honoring him as a HUVR Hero –he gives us the same treatment, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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