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RPC Inc (RES) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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RPC Inc (NYSE: RES)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Jan 27, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning and thank you for joining us for RPC, Inc.'s Fourth Quarter 2020 Financial Earnings Conference Call. Today's call will be hosted by Rick Hubbell, President and CEO and Ben Palmer, Chief Financial Officer. Also present is Jim Landers, Vice President of Corporate Services. [Operator Instructions] Jim will get us started by reading the forward-looking disclaimer.

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Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Thank you and good morning. Before we begin our call today, I want to remind you that in order to talk about our company we're going to mention a few things that are not historical facts. Some of the statements that will be made on this call could be forward looking in nature and reflect a number of known and unknown risks. I'd like to refer you to our press release issued today along with our 2019 10-K and other public filings that outline those risks, all of which can be found on RPC's website at www.rpc.net.

In today's earnings release and conference call, we'll be referring to several non-GAAP measures of operating performance. These non-GAAP measures are adjusted net loss, adjusted loss per share, adjusted operating loss, EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA. We're using these non-GAAP measures today because they allow us to compare performance consistently over various periods without regard to non-recurring items. In addition, RPC is required to use EBITDA to report compliance with financial covenants under our credit facility.

Our press release [Technical Issues] on our website contain reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to operating loss net loss and loss per share, which are the nearest GAAP financial measures. Please review these disclosures if you're interested in seeing how they are calculated. If you haven't received our press release yet and would like one, please see our website once again at www.rpc.net for a copy.

I will now turn the call over to our CEO and President, Rick Hubbell.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jim. This morning we issued our earnings press release for RPC's fourth quarter of 2020. We will discuss the quarter in a moment. Before we start though, I'd like to thank our employees for working through this incredibly challenging year of 2020. Through their efforts, our company is positioned to benefit from improving business conditions. We appreciate your dedication. Proportionately, several COVID vaccines have been approved and are now in the early stages of distribution. This development paves the way for a worldwide recovery in hydrocarbon demand.

On the supply side, we have experienced a lack of investment in drilling the past several years, a declining production base in "OPEC plus" discipline. This would appear supply and demand are heading in opposite directions. This confluence of events could potentially lead to an up cycle in our industry. RPC's fourth quarter activity levels improved sequentially for the first time since 2016, consistent with several oilfield key metrics. Our CFO Ben Palmer will discuss this and other financial results in more detail, after which I will provide some closing comments.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Okay. Thank you, Rick. For the fourth quarter of 2020, revenues decreased to $148.6 million compared to $236 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. Revenues decreased due to lower activity levels and pricing compared to the fourth quarter of the prior year. Adjusted loss for the fourth quarter was $11.3 million compared to an adjusted operating loss of $17.3 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $7.8 million compared to adjusted EBITDA of $23.2 million in the same period of the prior year.

For the fourth quarter of 2020, RPC reported a $0.03 adjusted loss per share compared to a $0.07 adjusted loss per share in the fourth quarter of the prior year. Cost of revenues during the fourth quarter of 2020 was $117.9 million or 79.3% of revenues compared to $176.9 million or 75% of revenues during the fourth quarter of 2019. Cost of revenues declined primarily due to decreases in expenses consistent with lower activity levels and RPC's cost reduction initiatives.

Cost of revenues as a percentage of revenues increased primarily due to lower pricing for our services and labor inefficiencies resulting from lower activity levels in the fourth quarter as compared to the prior year. Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased to $26 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to $36.8 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. These expenses decreased due to lower employment costs, primarily the result of cost reduction initiatives during previous quarters. Depreciation and amortization decreased to $18 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to $40.3 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

Depreciation and amortization decreased significantly, primarily due to asset impairment charges recorded in previous quarters, which reduced RPC's depreciable property, plant and equipment coupled with lower capital expenditures. Technical Services segment revenues for the quarter decreased 36.5% compared to the same quarter in the prior year. Segment operating loss in the fourth quarter of this year was $11.3 million compared to $17.2 million operating loss in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

Our Support Services segment revenues for the quarter decreased 43.6% compared to the same quarter in the prior year. Segment operating loss in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $2.6 million compared to an operating profit of $1.2 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. And on a sequential basis, RPC's fourth quarter revenues increased 27.5%, again to $148.6 million from $116.6 million in the prior quarter, and this was due to activity increases in most of the segment service lines as a result of higher completion activity.

Cost of revenues during the fourth quarter of 2020 increased by $17 million or 16.9% to $117.9 million due to expenses, which increased with higher activity levels such as materials and supplies and maintenance expenses. As a percentage of revenues, cost of revenues decreased from 86.5% in the third quarter of 2020 to 79.3% in the fourth quarter due to the leverage of higher revenues over certain costs including more efficient labor utilization.

Selling, general and administrative expenses during the fourth quarter of 2020 decreased 19.6% to $26 million from $32.4 million in the prior quarter. This was primarily due to the accelerated vesting of stock recorded in the prior quarter related to the death of RPC's Chairman. RPC recorded impairment and other charges of $10.3 million during the quarter. These charges included a non-cash pension settlement loss of $4.6 million and the cost to finalize the disposal of our former sand facility. RPC incurred an operating loss of $11.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to an adjusted operating loss of $31.8 million in the prior quarter.

RPC's adjusted EBITDA was $7.8 million in the current quarter compared to adjusted EBITDA of negative $12.3 million in the prior quarter. Technical Services segment revenues increased by $29.7 million or 27.2% to $139 million in the fourth quarter due to increased activity levels in several service lines.

RPC's Technical Service segment incurred an $11.3 million operating loss in the current quarter compared to an operating loss of $24.9 million in the prior quarter. Support Services segment revenues increased by $2.3 million or 32.1% to $9.7 million in the fourth quarter. Operating loss narrowed slightly from $3.8 million in the prior quarter to $2.6 million in the current quarter.

So during the fourth quarter, RPC operated five horizontal pressure pumping fleets, the same as the third quarter but with improved utilization. At the end of the fourth quarter, RPC's pressure pumping capacity remained at approximately 728,000 hydraulic horsepower. Fourth quarter 2020 capital expenditures were $12.8 million. We currently estimate 2021 capital expenditures to be approximately $55 million. This will be comprised primarily of capitalized maintenance of our existing equipment and selected growth opportunities.

With that, I'll now turn it back over to Rick for some closing remarks.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Ben, thank you. As 2021 begins, we have greater visibility into the near-term activity levels than in the recent past. Commodity prices have improved and our customers have a more constructive outlook. However, while we expect activity levels to continue to improve as the year progresses, we remain committed to capital discipline. We will remain disciplined and will not increase our equipment fleet until we have clarity into economic returns justifying investment. Currently, our operating plans for 2021 include low capital spending, continued expense management and scrutiny of customer relationships for acceptable profitability. At the end of the fourth quarter, RPC's cash balance was $84.5 million and we remain debt free. I'd like to thank you for joining us for RPC's conference call this morning. And at this time, we will open up the lines for your questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from Chris Voie with Wells Fargo. Your line is open.

Chris Voie -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Thanks, good morning.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Hey, Chris.

Chris Voie -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

First question, I guess on the fourth quarter. The decline in cash is pretty strong, obviously, a big build in working capital, is there anything unusual in there? And given that build, do you expect working capital to be a source over the course of '21 or a headwind as revenues grow? Just curious, can you give a little color on that?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, good question. During the fourth quarter, we talked about the sand mine facility that we sold. There was a lot of benefits to executing on that, that did cost us a little bit of cash, but it did generate a lot of tax benefits, you'll notice on the balance sheet that we have $80 million in income tax receivables. Some of that is being generated from the CARES Act, but also because of the closing of the Chippewa mine and we were able to finalize that and generate a large amount of tax benefits. The collection of those receivables we're expecting that the vast majority of that will come in over the next nine months fairly steadily and it will come in chunks. But we think it will be kind of over that nine-month time frame. So, that's a good thing.

Also our cash was absorbed to some degree because of the increase in the revenues, obviously, and the increase in our trade AR. So we're expecting to continue to maintain a very strong cash balance and with our focus on the expense management and capital expenditures we expect the cash balance to -- even despite growth in working capital, we expect the cash balance will remain at the same levels or even higher going forward.

Chris Voie -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Okay, thanks for that. And then my second question. In the release, you mentioned some visibility for growth as 2021 progresses. Just curious if you could explain a little bit more? Whether you expect that to be from private companies or public E&Ps, where the growth is coming from maybe regionally as well and whether there's been any pricing improvement coming with that growth?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, the growth will come from a variety of different customers. We have both the public E&Ps and the privates that we have strong relationships with. We, obviously, have a large presence in West Texas, we think that will continue to be an area of improvement and I'll comment briefly on pricing and Jim can add some more to it. But we are seeing ourselves and hearing anecdotes of pricing improvements. We're going to remain disciplined. We certainly don't feel that -- not many people in the industry are in a position to aggressively increase pricing, but certainly we hear that there is discussion to make that happen. So we're very pleased with that. We're trying to play along. We're trying to be someone who is viewed as assisting and maintaining and having an upward pricing move. So that's one of the reasons our fleet count has remained steady. We don't want to deploy any more until we are able to get sufficient work at sufficient contributions. So it's -- again, so it's all about the discipline. We do think we do have some good even better visibility here early in 2020, especially given that the fourth quarter, we didn't see the normal slowdown. So we didn't have the slow ramp up in the first quarter. So we're pleased that we're off to a reasonable start, so we're expecting the first quarter to be -- the first quarter should continue to be strong, be able to generate some strong results. But we're going to -- we expect this is going to be more slow and steady than other upturns. So we're going to react to what we see and not get out of ourselves. So Jim, is there anything you want to add?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Chris, this is Jim. Not a whole lot except that our frac calendar has much less white space than it has in the past, much more visibility too, it's a mix of customers who tend to be more private companies and small publics. We have not -- the financials you see today don't have any pricing improvement in them, but we do have a lot of cases where other service providers have gone to customers for price increases, and now they're testing, they're doing price checks that doesn't yet translate into pricing improvement on the P&L, but it's an early good sign.

So that's where we think we are right now.

Chris Voie -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Okay, thank you. Very helpful.

Operator

Your next question comes from Stephen Gengaro with Stifel. Your line is open.

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning, gentlemen.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Stephen.

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Two things, one administrative if you don't mind giving us the segment revenue breakdown, that would be helpful. And then the second question kind of from a bigger picture perspective, if we assume that you're not going to see a whole lot of pricing over the next three or four quarters, any guidance on how we should think about incremental margin performance?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Stephen, this is Jim, let me answer the first one for you. So I am about to give percentages of revenue by our service lines for RPC consolidated for the fourth quarter. So pressure pumping is our largest service line at 39% consolidated revenues; our downhole tools and motors service business was the second largest at 31.5% of revenues; coiled tubing was the third at 9.4% of revenues. Following that, you have nitrogen which was 4.3% of revenues, rental tools, which is in support, but as a percent of total revenue was 41% of fourth quarter revenue and then it kind of drops off from there but snubbing was 1.8% of revenues in the fourth quarter. The second question?

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Great.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

And then on the incremental margin standpoint, again with what we're hearing in the market and some of the things that we've experienced directly, we expect there will be some price improvement, but I think absent that and who knows what the strength and timing of that will be, but I think typically looking back historically, in a normal sort of increasing revenue environment, incremental EBITDA margin improvements of 20% to 40% are normal. We are not at this point in time expecting, I may be repeating myself, but we don't expect this as a steady uphill shot with revenues. We're playing close to the best and again we want to remain disciplined. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We don't want to get busy to get busy and hopefully get price improvements later, we're trying to make sure that we have -- that we're winning work that is helping us move forward and not wait, not just working hard to wait for pricing improvement sometime down the road. That's kind of our objective currently.

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Very good. Thank you, gentlemen.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Connor Lynagh with Morgan Stanley, your line is open.

Connor Lynagh -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks. I was wondering if you could just dial in the first quarter expectations a little bit? I appreciate there is a lot of moving pieces and you don't want to get ahead of yourselves, but you've had two quarters of ballpark 30% revenue growth sequentially. Can you maybe help us understand, should we be thinking about sequential single-digit revenue growth, double digit, can it be anywhere close to what you've seen over the past couple of quarters? I'm just trying to make sure when you think think about the activity run rate leaving the year versus end of the third quarter.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So it's a valid question, we think that first quarter will be a little bit better than fourth quarter seasonally adjusted. So, as you know, we did -- the seasonal impact for fourth quarter was less pronounced this year than in 2020 than it usually is. We see a bit of continued improvement in Q1 but revenue growth might be in the high single digits. And keep in mind that we've got a couple of things going on. One is, as we've discussed, we don't see a lot of pricing improvement right now. Another one is that we've got five pressure pumping fleets in the field and they're fairly highly utilized at this point, so we can eliminate more white space in the calendar, but we've already done a lot of that. So we're fairly utilized in pressure pumping as well. Some of the other businesses can improve some, can grow some, weather is a little bit iffy at this point, it wasn't really an impact in the fourth quarter, but we still have a couple months of the winter left. So put all that together and maybe high single-digit revenue growth would be a way to think about it.

Connor Lynagh -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Yeah, that's very helpful. Maybe just a higher level one here. So generally speaking, the perception of RPC is maybe a bit of a bias toward smaller or private customers. I guess holding that to be true, you can correct me if that's wrong, but one thing that we've been wondering is certainly a lot's been made of the capital discipline argument on the larger public E&Ps but the wildcard is, of course, how much privates will choose to grow versus maybe there's some balance sheet repair required. And I appreciate we're talking about a large swap here, so maybe there is couple groups you want to discuss, but how would you characterize the desire of private or smaller public E&Ps to increase capital spending this year?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I can tell you that whether it's private or large or small E&Ps, we're certainly hearing from our customers also that they have ESG in mine and they want the right amount of equipment. They want equipment that they can feel that they need to have or want to have or will be able to say that they have out in location. So we responded to that, whether it was directly to that or in anticipation of that with some of the equipment that we added back in 2019, some of the Tier 4 equipment. So that's been desirable to our customers and that is working at a very high utilization level. We have converted some of our earlier tier equipment to dual fuel capacity and that effort continues, it's not significant investment but we're implementing those plans. And that also is desirable to all of our customers, big and small. So that is benefiting us and we think it will continue to give us additional capacity to meet those requirements going forward. So we are responding, we clearly did not announce or talk about that we're adding complete new fleets with newer technology. We believe it's -- for us it's too early to make that decision. We're hopeful that things will improve and the environment and, again, the pricing and the commitments from customers will improve to the point where that's an easy decision.

But right now, we are return focused and it's going to take some time to get back there. So as we said, we're going to remain disciplined in that regard.

Connor Lynagh -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks. I guess one of the points of the question is, if you can just expand on a little bit is just expectations for activity growth, sort of building on Chris' question, but maybe less in the near term is a sort of customer sentiment. We hear a lot, obviously, from the public E&Ps but if you look at sort of the smaller side of your customer book, do you think they'll be growing activity a lot over the next couple of quarters or a year or two here? What's your sort of thinking on the risk appetite from that group?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And so clearly that's a hard one. We do think that oil being over $50 is a nice psychological barrier to breakthrough not speaking of the financial returns, but we think that a sustained level above $50 has improved some activity. If you think back on it, not too longer the Strip [Phonetic] showed us not getting to $50 oil to 2030. So I think that's a nice surprise that may be -- [Indecipherable] of the smaller company, but really great questions. We don't have much more visibility.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Yes, the read through in terms of our comments otherwise are that we're not seeing things headed straight up, we don't have people knocking down our door saying, please come out and if you are on our calendar in May and June or whatever, I think everybody is trying to figure out COVID and recovery in commodity prices going forward. I think across the sector clearly there is more capital discipline on the E&Ps be it private or public. So at least anecdotally that's solving the equation, that's what we're seeing, because we are not expecting right now at this point to definitively have a significant addition to our fleet count until work comes to fruition, right, that it comes to us, that it's at a sufficient level that, yes, it will "pay us" back for putting that additional equipment out to work. So I would say that everybody across the industry is similarly disciplined.

Connor Lynagh -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Sure. Thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from Taylor Zurcher with Tudor Pickering Holt. Your line is open.

Taylor Zurcher -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

Hey, thank you. Ben, I want to kind of expand a little bit on your last response there. You talked about not reactivating any additional equipment, you seem to suggest that you wouldn't reactivate any additional equipment until pricing improved. Your fleet count stayed at five, it sounds like last quarter and that's where it's at today. So could you just help us understand to get into six, seven fleets out in the field, what you're looking for? Is it just pricing, is it some [Indecipherable]? Just help us understand that a little bit more.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Yes. I'd say it's -- obviously, with the work that we have across all of our service lines, some is better than others. We're trying to go after, obviously, the best work that we can get. Again, it's not all about getting busy, it's about generating sufficient returns. So that's what we're focused on. And so to get more fleets working, we'll have to the average of our work needs to be moving up, right? There are opportunities to drop out any customers that we may have -- or work that we may have taken on a few months ago that was marginal. We can -- there is always the opportunity to try to be selective. That's very difficult to do at many levels, but that's -- there are examples where we have done that and we'll continue to do that. So we'll have to have a sufficient portfolio of work before we put additional amounts of equipment to work, that we'll -- whatever you want to call it, unsack[Phonetic] or staff or whatever you want to call it, we have to have better call it pricing, call it job characteristics. We'll have to feel that the work we're doing is contributing sufficiently to our financial results that we're moving forward, right? That we're not just getting more busy and staying steady. We want to make progress with respect to our results.

Taylor Zurcher -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

Okay, fair enough. From a cash flow perspective, last call you talked about the goal of positive free cash flow for 2021 in the Q&A section of this call, it sounded like maintaining the cash balance in and around $80 million where it's at now is the goal for 2021. So should we read that to mean that the positive free cash flow target for 2021 is still intact absent some working capital bill that may happen as activity continues to trend higher?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, yes. And my comment was we would stay at least at the level of $80 million.

Taylor Zurcher -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

Okay, got it. Thanks, guys, that's it from me.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Thanks.

Operator

And your next question comes from John Daniel with Daniel Energy Partners. Your line is open.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

Hi, guys. Thank you for the detail. [Indecipherable] question here, but if you envision we're in a stable to slightly improving scenario from an activity standpoint, where OFS pricing gains are a bit elusive, is this the year we finally see the industry come together and consolidate within the OFS sector? Whether you choose to [Indecipherable] or not, just share your thoughts on that?

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

And it's Ben, certainly there was a lot of discussion about that last year when everyone was highly uncertain about whether we would get back to the point that where we are right now. I think there is clearly that's always a possibility, the ability to take out cost will -- it can help the industry, it can help individual companies, but I wouldn't doubt that there could be, might be some consolidation. But today, I would say it's less critical than it was six months ago. So I wouldn't be surprised if it happened but not shocked if it continues to be sort of slow ground, it takes some additional time for those types of transactions to happen.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

Okay. So you've seen a step change increase in deals being pitched to you or no?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So recently probably not as many.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

Okay.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I think people are -- many people have either gone bankrupt or gone quiet or whatever. I think it's a little quieter now, it was certainly mid and from June, November last year was certainly quite active, but not as much right now.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

No, I guess the question is, you see companies that the restructuring creditors become owners, do they really want to sit down and run the thing or not?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

[Indecipherable] And John, this is Jim. Valuations would not be compelling if everybody is trading it around book [Indecipherable].

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I assure you the flip side is no one's really making any money. And to your earlier point, you need to take cost out of the business and it's too fragmented such that we can't get pricing. Just for kind of stating the obvious, something needs to happen.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

And input costs, Jim, as we talked [Indecipherable] asset cost, trucking costs were all driven up fairly sharply recently, are you able to pass that through right now to customers? Can you just walk us through what you're seeing from input costs?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Yeah. So we are seeing -- we've started to see or know well what's coming. And that would be price increases for some of the -- some grades of sand that type of thing. Increased utilization brings with it increased maintenance expense. And it is possible that component costs will increase a little bit. So it's a management issue, we have to go to the customer and say, our costs are increasing. It's a management issue, you have to do that. We're historically pretty good at doing it, but we also think that on supply and demand, we're in a position right now where we can do that. Back to our earlier comment that people are at least testing. You can -- to be able to go to a customer and say, look my input costs are increasing and you can see that because you're buying sand too. Our customers now know a lot more because of what they've been doing with logistics, so we think we can, it's certainly our goal.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

Got it. Okay, thank you. And just a housekeeping, and I missed the other comment on 2020 capex total that was.

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

For 2021?

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

No, for 2020. I got 2021, I missed 2020.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

It was $12.8 million, I believe, for the quarter and for the year, $65 million.

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

All right, guys. Thanks for helping me out.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Thanks, John. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from Blake Gendron with Wolfe Research. Your line is open.

Blake Gendron -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks. Good morning, guys. Want to dig into the upgrades that you mentioned. Appreciate you're approaching 2021 with capital conservatism here, but can you just walk us through the economics of the dual fuel upgrade and in the context of one of your Permian peers having announced a new build, a DGB new build, that meaningfully lower pricing than we had thought maybe for new builds. Is there a way that we should think about new build costs today versus what we thought about it, say, a year and a half or two years ago? And is that a pretty low threshold to upgrade this equipment from a capital perspective?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Hey, Blake, this is Jim. We can't really speak to new build costs because we aren't doing anything. So we can't tell you whether component costs or equipment costs are lower or higher or where that is. So sorry. Regarding dual fuel fleets, we have completed an upgrade of a dual fuel fleet and we are planning to do another one during first quarter. We think the economics on that one -- on that proposition are pretty good because upgrading an existing diesel fleet to dual fuel doesn't cost all that much and it allows you to win work that you might not have won as owners[Phonetic]. So it is an increased capital cost for let's just say for the sake of argument at the same pricing and utilization. But it does get the utilization for you and it's a good idea, it's a development in the industry. So we want to do it. In terms of e-fleets, it just seems too expensive. We just don't like being in the situation where we give our customers faulty efficiencies that we spend money to getting important. So that would have to change before we did something there.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

And our team, now this is Ben, our team is looking at the various alternatives that are available in the industry. So we are -- and I can say we're actively running the numbers, right, because you know it's what the futures going to be hold, but we know kind of what the contribution margins are now and we have an idea that what it would take based on the technology and how it runs and with some assumed cost. But we're -- as we indicated earlier, we're ways from making a commitment for expanding our work, because when we do that, the other equipment is available and we do have some other equipment that we think is also convertible to dual fuel that would further expand our capacity of equipment that is desirable by many of our customers.

Blake Gendron -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Yeah, that's totally fair. I appreciate that detail. Want to dig into the sand commentary, is this transitory or do you think that we've found a structural bottom in sand pricing? And then could you may be fine-tune it with respect to Northern White versus In-Basin? I would assume In-Basin supply is fairly elastic. So if there is any tightness there? Perhaps, it's not as structural and not as longer term a theme here with coming quarters.

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Blake, Jim again. We don't know of any price increases for In-Basin sand, let's remember that drilling and completion activity remains historically low. So there's plenty of supply there and I can't quote any grades for you of Northern White that might be increasing in price. But a lot of sand mines have shut down up there. And so any increase in demand would result in price increases there. We don't think we talk to our operations people who don't see any secular shift back to Northern White Permian Basin, it's customer preference. And it depends on which customer wants what et cetera. So we don't see any real shifts in the market. Just probably a momentary price increase based on just pure intangible supply demand issues.

Blake Gendron -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Got it. That makes sense. One more if I could sneak it in. A lot are made of what's going on with the Biden administration and the federal lands moratorium and it's probably an overreaction that's playing out of the equities right now and there's certainly plenty of inventory through over the coming years. But just high-level conceptual question for you, if you saw the mix of activity maybe move away from the Permian and specifically the Delaware, New Mexico side to some of the other basins as E&Ps maybe rationalize the balance, would you say that that would be directionally positive or neutral or negative for your operations, not necessarily just frac but kind of everything in technical services.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Blake, it's a great question, it's hard to say, there would probably be some short-term friction as operators move away from the federal lands in New Mexico and that's what we're talking about here and there is certainly some, I won't say fear, but concern and some vigilance over what this might actually mean. We want to emphasize though that for the short term it's, at this point, a drilling permit moratorium. So wells which have been drilled, which we were going to complete in February, we will still complete, but certainly there is concern at least in our part of the world being in Mexico. But as we always say, our equipment has wheels, wheels on it and its activity is in the eastern part of the Permian and the Midland and in serving the Delaware, we can certainly work there too or in other areas. So probably a non-event unless you just see that short-term friction in the Midland.

Blake Gendron -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Yeah. That's totally fair. Appreciate the time, guys. Thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from Waqar Syed with ATB Capital Markets, your line is open.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thank you for taking my question. Good morning. What's your maintenance capex running per active fleet, or where do you expect it to be in 2021?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Waqar, this is Jim. We have that. It's, you know, at this point less than $1 million per fleet, it's somewhere in the $700,000 to $800,000 range per fleet.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

That's an annual number or a quarterly number?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

That will be annualized.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. You think that's sustainable or is that -- this is for the active fleet, right?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Yes. Is it sustainable? We don't know. It depends a lot on activity and job intensity. So it's probably going to move up from here I would say.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Is it low because you take some equipment off some of the stack equipment or is it lower because of something that's structural that's going on in the industry?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

This will be [Indecipherable] specific answer. As you know, we disposed of a lot of our fleet. The average age of our equipment is a lot lower today than it was a year and a half ago. So all other things equal, we've got newer equipment that operates more efficiently and doesn't need that much maintenance. Also, we have our own -- our 3,000 horsepower pumps, which -- certainly when they need something, it's expensive, but they run pretty well. So maintenance capex on that equipment is lower also and fourth quarter had some nice utilization, but let's not forget the previous utilization was a good bit lower. So it's a bunch from utilization and newer equipment for us but understand that there are a lot of variables in that maintenance capex number and it can really move around.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Fair enough. What's the average age of the five fleets that are working versus the other nine fleets I believe that are not working right now?

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Without giving a specific number, obviously, the larger pumps we bought in 2019 and they are heavily utilized. So the average age of the ones that are working there slightly lower, but there's not a -- the equipment that we disposed back in the third quarter of 2019, all of the equipment at that point in time other than the 3000s were [Indecipherable]. We're not using the newer non-3000 horsepower pumps. So they're all reasonably comfortable in that regard.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Fair enough. And then what would be the incremental cost were you to reactivate an additional fleet?

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Obviously, the well -- the first fleet that comes back will be lower, it could be --

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It's not significant. If the question is how much capex would be needed, it would not -- it should not be significant. And there may be -- obviously, hiring costs and training costs and things like that of new employees and things like that but the cost should be minimal.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

And after what number of fleet active, would it be like after you have eight fleets active then the costs start to go up or how many you could place in without significant incremental capital?

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Waqar, we don't know. We have a total of 12 or 13 fleets we could put in the field. We've done a lot over the past year and a half. So the last fleet that we put the durable[Phonetic] cost along was in the first fleet. But overall, it doesn't make a big economic impact difference. I'm sorry that's the very best I can give you.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Fair enough. And then just one last question, of your 728,000 hydraulic horsepower, what percentage would be kind of run by these Tier 4 engines?

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

So the Tier 4 equipment, we have two Tier 4 fleets right now out of five working fleets.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

And how many would be dual fuel total?

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Dual fuel, we will have at the end of the first quarter, and this is a separate an answer, a total of 50 dual fuel pumps at the end of first quarter.

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you very much. That's very helpful. Appreciate it.

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

All right, thanks, Waqar.

Operator

Your next question comes from Stephen Gengaro with Stifel. Your line is open.

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Thanks for taking the follow up. Waqar asked a lot of what I was going to hit on, but just one quick one, when you are in conversations with customers and you're talking about the dual fuel capabilities and you mentioned a little bit earlier as far as the value drive and the ability for people to get paid ultimately for e-fleets, et cetera. But when you bring a dual fuel fleet to the negotiations, how does that impact the pricing discussion? It seems like it clearly helps utilization right now. But is there anything on price yet or do you think that will evolve as we go through 2021?

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Stephen, this is Jim. It doesn't get you better pricing, it just gets you the job. So if I may employ a gambling term, it's just the table stakes increased a little bit and it's [Indecipherable].

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

And I think there are a couple of different -- to the extent if and when things began to tighten, I think it will have more of a pronounced difference. I think the -- at this point or up to this point, I think, as Jim said, I think it's had a little impact on pricing, you really need it for the most part to be in the gain but as the fleet across the industry tightens, it will become more important, I think you'll have some pricing power at that point.

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks, I appreciate all the color on the call today. Thanks, Jim.

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Thanks, Stephen.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] There are no further questions at this time, and I will now turn the call back to Jim Landers for closing remarks.

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Thank you and thanks everybody for listening today and for the questions as well. Good to talk to everyone, hope you have a good day and we will talk to you soon. Thanks.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 50 minutes

Call participants:

Jim Landers -- Vice President, Corporate Services

Richard A. Hubbell -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Ben M. Palmer -- Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary

Chris Voie -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Stephen Gengaro -- Stifel -- Analyst

Connor Lynagh -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Taylor Zurcher -- Tudor, Pickering, Holt -- Analyst

John Daniel -- Daniel Energy Partners -- Analyst

Blake Gendron -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Waqar Syed -- ATB Capital Markets -- Analyst

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