Improving Operations and Avoiding Methane Emissions: Interview with Paul Munding, Flogistix

What is your name and relationship to the oil industry?

My name is Paul Munding, and I am the Vice President of Petroleum Engineering at Flogistix. I have over 15 years of experience in the industry. Ten of those years were spent at Chesapeake, with three years in the reservoir department in the Permian Basin and seven years with completions and production duties across the Mid-Continent. I then worked at RKI/WPX, as the production engineering manager over the Delaware Basin asset. I joined the Flogistix team in April of 2016 to start a petroleum engineering department that helps operators focus on solutions using Flogistix equipment and expertise. Working in production over the last ten years, I have seen the need for advancements in production technology that can help the production engineer manage wells more efficiently. Flogistix has the technology to address a wide spectrum of production issue: unloading marginal gas wells, improving production of artificial lift methods, and vapor recovery.

What is the history of Flogistix, and how did it get involved in unconventional plays, including shale plays?

Flogistix acquired Fluid Compressor Partners in 2011. Fluid Compressor Partners had a history dating back to 1996 that included building liquid rings for the Raton Basin and Texas panhandle fields in the Hugoton Basin. In the 2000s, screw compressors gradually became the preference as greater discharge pressure could be achieved at the same suction as liquid rings. They introduced programmable logic controllers (PLC) to control gas engine drive compressors in 2007. In late 2009, Fluid Compressor began using screw compressors in vapor recovery applications. After acquiring Fluid Compressor, Flogistix invested knowledge in vapor recovery application technology. With this new knowledge, the PLC was tailored to control the compressor while measuring vapor amounts in ounces at the stock tank or vapor recovery tower (VRT).

With the advanced controls geared towards vapor recovery, Flogistix was a good fit for the capture of vapors associated with the Niobrara wells of the DJ Basin. This basin became very active by 2011, as more operators extended the play out in Weld County, Colorado. The Niobrara wells produce high gravity oil along with wet gas. The wet gas is composed of raw natural gas (primarily CH4) and natural gas liquids (NGL). These NGLs are the gaseous components consisting of ethane, propane, butane, pentane, and heavier molecular weight hydrocarbons (HC). Pentane and higher molecular HC are considered condensate. As the wells produce fluids to the surface, cooling takes place allowing the condensate components to drop out of the wet gas in primary separators at high pressure slightly above gathering line pressure. The condensate and oil will then often go to a vapor recovery tower or stock tank where pressure is near atmosphere, allowing gases to flash off the liquid as vapors. The gas vapors captured in these towers is very rich in NGLs, with as high as 3200 MBTU content observed per MCF. The gas flashed at low pressure is unable to get into the high pressure sales gathering line and this is where the Flogistix screw compressor is utilized. It will pull the vapors off of the VRT or stock tanks depending on the design of the facility and boost them into the sales line. Our compressors are a good fit for this application since they can pull towers down to ounces and can discharge as high as 365 psig. By year end of 2013, Flogistix had become the preferred vapor recovery vendor in the DJ Basin. Flogistix has now taken this knowledge achieved to apply to their installs in the other unconventional basins of the Eagleford, Permian, and Anadarko.

What kind of equipment does Flogistix specialize in, and how is it used in wells in shales and unconventionals?

Flogistix manufactures screw compressor packages primarily to fit vapor recovery and wellhead applications. In addition to vapor recovery, as explained earlier, the compressor can do multiple roles for wells by reducing flowing wellhead pressures. With unconventional wells this is often in the form of assisting artificial lift methods. This includes drawing the gas off of the casing to improve fluid flow up the Tbg in ESP and sucker rod applications. Downhole pumps are not meant to handle large amounts of gas and become very inefficient as gas percentage increases. By pulling the pressure on the casing down, it allows gas to vent up the casing annulus. The downhole pump can then ingest primarily fluid and increase production on the well. The life of the equipment is significantly improved and can mean the savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars in failed pump expenses due to gas handling. Flogistix recently set a compressor doing a casing drawdown of an ESP in the Anadarko basin. It was a success and the operator was able to prolong the life of their ESP equipment. Look for this case study to be published soon with more details.

Plunger lift is another form of lift that our compressors can be utilized to assist for unconventional WH applications. As unconventional gas wells decline, they lose bottomhole pressure and continue to need larger buildup of differential pressure across their casing and tubing string to raise a plunger to surface. By setting our compressor on the Tbg, we can lower the surface pressure that the plunger has to rise against and effectively reduce the differential pressure needed to make a trip. This in turn allows the plunger to make more trips per day. Through our own developed Logix PLC panel, the skid manages control of the compressor by monitoring the pressure upstream of the suction side. Flogisitix compressors have managed as many as four wells on one Pad in a plunger assist application. Operators in the DJ Basin have successfully used this process to achieve as high as 80% increases in production. One such operator has now made it a standard practice across the basin for their operations.

There are tough new methane emission standards. How does Flogistix equipment help prevent fugitive methane emissions?
Flogistix works with operators in planning their facilites from the beginning. This is an important step to make sure facilities are sized to handle not just daily production, but instantaneous slug rates at the vessels. Proper sizing of pipe and routing is also crucial to deliver the maximum obtainable capture of the flash gas. The flexibility of Flogistix equipment allows for vapor recovery and WH assist solutions for the life of a well. An operator can capture vapors over time at lower volumes of production by adjusting the control set point of the compressor on the Logix PLC. The VRT allows the operator to bring this setpoint down to two ounces and lower versus the six ounce minimum threshold on most stock tanks.

If a well has declined in flash gas volume to the point where spare capacity is available on the compressor, then the MultistreamTM function can be used on the Logix PLC to let the compressor collect gas from two different sources. For instance, an operator could begin to pull gas off of his csg to help his ESP as well as continue to capture vapors flashing off of their oil tanks, even at lower production rates. Despite these small rates, capturing fugitive emissions across thousands of wells can make up millions of cubic feet of gas, while also allowing the industry to be good stewards of the environment. Some operators choose to combust or flare their flash gas but improper operation of this equipment can lead to emissions of methane and VOCs, thus resulting in heavy fines. Proper operation of these control devices often gets overlooked with lease operators having multiple wells and lots of equipment to track. In the end, vapor recovery is the only solution that captures the energy rather than wasting it, while still keeping the regional air quality high for residents and animals.

What are some of Flogistix’s new capabilities and areas of opportunities for operators who have new and existing oil and gas production?

We have several new products within our company that have us very excited for operators. One is our composite coil tubing (CCT) service that we offer. This CCT can be installed in older wells that have loaded up as velocity strings. The beauty of the installation is it can be done in a day, at half the cost of conventional steel coil and without all of the corrosion issues. The coil can be run inside Tbg and then easily hung off in the Tbg head with an adapter. Flow can then be up the insided diameter of the CT or the annulus between it and the Tbg. Gas could also be injected down this annulus to provide lift assistance for the well. Flogistix has already done several of these successful operations for horizontal wells in the Marcellus Shale of West Virginia. Most of these wells are three to five years old and are loading up in the 250-600 MCFD rates, with 400 psig line pressure. This application can also be done in the Barnett where line pressures run between 100-150 psig, with wells starting to load in the 100 – 250 MCFD range.

The other new product that is about to launch for Flogistix, is our intelligent gas lift compressor. The reciprocating compressor will be controlled by our own Logix PLC. It will use information given by the well to calculate the necessary injection rate to achieve the minimum bottom hole pressure (BHP), resulting in maximum acheivable well production. The Logix PLC will obtain the injection rate by varying speed and throttling its own automated suction control valve, while monitoring its own gas injection meter. This will allow the compressor to achieve the injection rate at the most efficient setting to burn less fuel gas and save more money for the operator as well. This compressor skid like all others in the Flogistix fleet, will have its diagnostics available to be seen live on FLUX. With FLUX, a customer has a secure webpage to view all of their unit’s data live and up to the minute. All compressor data is stored for the length of the compressor set, allowing trends and predictive analysis be used to control the machine.

As one can see, Flogistix is always working to help operators look for new and cost effective ways to maximize their production and net revenue. We will work closely with any customer to develop and ensure our processes are as expected, and up to their standards.

Nash, Susan. “Improving Operations and Avoiding Methane Emissions: Interview with Paul Munding, Flogistix” Http://www.aapg.org. N.p., 24 July 2017. Web. 24 July 2017.

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