Innovations Across the Permian

Spanning nearly 75,000 square miles across 52 counties in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico, the Permian Basin has room to add innovations across the entire field.
By Luke Geiver | January 20, 2020

(This article is part of North American Shale Magazine's Permian Report)

Spanning nearly 75,000 square miles across 52 counties in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico, the Permian Basin has room to add innovations across the entire field. During the last two years, several technology providers both large and small, established or new, and known or unknown, have brought field-specific innovation to the Permian in the areas of water, roads, wells, hydraulic fracturing fleets, sand and even outer space.

New-Era Pumps
After a century relying on the same downhole artificial pump system, Veretek has brought a new approach to oilfield artificial pumping. The company has created and deployed a pump designed specifically to handle high sand concentrations and erratic gas slugs. In Q3 2019, Veretek reported record sales because of the V-pump. "Many of the artificial lift solutions available in the market today were not designed to pump the high sand concentrations and gas slugs common in today's oil wells.  Centrifugal ESPs use an antiquated design that hasn't changed materially in more than a hundred years and forces production fluids to take a complicated and tortuous flow path,” said Greg Hottle, CEO. The V-pump is a contra-helical screw pump used in the production of oil and gas. In addition to its unique design, the pump decreases the number of well interventions needed for a shale well’s first year of production. 

Produced Water Treatment
To help reduce costs associated with produced water, RWI Enhanced Evaporation unveiled a new technology that cuts the cost of produced water evaporation from $.20 cents per barrel to $.06/b. Designed from scratch and tested for two-and-a-half years at a 5-acre test site, the systems float on the evaporation pond and blow treated air and water droplets downward. 

Data Refinery
Already recognized as an innovative and needed company by the Governor of New Mexico, Descartes Labs has gone to outer space to help with methane emissions monitoring. Descartes Labs uses a Sentinel-5P satellite, for now, to measure emissions from space. The satellite data is combined with other sources of information to form a data refinery. In the next two years, satellites with higher resolution capture ability will become available and Descartes Labs plans to add them to their fleet. 

Satellites Watching Water

For every barrel of oil produced in the Permian Basin, there are more than ten barrels of associated water that are sourced, recycled, transported and disposed of, according to Joshua Adler, CEO of Sourcewater. Adler has developed an oilfield water intelligence survey that utilizes proprietary satellite imagery analytics, government databases, market research and internet of things sensors that generate insights on oilfield water markets.

Sci-Fi Fluids

With Countertrace LLC’s new macroparticle, hydraulic fracturing fluids can be better optimized. The company developed a patent-pending polymer macroparticle that can be programmed to identify and selectively contain contaminants from complex fluids before they are reused or disposed of. Reusable macroparticle spheres, sized 1 mm to 10 mm in diameter, are covered in receptors that bind the targeted contaminant, signal the acquisition of the target via a color changing sensor and then is easily filtered for reclamation. This technology reduces the amount of chemicals and water needed in the extraction process.

Flare-To-Power

Calgary-based Certarus Ltd. is bringing its virtual natural gas pipeline to West Texas shale country. The company announced plans to deploy a flare gas capture process used to power an electric hydraulic fracturing operation in the Delaware and Midland Basins with a multi-national American supermajor not yet disclosed. Certarus has been operating a system that captures, compresses and reutilizes natural gas streams throughout Canada.

 

Electrified Fleet
Evolution Well Services is one of many electric frack fleet providers heading to the Permian. Evolution’s multi-patented electric fracturing fleets are powered by a proprietary, built-for-purpose natural-gas-burning turbine generator package, which is designed and packaged by its affiliate, Dynamis Power Solutions. The company has already started working with a major E&P on a 30-month contract. 

VR On The Road
Virtual reality simulators could be the key to maintaining oil and gas production in some of North America’s most prolific—and truck-dependent—shale plays. In the Permian, a play short roughly 4,000 truck drivers, virtual reality is now used to mimic training seen in the aviation industry. Many Permian drivers now receive a textbook, on-the-road instruction and simulator access. 

Direct Air Capture

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures LLC, is using direct air capture sequestration technology to capture and store CO2 from the air into the ground permanently. Working with Carbon Engineering, the duo intends to build a plant in the Permian. The proposed project will start with one DAC plant that captures 500 kilotonnes of atmospheric CO2 per year and is expected to expand to include multiple DAC plants, each capable of capturing one megatonne of atmospheric CO2 annually.

Blockchain
Blockchain, a technology used to secure and provide accurate data logs, is now in the Permian. Data Gumbo Corp., a Houston firm, has deployed what it calls the GumboNet for a water midstream firm. The blockchain-based tech is used to help handlers, users, disposal services and others maintain transparency of records for contracts and volume updates on the water system. 

Treated Sand Plants
Hexion has brought new frack sand and new frack sand treatment and handling tech to the Permian. Working with Black Mountain Sand, Hexion has brought a resin-coated sand product to the field. A mobile resin coating service was added to give remote well sites a closer option for unique sand products. The system can treat several tons of sand and can be moved if necessary. PR