Schlumberger invests $75 million for long-life pressure pump

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | December 14, 2015

The typical time line before maintenance of a pump used in the pressure pumping process—known as hydraulic fracturing—is roughly 6,000 to 8,000 hours. For $75 million, Schlumberger has purchased the exclusive licensing rights to run a high-pressure pump that can run for roughly 50,000 hours before maintenance downtime. Created by California-based Energy Recovery Inc., the VorTeq pump could drastically impact the global energy service company’s approach to fracking and the coordination of its fleet and pumping requirements.

Earlier this year Energy Recovery worked with Liberty Oilfield Services to test the pump at the wellsite over a six-month trial. Now, thanks to those efforts, Energy Recovery has been able to prove its unique pump design. In addition to the $75 million Schlumberger will pay up front, the company will also pay annual royalties during the life of the 15-year contract and up to $50 million in 2016 if certain milestones are met.

“Harnessing pressure energy the way we have in our other technologies, our solution ratchets frack fluid up to the required treating pressure, as high as 15,000 psi, without requiring the high-pressure water pumps to handle sand,” said Joel Gay, president and CEO, when The Bakken magazine first spoke with the Energy Recovery team during its testing period. “This prevents the regular occurrence of pump failure, and has several immediate and profound impacts for operations, not the least of which is a dramatic reduction in maintenance.” The pump works by rerouting abrasive proppants away from the high pressure pumps to ensure only pure water touches the pump.

“For a company in this market who wants to keep producing but needs to be mindful of costs, this technology tackles these challenges and delivers meaningful results,” Gay said.