Tag Archives: oil and gas industry

2017 at Southwest Process Controls

In our 2016 recap, we gave you the lowdown on our company and its place in the constantly changing oil and gas industry. Now, with the New Year upon us, we’re looking ahead to what 2017 will hold for Southwest Process Controls.

Looking Forward as 2017 Begins

The start of a brand new year and business cycle holds an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments and set new goals and objectives while continuing to do what worked well last year.

As always, our company aim is to provide customers with excellence in both quality fluid system control products and customer service. Our vast inventory includes tube fittings, tubing, pipe fittings, ball and plug valves, gauges, hoses, clamps, and more. They come in a range of configurations, sizes, and materials, dependent upon your needs.

The Southwest Process Controls team also will maintain presence at conferences for the oil and gas, petroleum, and petrochemical industries. These live events provide a great way to build business connections, learn industry trends, and discover the latest technologies – all of which benefit the products and service we provide to you.

Keep an Eye Out for what is to Come

The year ahead promises to bring new business opportunities, making for a proactive 2017. The New Year is reason enough for us to highlight our everyday resolution: to ensure our commitment to provide the best customer service possible. Our mission is for industry members to seek us as their top-performing vendor for fluid system control products we provide within the field and growing range of businesses.

As developments unfold during the year, here at Southwest Process Controls and throughout our related industries, we will keep you abreast of the latest information and resulting benefits for our client base. Follow us on both Twitter and LinkedIn for those updates and may 2017 be bright and prosperous for each and every one of you!

Diving Back Through 2016

As we look back over the past 12 months, the year was full of ups and downs in the oil and gas industry and the global markets. For us, business was brisk as our products support a wide range of processes and applications. We’ve used our blog to share with you important topics and look forward to sharing the year’s highlights.

Since the oil and gas industry is subject to internal and external forces, we shared with you the latest industry concerns, trends, and updates. The industry is complicated. As a commodity crude oil is complex and understanding how the markets set oil prices is an important factor. Differentiating Crude Prices: Brent and WTI, The Future of a Benchmark, and The Economic Effects of Falling Oil Prices explain the variables. The crude industry also struggles with storing and delivering crude oil. This capacity and storage issue is ongoing.

Because of the volatility in the oil markets, many of the oil producing regions of the country saw a shift in production throughout the year. In response, we kept you up-to-date on the workings at Eagle Ford, the Permian Basin, and the Delaware Basin. Global concerns also affect the industry and just as we were starting to see a recovery and rise in prices, the UK voted to leave the EU. This was the topic of our July blog and it remains to be seen if Brexit has lasting effect on global oil prices.

Highlighting the potential of environmentally friendly compressed natural gas was coincided with April’s celebration of Earth Day. And as of recent, reviewing the petrochemical industry helped us to expand on an integral part of the petroleum industry.

We’d like to thank all of you for a very successful 2016 and are looking forward to continuing to serve you in 2017. From all of us at Southwest Process Control, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!

Interested in learning more? Follow the Southwest Process Controls’ team on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Efficiency in Oil and Gas Operation: Drilling Techniques

The surge of oil and gas from America’s shale rock regions has been big news for years.  Shale formations in North Dakota, Texas, and other locations have been a vital source for hydrocarbons, heavily influencing the economy and the price of oil worldwide.  Having a viable source of plentiful oil and natural gas is obviously an essential element in this; however, there are many other factors that also have made these wells so productive.  One of the most important of all is efficient operations.  Scientists and engineers are working all the time to discover the best ways to extract oil and gas at the highest levels of efficiency.  Using the most efficient techniques has played a significant role in the current oil boom, and promises to continue to increase productivity even more in the future.

Oil DrillingOne area that has seen major advances in recent years is the process of drilling.  Efficient drilling has made a great contribution to increased production of oil and natural gas.  A number of different drilling techniques have played a part in reinvigorating America’s reserves of petroleum, allowing the extraction of oil and gas that was previously considered inaccessible.  Some of the more advanced drilling techniques employed today include horizontal, multilateral, extended reach, and complex path drilling.  These techniques, along with increased speed and better technology, make advanced drilling an important tool for the most efficient retrieval of oil and gas.

In earlier times, drills needed to be extracted and adjusted above ground if any changes in drilling direction were needed.  Today, drill bits can actually change direction while underground, reducing the amount of time needed to drill by up to 40%.  Horizontal drilling, the basis of hydraulic fracturing, employs this technique.  Drills begin by creating vertical wells, and then turn horizontal within reservoir rock formations to access more oil.  Another technique is multilateral drilling.  This method allows for drilling to occur in multiple separate layers at different depths underground.  Multilateral drilling not only increases production from a single well, but also reduces the number of wells needed to be drilled from the surface.

Extended reach drilling is another technique that maximizes efficiency.  This allows producers to reach hydrocarbon deposits that are located far away from the drilling rig.  Deposits can be reached over 5 miles from the surface location of the well.  Drilling can occur in environmentally sensitive or under-developed areas by using this technique.  Surface drilling in these areas is minimized by the ability to drill dozens of underground wells from a single location.  Another similar method is complex path drilling.  This technique creates paths with multiple twists and turns underground, allowing wells to reach multiple hydrocarbon deposits from a single well location.  Extended reach and complex path drilling methods help provide the highest levels of efficiency by keeping surface impacts to a minimum and producing far less waste.

These drilling technologies and techniques have had a major impact on well productivity.  For example, drilling efficiency has been cited as a key factor in the boom of oil and natural gas production that has occurred in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions in recent years.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) regularly publishes the Drilling Productivity Report (DPR).  Throughout the past several years, analysis has found that efficient drilling practices have caused impressive increases in the production of both oil and natural gas.  The EIA estimates drilling efficiency by tracking the number of rigs in play as well as the new wells that have been started each month.  From 2007 to 2013 alone, Eagle Ford productivity increased from far below 100 barrels per day to over 300 for the first full month’s production per well.  It has continued to increase since then, with current new-well oil production per rig estimated at 680 barrels per day for April alone, up 20 barrels from the previous month.

Advanced drilling techniques have played a large part in turning regions that were considered tapped out into significant sources of oil and gas.  By employing these efficient methods, operators have increased productivity while helping to lessen the impact on the environment.  The subsequent increases in productivity have helped radically increase domestic oil supplies, making the USA a world leader in petroleum production.

Efficiency in Oil Production

As the price of crude oil continues to drop, the uncertainty about when it will recover only seems to increase.  Experts continue to look for signs of what the future holds; however, at the moment, they only seem to remain stuck guessing at where prices will eventually bottom out.  While this uncertainty continues, one thing remains clear: lower oil prices mean that operational efficiency in the oil and gas industry is more important than ever.  In our previous article, Oil Production Efficiencywe explored the evolution of drilling and its influence on efficient oil and natural gas extraction.  We will continue in this vein by examining other methods of operational efficiency, especially during production.  Maintaining efficient production methods ultimately helps improve profitability, which is especially important while oil prices remain low.

Certain studies cited by the Bain Group have indicated that over 10% of production capacity can be improved by making operations more efficient.  Additional challenges need to be addressed as well.  Regulations in the field are becoming increasingly complex; at the same time, regulators continue to become more and more proactive.  The boom in oil production is spurring the expectations of shareholders to rise as well.  Production must meet the highest levels of compliance while operating at maximum levels of profitability.  The key to satisfying these multiple demands lies in a combination of using the best available technology with the most efficient production practices.

The shale oil reserves that are the core of America’s current resurgence of oil and gas are considered unconventional resources, and as such pose unique operational challenges.  While new methods of extracting oil and gas have re-invigorated the industry, capture costs for these methods are much higher than for traditional oil wells.  Oil companies need to employ the most reliable components and technologies, all the while ensuring that their operations are being held to the most stringent industrial and government standards.

One method of maintaining the highest standards of efficiency lies in getting the most out of each drilled well.  The conventional wisdom of extracting oil has often relied on drilling new wells as soon as assets degrade, but are still not totally depleted.  This method is not only a waste of existing resources, but often results in areas becoming over drilled.  There are many difficulties that arise from over drilling oil shales, including well interference.  Well locations that are too close together end up essentially stealing oil from each other.  This practice not only decreases production, but in some cases makes wells entirely non-viable commercially.

Maximizing efficiency for each well helps operators get the most for their money while minimizing environmental impacts.  There are a number of factors which can assist in this endeavor.  Oil companies can commit to using the best components, including fittings, valves, gauges, and temperature control products.  Using best-in-class products will elevate performance levels while helping companies fulfill the highest industrial and governmental standards.

Oil and gas extraction has also been the focus of all types of efficiency-enhancing technology.  A number of advanced innovations have been achieved as of late.  For example, new energy efficient technologies include combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to power (WHP).  CHP and WHP help reduce energy costs, improve reliability, and increase efficiency by harnessing spent heat for power production.  Petroleum refining, pipeline compressing, natural gas distillation, and oil recovery operations use a great deal of energy.  Innovative technologies such as CHP and WHP can harness energy which is otherwise wasted to produce power with no additional combustion or CO₂ emissions.  Solutions such as these help oil and gas producers save money and decrease their carbon footprint all at the same time.

Other technologies that are being developed to promote sustainable business practices while making operations as efficient as possible include crack detection.  Unexpected spills can be prevented before leaks occur by employing predictive maintenance devices.  Real-time data can be collected from wells without the need of direct visual inspection.  These devices keep extraction occurring at optimal levels while ensuring costly and environmentally damaging cracks are detected before leaking occurs.

Efficiency in oil and gas production is achieved at all different levels, from the careful selection of drilling sites to the most advanced equipment and latest technologies.  It is essential for operators to be functioning at the highest levels of efficiency possible, especially given the unpredictable nature of oil prices at present.  By partnering with the best quality suppliers and employing the most efficient production methods, oil and gas operators can maximize their profits even while petroleum prices remain low.

Oil R&D — New Innovations

Bio fuel dropPreviously, we discussed the importance of research and development (R&D) for petroleum–both for the future of the energy industry and to ensure growth and prosperity for the earth’s growing population.  R&D in the oil industry is often performed onsite in working rigs, but sometimes significant innovations can be achieved without ever leaving the laboratory.  Researchers working for the University of Minnesota have discovered that sometimes the most important instrument for discovering better methods of petroleum processing is simply a computer.

It is possible, however, that “simply” is the wrong word.  The computer these researchers used is one of the world’s largest supercomputers. Its use in the laboratory was able to vastly compress the amount of time and research that would normally be required for this type of endeavor.  The project centered on materials known as zeolites.  Zeolites are used by petrochemical refineries for a number of important purposes, including sorting, trapping, and filtering certain chemical compounds.  They also help to upgrade and produce fuel feedstock from petroleum-based resources by catalyzing chemical reactions.  Finding which zeolites work best is essential to the process of improving petrochemical processes and making them more efficient.  Existing zeolites number around 200, with hundreds of thousands of possible zeolite variations.

With the number of possibilities available, finding the best zeolite match can be difficult.  Synthesizing a zeolite in a lab setting has previously been considered nearly impossible.  It could take many months to create zeolites, and the analysis of all the known and predicted structures of this material could take decades.  However, analyzing these types of scenarios is one of the great strengths of advanced technology.  Researchers developed a complex screening process on the supercomputer which allowed them to view thousands of zeolite computer simulations.  This process required some of the most advanced computer applications available.  Evaluating the most effective zeolites demanded high performance computing, along with the most efficient algorithms and accurate descriptions.  The supercomputer, called Mira, had close to 800,000 processors.  Utilizing the full range of this computer yielded some very important findings.  Zeolites were discovered that could help solve significant oil processing problems.  One of these findings identified materials that helped upgrade petroleum compounds into lubricant and diesel products with higher value. Oil Production

Using the latest in processing technology, researchers were able to accomplish amazing results.  They identified the best zeolite patterns for numerous specific applications, compressing many years of research done on a single-processor computer to just one day using the supercomputer.  These new zeolites perform an important task.  They exhibit frameworks that improve the dewaxing process, which puts into effect the transformation of linear long-chain molecules into slightly branched hydrocarbon molecules.  These branched molecules, known as alkanes, affect the viscosity and pour point of petroleum products.  This provides for dramatically improved petroleum products, increasing efficiency and value.

Finding the best catalysts and sorbents during the process of creating petroleum has long been a difficult problem.  R&D of this kind is helping to overcome these difficulties with high tech alternatives.  While the future of oil prices remains uncertain, the quality and efficiency of oil is being vastly improved by sophisticated technology and innovative research.



Oil R&D – A Key to Future Energy Supplies

gas pipelineWhile the price of oil continues to fluctuate and cause a great deal of speculation about its effect on the economy, one thing remains certain.  The demands for energy over the long term are only going to grow.  As of the current day, the world’s population stands at over 7 billion, with estimates by the United States Census Bureau and the United Nations predicting 8 billion by 2030, 9 billion by 2040, and possibly 11 billion by 2050.  In order to maintain economic growth in our growing worldwide populations, adequate and affordable energy must be available.  The best way to keep energy supplies at acceptable levels is by an increase in research and development (R&D).

Organizations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) predict that as populations and economies continue to grow, so will the global demand for energy.  While leaders in all related disciplines agree that relying on better diversified sources for energy is a laudable goal, fossil fuels will remain the world’s primary energy source—at least for the foreseeable future.  Using current trends as a model, the IEA predicts that more than 80% of the world’s short- and mid-term energy supplies will come from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal.  Increased R&D in these areas is vital to accessing the world’s deposits of these energy sources.

Technological innovation is paramount to accessing oil and other fuels.  Many oil and gas reservoirs exist in harsh environments, while others require advanced techniques and new approaches to access.  Many different disciplines need to be employed in order to create the most efficient production methods.  These include biosciences and chemistry, as well as mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering.  The level of R&D necessary to ensure that future populations have adequate levels of energy will require the collaboration of many different agencies.  Members of the energy industry, academia, and government programs will need to work together to meet the complex technical demands in accessing fossil fuels, both at home and abroad.

Oil fieldWhat’s the most compelling reason to invest in R&D for the energy industry?  The fact that it works.  One of the most significant sources of unconventional hydrocarbon is oil shale, and the vast majority of the world’s oil shale resides in the United States.  In 2004, Chevron and Los Alamos National Laboratory worked together to study the recovery of hydrocarbons from oil shale in Colorado.  Companies like Shell Corporation had also been researching this area for many years.  The information garnered from these and similar studies were instrumental in redeveloping areas such as the Permian Basin in Texas.  Hydraulic Fracturing, combined with underground horizontal drilling, allowed drillers to extract oil from areas that had previously been inaccessible.  The result was one of the biggest oil booms in recent memory.  Not only did this put the Permian Basin back into the limelight of US oil production, but it also helped America earn the status of the world’s number one oil producer.

While the achievements in the Permian Basin are impressive, there is still much work that remains to be done.  R&D is not only required to find new sources of fuel, but also to create the most efficient drilling methods possible while keeping environmental impacts to a minimum.  It is essential that academic, government, and industrial scientists pool their resources in order to face these ongoing challenges.  By pursuing energy R&D research, these sources can help ensure that current and future generations will have access to the energy they require, ensuring economic growth and better quality of life all around the world.







Oil and Gas Industry

Texas_highlighting_the_Permian_BasinWith the constant stream of news that warns about the United States’ reliance on foreign oil and natural gas, it may be surprising to some to learn that America’s domestic oil and gas production is enjoying a revival.  The Permian Basin, located in the western part of Texas and the southeastern part of New Mexico, are the scene of an increase in oil production that the industry hasn’t seen in nearly 30 years.  It is having an extraordinary impact on the economy of Midland Texas and is contributing to the economy of the rest of the country as well.

Professor Bradley Ewing of Texas Tech recently published a report entitled “The Economic Impact of the Permian Basin’s Oil and Gas Industry.”  Nearly a year in the making, this report relays some impressive numbers from the oil production that is occurring in the area.  Throughout 2013, the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin has sustained over 546,000 jobs.  Furthermore, it has had an economic output of 137.8 billion dollars while contributing more than 71.1 billion dollars to Texas’ and New Mexico’s gross state products.  The Permian Basin also currently maintains the largest rig count of any oil-producing area in the world. The oil and gas being produced in this region, about 80 to 90% of which is based in Texas, is being produced in very impressive numbers.  The Permian Basin, along with Eagle Ford Shale, has contributed to production numbers that topped 3 million barrels per day from Texas in June alone.

What’s made this all possible is new drilling technology that 10 years ago was science fiction. Drilling oil wells used to be limited to a straight hole, made by a stationary rig. However, new methods have been developed to allow drilling in virtually any direction the operators see fit. This enables the drill head to follow a predetermined or changeable course. This control is possible by the use of an array of advanced sensors on the drill string. During drilling operations, the information from these sensors is transferred through fiber optic cables and processed by a supercomputer. The information collected creates a detailed view of the subterranean environment which allow for the recovery of oil and gas thousands of feet down. This technology has allowed Texas oil and gas wells to reach a depth of over 4,000 feet and growing. In fact, this same technology has also allowed for deep water drilling to reach over 40,000 feet.

Another technological advancement is the design of the rig itself. In the past moving a land based rig was a large construction project, involving much time and labor. However, newer systems have the ability to “walk” and begin drilling in a new location.

The oil and gas industry is the epitome of continuous improvement As technological advancements continue to change the industry, Southwest Process Controls, will continue to provide it with cutting products and unmatched customer service.

Roseland Texas Showdown Oil and Gas Expo

Humber_Bank_Oil_and_Gas_Facilities_-_geograph.org.uk_-_863644For companies in the oil and gas industry, one of the great learning and networking opportunities is just around the corner.  Roseland’s Texas Showdown Oil and Gas Expo is occurring on August 13th and 14th  at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.  Attendees will be able to escape the August heat while learning cutting edge information from some of the most important leaders in the industry.  Roseland’s Texas Showdown is not just a maze of booths, but an invaluable source of potential business partners and great minds who are moving the industry forward.

A whole slew of top quality exhibitors will be in attendance, many of whom are in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale.  A distinguished variety of speakers will be there as well.  Douglas Coleman, the Vice President of New Ventures at Prism Midstream, will speak addressing the resurgence of gas processing in the Permian Basin.  The role of technology in the field will be addressed by Atanu Basu, the CEO and president of AYATA, in his talk on proprietary big data prescriptive software for oil and gas.  Also covering similar ground will be Alex Warner, the founder and CEO of Pedigree Technologies in Fargo, North Dakota.  Mr. Warner will speak on how technology and automation are affecting overall energy operations.  The importance of the Texas oil and gas market will be explored by Bill Fairhurst, the Vice President of exploration at Eagle Oil & Gas in Dallas.

A number of important government representatives will be attending as well.  U.S. Congressman Roger Williams will be there, addressing the topic of railroad, pipelines, and hazardous materials.  Texas State Senator Dan Patrick and Texas Rail Road Commissioner David Porter will also be keynote speakers.  Ken Becker, the executive director for Sweetwater Economic Development, will be speaking as well.  These speakers cover just a few of the many top industry specialists and government officials who will be sharing their insight and wisdom.

No gathering of this size should be for business, only.  That’s why Roseland’s Texas Showdown will include important members of the sports industry and East Texas charities.  Members of the Texas Rangers will be in attendance, as well as representatives of the Dallas Cowboys.  A very special organization will be represented as well: Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge.  Tiger Creek is the home of over 50 rescued big cats.  They provide rescue and rehabilitation to large felines that have been the victim of abuse, neglect, or displacement.  Tiger Creek offers a large, natural setting to help save tigers and other large cats, and is open to the public for educational opportunities benefitting people of every age and walk of life.

Finally, while you’re here, don’t forget to stop and visit our booth at Southwest Process Controls.  We will be exhibiting with Hylok USA and available to provide information about all of our fluid system control products.  We specialize in products for the oil and gas industry, and have some of the highest quality instruments available in the industry.  Join us at the Roseland Texas Showdown for what will truly be an oil show like no other.