Chevron, Exxon Mobile and British Petroleum get all the headlines, but the companies that deliver oilfield services are the “unsung workhorses of the oil industry” and do the vast majority of the exploration and extraction of oil and gas,¬†according to a recent story in The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/21559358).

These are the people who came up with a technique called “directional drilling,” which transformed the industry by allowing drilling rigs to drill vertically, then shift sharply and continue drilling horizontally for up to seven miles, the story notes. This technology “vastly increases the area one rig can cover.”

While not as big as the huge oil company names, many of the companies in the oilfield services industry are also large caps, including Schlumberger, Cameron, FMC, National Oilwell Varco, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International.

But there are also many small cap firms in this sector. Here are four selected randomly:

Houston-based Flotek Industries (NYSE: FTK, http://www.flotekind.com/) develops and supplies a portfolio of drilling and production related products and services to the energy and mining industries worldwide. FTK operates in three segments: Chemicals, Drilling and Artificial Lift. While some of the big names–Baker Hughes and Schlumberger–have posted good results for the second quarter of 2012, FTK reports its results after market Aug. 8 and will host a conference call to discuss the quarter at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9. FTK closed Aug.1 at $9.71, down 6 cents for the day. It’s market cap is about $480 million and 52-week trading range was $3.89-$14.73.

Norwalk, CT-based Bolt Technology Corp. (Nasdaq: BOLT, http://www.bolt-technology.com/) operates in the offshore drilling segment. It manufactures and sells marine seismic data acquisition equipment and underwater robotic vehicles. In January 2011 Bolt purchase SeaBotix Inc. According to a Seeking Alpha story in early June, Bolt’s one year projected earnings per share growth rate is 43.28 percent. Its market cap is about $122 million and 52-week trading range is $9.56-$16.09. It closed Aug. 1 at $14.45, down 10 cents for the day.

Houston-based Tesco Corporation (Nasdaq: TESO, http://www.tescocorp.com/) operates in four divisions serving drilling contractors and the oil and natural gas industry: Top Drives, Tubular Services, Casing Drilling and Reseach and Engineering. In October 2011 Tesco purchased Premiere Casing Services-Egypt SAE. Its market cap is about $437 million and 52-week trading range is $10.01-$21.10. It closed Aug. 1 at $11.31, down 28 cents for the day.

The Woodlands, TX-based Newpark Resources Inc. (NYSE: NR, http://www.newpark.com/) provides products mainly to the oil and gas exploration industry. It operates in three segments: Fluid Systems and Engineering, Mats and Integrated Services, and Environmental Services. In April 2011 it acquired the drilling fluids and engineering services business from Rheochem PLC. Its market cap is about $602 million and 52-week trading range is $5.19 and $10.62. It closed Aug. 1 at $6.68, down 15 cents for the day.

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