Compact Compression the Energy Excellence Award champion for production innovation

Image: Compact Compression

The Daily Oil Bulletin’s first annual Energy Excellence Awards were held in Calgary on Thursday, May 2. Awards were handed out in 12 categories under the banners of: Operational and Project Excellence, Innovation and Researching Excellence, and Exporting Excellence.

We are profiling the champions in each of the 12 subcategories. Today’s instalment profiles the champion in Production Innovation and Research.

Click here to read about all of the champions and finalists.

No-hassle casing gas compression

A downturn in natural gas prices and a chance conversation with a customer set a new course for a service company that saw its fate as “innovate or die” — an enterprising change of course that won the company the top award for Innovation and Research Excellence in Production.

Compact Compression Inc. (CCI), had built hundreds of portable gas compression trailers for the gas well boosting market in order to produce the last remaining gas from end-of-life wells. Virtually overnight, that market disappeared in 2009 when natural gas prices sharply declined, and has yet to recover.

Fortunately, oil prices have not experienced nearly the same sustained level of price declines as gas and CCI decided to target the oil production market. Sparked by a conversation with a customer who asked if CCI could build casing gas compressors similar to what other suppliers were providing, the company conceptualized, engineered and developed in-house its hydraulic casing gas compressor (HCG). Key to its success was to take a clean-sheet approach to the challenge in directly addressing its customers’ needs.

The challenge was to reduce gas pressure in the casing annulus to increase oil production from wells. Increased regulation for methane emissions has curtailed the practice of venting the casing annulus to atmosphere.

Over the years, several technologies have been adapted to compress the casing gas into the production flowline, but the theory behind those solutions rarely stood up in practice, with inconsistent performance, poor capacity control, frequent breakdowns and high maintenance costs.

CCI’s solution was to apply both new technology and a new business model to the problem. Firstly, it created a fit-for-purpose, simple and reliable, electric-over-hydraulic reciprocating compressor easily configurable for a wide range of pressures and volumes. For sites with no available power, a natural gas engine-over-hydraulic option was developed.

The HCG is capable of 100 per cent turndown, able to handle multiphase flow, compatible with sweet or sour gas, has a small footprint, operates independently of the artificial lift system and has no troublesome process valves or vessels.

The HCG excels in boosting oil production from wells in low-pressure reservoirs with moderate to high gas-oil ratio, oil cut and inflow. By relieving the gas pressure from the annulus, liquid level in the well rises and the downhole pumping rate can be increased to produce more liquid from the well. The HCG does this reliably with over 99 per cent uptime, the company said.

Secondly, CCI developed a no-hassle, all-inclusive, fixed-rate service plan that provides cost savings and cost certainty for the ongoing maintenance of the equipment.

When considering a population of casing gas compressors, the annual cost of the fixed-rate plan is significantly less than annual maintenance cost for other types of casing gas compressors, said CCI, as a direct result of the fit-for-purpose design and the company’s use of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled predictive analytics, rather than a fixed interval schedule, that enables demand-based service.

Under the fixed-rate service plan, CCI technicians take care of all equipment repair, maintenance, parts and travel, no matter the cause. The all-inclusive aspect of the plan strongly drives CCI, in partnership with its customers, to make continuous improvements to the equipment and field processes to increase reliability and uptime, the company noted.

Upgrades that enhance reliability are implemented at no additional cost to the customer, recognizing that these improvements drive servicing costs down. Moving equipment between sites and configuration changes to better match compressor performance to well deliverability is included in the plan as well.

With increased reliability and IoT-enabled predictive maintenance, trips to the wellsite to service the equipment are reduced by at least 50 per cent. By integrating equipment and service into one complete package, the HCG makes no-hassle casing gas compression a reality, CCI said.

Results include increased oil production and reduced methane emissions, reduced exposure to driving risk, and best-in-class compressor uptime and maintenance costs.

CCI worked closely with several customers during initial field-testing and implementation of HCG technology to test the real-world performance across a wide range of rates, pressures and liquid fractions. Customers helped define performance expectations and criteria for success, which included reduced casing annulus pressure, less operator intervention required, increased uptime and lower cost of ownership compared to other systems.

The company’s customers appreciate having less risk on the road and at the wellsite due to the HCG’s superior uptime and predictive maintenance, as well as ease of achieving compliance with methane emissions directives, CCI said.

The HCG product line has generated enough revenue and profitability to sustain a staff of 35 employees in manufacturing, field service, engineering and administration, while CCI has managed to capture a significant portion of the Canadian casing gas compression market in a short amount of time.

Click here to read about all of the champions and finalists.

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