no emissions dehydrator webinar

Roundtable | No Emissions Dehydration

Introduction

Cameron Croft:

Well, it's 11:00, so we're going to get this webinar started. So, appreciate everyone joining us today. We actually have quite a few people that have signed up in being a part of it.

Cameron Croft:

This is going to be our webinar on New Emissions Dehydration or New Emissions Dehydrator. This is a virtual roundtable, so it's not just us giving a webinar. This is your time to be interactive as well. To stay in the know with us, if something happens, I know a lot of people are working from home, maybe on location, don't worry. This video will be recorded, uploaded to our YouTube, our blog. You can do a quick search function on our blog to find the questions that you're actually wanting to understand and know.

Cameron Croft:

You can find us on LinkedIn. There's actually a lot of other blogs, especially about this PDS product. We got a lot of educational blogs that go along with it. So, please check those out. The people that we have speaking today, my name is Cameron Croft. I'm CEO of Croft Productions Systems.

Cameron Croft:

We got our director of engineering, Chris Smithson, that will be joining us, and then Eric Gorka is our service manager. Everyone works here at Croft. Actually, Eric, you just had your six years yesterday with us?

Eric Gorka:

No, it's coming up. Coming up very shortly.

Cameron Croft:

Okay. All right. And Chris, you've been over 10 years us. So, the topics that we're going to be talking about today, we are going to go over the origin story to get a better understanding of why we came up with this product line. It's actually a big portion of our business. It's not the only one. We're going to go over how it works, desiccant myths, the big emission controls, especially with the ESG initiatives that are going to be out there. And then PDS case studies.

Cameron Croft:

So, this is a roundtable structure. With that being said, if you do have questions, especially if we're talking about a topic, this is your time. I have the question and answer and the chat function up, so I will be interrupting Gorka and Chris, getting in there, and making sure that your questions are answered.

Cameron Croft:

So, please feel free to write any questions that you have so that way we can get it going. The big focus today out of all the pipeline spec, the contaminants that we're looking at is the water vapor, the dehydration portion of it.

Cameron Croft:

Now, the origin story, I'm going to talk a little bit about that because that actually comes from my dad and I can riff on him a little bit stronger than most. So, what he did is actually, he was a consultant, he owned multiple wells and he was a consultant over a hundred wells, so he owned and operated as a consultant. They had a pilot light go out in one of the TEG systems. And then when they re-lit it as most people do with a burning rag and you shove it into it, it actually had a flame blowback onto it.

Cameron Croft:

Well, the guy that he was working with at the time blew back on him. No one was hurt. No serious damage was done. It's nothing like this picture, so don't think it's that. But it did get to the point where my dad looked at the guy, the guy turned around and told him, he said, "There's got to be a better way of doing this."

Cameron Croft:

At that point, my dad actually trying to find a better way of dehydration where it didn't require burners, pumps, all the headaches that actually go along with it. He started looking up and he found the 1920s/ '30s technology that allowed this capability to happen. So, he started building his own. And as you could see this first generation picture in the middle here, is the best picture I could find. It had guide wires. The other ones are about 20 feet tall. They're leaning, Leaning Tower of Pisa and trying to service those things because I was 16, 17-years-old trying to fill these things. They were, god-awful. They were rough to deal with.

Cameron Croft:

You had to get five-gallon buckets, hook it, drag it up there, fill it up. So, since then, that was our first generation, but it proved that it worked. They were reliable, easy to maintain. So, he put them on all of his locations.

Cameron Croft:

And then being in the oil and gas industry for so long, he had a good credit that other people started asking him. And then at that point, he said, "Well, this could be a business." So, we went into business at that point. He sold off a lot of his locations and he went fully into the production and processing side.

Cameron Croft:

Now, since then, on the right side, we have our lease fleet in 14 states now. We sell equipment nationally and internationally. So, it went in from a big expansion from there. So, it's neat that from one blowout on a TEG pilot, it's changed his career path.

Varieties of Our Passive Dehydration System

Cameron Croft:

Now, turning it over from there, it's not just dehydration that we go on. There are multiple niches and facets of the market that we're in. Chris and Eric, can y'all talk a little bit about these pictures, the varieties that we've been in.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. And this is a sampling of the different units that we design and build. The center one, the small, little 10-inch vessel is the smallest of the dehydration vessels that we do for the PDS units. And then all the way up to our large 60-inch vessels, which we can manifold together multiple ones to handle volumes. Right now, we're putting in a system for 200 million a day to handle that as a polishing unit for a pipeline.

Chris Smithson:

But a little one that can handle 10 MCF a day and anything in between with different configurations of them. We've also made some trailer-mounted units for mobile applications for fuel gas or temporary dehydration.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah. So, there are different varieties. Trailer one, that was a fun project and we're building multiple of those. Yeah. Talk a little bit about that.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. Trailer one, that was an interesting fuel gas project. Up north, the gas quality is really good, can be used directly in natural gas-powered engines. So, they just need to make sure that it's dry so that when they run it through the regulators, it doesn't freeze up.

Chris Smithson:

And so, these units were designed for drilling rig fuel and dual fuel frac spreads. So, their trailer would be brought in, it would clean up the gas to power the generators for the drilling rig. Then the drilling rig would leave and the frac spread would come in. And then we were dual fueling the frac spread to displace diesel cost. Which is a great way of saving a lot of money on diesel.

Chris Smithson:

These systems work really well for fuel gas. Our turndown in our PDS systems is a hundred to one. So, a system like that trailer unit that's good for maybe a million and a half worth of fuel gas can turn down to 10 MCF and still work great.

Chris Smithson:

And they can turn off and on without having to restart any burners or pumps or anything like that. So, for temporary and intermittent applications, they work really well for dehydration.

Cameron Croft:

Well, let's go into how it works. Yeah. Chris, if you can take the lead on that then Gorka especially on the service side because you're the one that has to chew on it most of the time.

How does a no emissions dehydrator work?

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. So, the basic function is we're filling up a vessel with a dry pellet. And so, the pellet it's about the size of a large almond and it's made of a mixture of different salts. It's not table salt, very little table salt in there, but there are different kinds of salts.

Chris Smithson:

And all of the salts like to absorb water. The kinds that we use like water more. But basically, we're sucking the water moisture out of the natural gas with these salt pellets, and the salt is going to absorb that water. It's going to start dissolving the pellets and it's going to collect as brine water solution in the bottom. And the gas basically comes in the bottom wet and leaves the top of it dry.

Chris Smithson:

Now, the product that we have is formulated to output about two to four pounds at higher pressures. And so, when the gas comes in at whatever water concentration it is, it's going to leave at around two to four pounds per million of water leaving the system. And basically, it's just going to keep eating away at that dry bed of product, it's going to just keep shrinking down as it gets eaten up. And then the service team comes and they refill it normally on a 30-day service schedule to just top it off as however much as needed in there.

Chris Smithson:

But they're very simple systems. There's nothing to turn on or start-up, or really anything. As soon as the gas starts flowing through there, it goes through the system. Basically, once you've purged out all the gas out of the system, you're drying. And it's a very quick, very simple system. As long as you have enviro-DRI in there that hasn't been contaminated or anything, then you're going to be drying your gas.

Cameron Croft:

Well, actually, yeah. Talk a little bit about the sizing portion of it, and then what are the steps that you need to actually size one of these systems?

Chris Smithson:

So, for sizing, we look at two things. We look at the volume that we're going to size, and that's going to dictate the diameter of the vessel. So, we want a certain velocity going through the system. So, we're going to, if it's a real high volume, it's going to be bigger vessels, maybe a couple in parallel.

Chris Smithson:

And then the other thing we size for is the runtime. We like to size for a 40 to 45-day runtime. That gives a 30-day service cycle, a little extra wiggle room in case they need to come in there to be able, they get delayed a week or something. So, that runtime basically determines how many vessels we're going to have.

Chris Smithson:

So, a single vessel may get you to that 45-day runtime, or if you have a little higher enviro-DRI consumption, then you need to add a second vessel and you'll have one or two, maybe three in series where it runs from one to the next, next, and slowly eats it up.

Chris Smithson:

So, at the end of the month, you may have your lead vessel completely empty, but your second vessel is mostly full, you're still meeting spec. They come and they refill the first vessel. So, that's basically the way that we size it. Diameter gives us our volume or velocity, which is based on pressure and volume. And then the number of vessels gives us our runtime.

Servicing a Passive Dehydration System

Cameron Croft:

Awesome. And on the service side, like how it works, walk us through what your service techs have to do on location.

Eric Gorka:

Yeah, absolutely. So, like Chris was saying, every one of our units in our service area is on a 30-day service cycle and they're simple to service. So, when my guys show up on location, the first thing they do is they'll go through the instrumentation and make sure all the instrumentation on the vessel is working properly. If there are any hiccups, we fix it there.

Eric Gorka:

And then from there, we check the product inside the vessel. And so, we'll bypass the unit or switch over to another vessel so you always have dry gas. We'll open it up and we'll check the product inside and see. If it needs to be refilled, we'll use our crane trucks and we'll refill it. Sometimes we'll show up to the location and the gas has actually made a little channel through the product, so we'll route around, get the product broken up, following into that channel if it needs to be refilled, we refill it again. And like Chris was saying, they're very simple, simple units to service.

Our Specially Formulated Desiccant

Cameron Croft:

That's awesome. So, let's go deeper into the actual desiccant itself. I know earlier you were talking about some salt product being in there. We have a lot of clients that just call them salt beds, so can y'all explain a little bit about what actually is enviro-DRI and that it is salt, but not everything is salt.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. So, it's a mined salt that's refined and it's mixed with a couple different kinds to give us the blend that we're looking for. And we also have it shaped to what we feel is a really effective shape to reduce things like channeling and bridging within the system.

Chris Smithson:

And that gives it an oval shape, round pellet that the gas will go through. The real benefit of it is that it really only wants to absorb water. So, that's the only thing that's going to dissolve the actual salt is water. We've gotten slugged completely with oil, and we just had to drain the system out and it's ready to dry again. That's not going to actually dissolve the pellets unless there's a bunch of water in the oil, then you're going to actually have some of that dissolve.

Chris Smithson:

But it really is just looking for the water. So, if the gas is coming in partially dehydrated, then it's only going to react to however much water is coming in there. So, your consumption is completely based on your water into the system. So, if your volume gets cut in half, your enviro-DRI usage gets cut in half. If your temperature gets cut in half, your enviro-DRI usage will get cut in half.

Chris Smithson:

So, it's very simple in the way that it works. And the brine water, it's chemically similar to produced water. It has the same salts in it, just higher concentrations or maybe one over the other that you're seeing. But it goes to the disposal wells just like normal produced water is.

Chris Smithson:

And the amount of water that it turns into is the amount of water that you're removing from the system. So, when you think of 60 pounds of water per million, that's not a lot. That's less than, it's a couple of gallons a day of water. So, you're not talking about barrels and barrels of water getting produced off of this thing from the salt.

Chris Smithson:

And one pound of our enviro-DRI will absorb over three pounds of water. So, it absorbs more than its weight of water times three. So, it does hold quite a bit of that water.

Eric Gorka:

[crosstalk 00:13:58]. I also want to say, it reacts really fast also. I mean, as soon as you put the product inside the vessel, it's drying immediately. You can just hold it out in your hand out in the atmosphere and that product you can see it start sweating and it's trying to pull the moisture out of the air. So, as soon as you open that drum and you put it in that vessel, you automatically start drying gas. It's a very quick reaction.

Cameron Croft:

Well, that's a funny thing. It's like when we were first training service techs to come on and you see them trying to wear leather gloves in the beginning and you're like, "No, you can't wear that," because it immediately just starts, the leather just shrinks up everything and you see their hands.

Eric Gorka:

Oh, yeah.

Cameron Croft:

But even their boots, right?

Eric Gorka:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Some of the powder, like in this picture in the left, the boot there, some powder will get on your boot and if you don't happen to wash that off after you're done, your boot will curl up because it will start pulling the moisture out of that leather and shrink your boot.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah. You had one of your guys that took it off and then he didn't wash it off. So, it just crinkled up like Wizard of Oz, the witch coming back up.

Eric Gorka:

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. And one guy even tried to put his boot on a two by four and nail it down to try to straighten it back out. I mean, it definitely pulls water.

Chemical Make-up of Our Desiccant

Cameron Croft:

Well, the other ones, so I know there's, we've used other chemicals in the beginning, especially when my dad was trying to test out the different ones. The big issue that he found on, that's when we started trying to, we manufacture our own blend now because the first ones were, it was the binder issue, right? There was 20% to 25% binder material in it. And that sludge would just sit on the bottom.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. One of our competitors, to keep it formed, they added something that's not soluble in water basically to help pack in and make their pellets stronger. That material though doesn't dissolve in water, it just turns its powder and can build up in the bottom and harden into places that shouldn't.

Chris Smithson:

Ours is a pure salt product and it may cost a little more, but we know what's in it. It's not some stuff coming out of China or something with a bunch of random other things inside of the mix. It is a good product that we keep to our quality control and everything that we know is a good, solid item.

Chris Smithson:

There's other ones out there and there's different grades of salt. Like our standard enviro-DRI is the basic product that we use in 99% of our units. We have a more advanced version, which is a different salt blend for lower pressure applications that need to be able to reach a lower water content, but it is a lot more expensive. Our standard enviro-DRI normally works for all of our applications, for gas drying and for liquid hydrocarbon drying as well.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah. The liquid hydrocarbon that's... Yeah. Because we were on quite a few propane projects right now where it's in liquid form. So, that's actually pretty neat that this product we can use in the gas and in liquid form. So, it's good.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. Same vessels, same enviro-DRI. It just dries hydrocarbons, any hydro. You can run diesel fuel through it and it'll take the water out of the diesel fuel as long as you get your velocities right on the vessel so that the water separates out from the hydrocarbon. But yeah, it just wants to absorb water.

Chris Smithson:

And so, I mean, there's things that can contaminate it, soaps, surfactants, those sort of things, they can actually physically, anything that's going to physically coat the pellet, it won't allow it to absorb anymore.

Chris Smithson:

It's the same sorts of things you want to avoid with the glycol unit. You don't want soaps getting into your glycol unit because then you're going to foam out your tower. We don't want soaps in the enviro-DRI because it's going to coat the pellets and not let you absorb.

Chris Smithson:

So, it's similar issues. It's things you'd really want to avoid in a glycol is same things you want to avoid coming into our PDS system.

Cameron Croft:

Well, Gorka, on yours, when you train your guys to go out to location and you're servicing the systems, how do you know that the system's being contaminated?

Eric Gorka:

It's a real simple test that we do. Well at first, we'll pull water content tube and we'll see what the water content is. If it's high, we open the vessel, if we see the vessel's full, it gives you the heads up that something's not working properly.

Eric Gorka:

And then from there, we'll pull out a sample of the product from inside the vessel and get a cup of water, fresh water, and you can put that pellet in that water. And if there's any kind of contamination, that cup of water's pretty much going to wash the pellet and contamination floats to the top.

Eric Gorka:

There you can see bubbles from soap or oil sheen that has covered the product, something like that. And that's when we know it's contaminated.

Cameron Croft:

It's also, I think, a discoloration. What happens when we start seeing a lot of yellow coating over that? Is that the liquid hydro, or what is that, Chris?

Chris Smithson:

The scavengers. Liquid scavengers. Because our vessel velocity is very slow going through the system, so whereas a glycol tower may have a 12 inch tower, we'll have a 24 inch vessel. And so, our PDS vessels are typically larger diameter than an equivalent glycol tower, just because we need a certain velocity going through there.

Chris Smithson:

But because it's so slow, it acts like a separator. So, if we have H2O scavenger being injected ahead of the system that didn't fall out on the separator, it'll probably fall out in the enviro-DRI and it just sits on the pellets and you'll see that yellow discoloration on them. And won't necessarily stop us from drying unless there's something in the scavenger or it's just so much scavenger that it's just coating the pellets.

Chris Smithson:

Normally, just the process of the pellets absorbing like they're supposed to, the contamination gets stuck on the bottom. Small amounts of contamination we can live with. It'll get stuck on the bottom and the pellets dissolving above them will help wash them off.

Chris Smithson:

And a short spike of contamination can usually get cleaned up by itself. Just the normal usage of the unit. It won't need an entire washout, which is if the full product gets contaminated, we just got to dissolve it all with water, empty it out, wash it out with pressure washer and refill the whole system again.

Chris Smithson:

Which, depending on the size of the system, can be a bit expensive to do a full refill on there. But yeah, the biggest concern that we have as far as contamination is surfactants. So, high detergent compressor oils, that's a place we see soaps coming in.

Chris Smithson:

Soap sticks, not so much. They tend to fall out pretty early. Cap tubes, capillary tubes, where they're doing like a liquids surfactant, that stuff's a little more pervasive. It can make it through some separators if it foams hard enough. The compressor oil is usually where we're seeing the main introduction of soap, but I mean, you can just change your compressor oil on your compressor side and avoid that.

Cameron Croft:

No, that's good. And I'm going to move on to the pros and cons or these are the quick highlight pros and cons a little bit. So, Chris, can you mind going over them?

Chris Smithson:

Sure. Yeah. So, main pro it's very simple, basically open the valve, flow gas through it, you start drying. Usually, it's like 15 minutes before we pull a tube just to make sure all the gas gets out of the system.

Chris Smithson:

Normally, we're around six to eight feet per minute through the vessel. So, it can take a few minutes just to get through our PDS vessel. But yeah, they're super simple. It's really just the vessels ahead of it. And then the dump system on it to dump the liquid off.

Chris Smithson:

There's no burners, there's no pumps, there's no temperature controllers, there's no back pressure regulators, there's no low pressure separation systems, there's no filters unless you have a coalescing filter ahead of it. But yeah, the simplicity compared to a glycol unit is night and day.

Chris Smithson:

I mean, the simplest of our systems is just a single vessel with a dump timer on it and a dump valve versus a glycol unit with all its pumps controllers and everything.

Chris Smithson:

The lifespan of the vessels, it is just a solid high pressure vessel. Our entire lease fleet is 1440 pressure rated. So, they're good 25, 30 year life vessels. Even though we do have salt inside the vessels, we do not see excessive corrosion inside the systems.

Chris Smithson:

We do periodic UT testing depending on the life of the vessel, how long it's been in the fleet. And that salt does not have any sort of excessive corrosion inside the systems. We use standard carbon steel vessels and we don't see any problems.

Chris Smithson:

I mean, obviously the big problem is if you have oxygen coming in, but that shouldn't be an issue or else you're just going to corrode out everything anyway. Excellent turn down on the PDS is 100 to 1, is what we say. I mean, really, it's higher than that. I just don't know if it'll just don't run higher than 100 to 1.

Chris Smithson:

And it's completely dependent on the amount of water coming in. So, you can run, you can have a million a day running through there and then drop down to one MCF and you'll still dry effectively through that system. And your usage will be based on one MCF.

Chris Smithson:

So, there's excellent turndown on the systems and great on and off. Like if you have a well and an inter-meter, and you're shut down for three days and you turn right back on and you have the inter-meter that's controlling that, our unit starts drying immediately. As long as you didn't shut anything down or anything, you can just literally just turn the thing on and off, and you'll be drying immediately. There's no pumps to restart, no circulation to establish, no risk of throwing away your glycol, your tower because you just reestablished flow. So yes, excellent turndown, excellent on/off.

Chris Smithson:

And then the emissions compared to a glycol is huge difference. The only emissions that we have is when we depressurize the vessel to refill it, which is minimal just based on the volume of the vessel. And the little bit of gas gets lost on the dump system, we operate timer dumps instead of a typical level controller.

Chris Smithson:

And what that is is it's opening a simple pneumatic dump valve for a couple seconds every couple of hours and just releasing any liquids that are in the bottom of that. It doesn't know if it's liquid or gas, it's just going to open for that couple of seconds. So normally we get a little slug of gas behind the drain line, which we prefer because it shoots all that liquid all the way to the tank.

Chris Smithson:

But yeah, that's really our only emissions. On standard glycol unit with no BTEX, that's a 99% reduction in emissions. Now, if you have a BTEX, then cut that in half. If you have a BTEX with a combustor, then you're getting a little closer.

Chris Smithson:

But we have no CO2 emissions. I mean, it doesn't matter how good your BTEX is, you still have a burner on your glycol unit emitting CO2. So, our systems, we put them in Pennsylvania without air permits, put them in Colorado, Wyoming with no air permits.

Chris Smithson:

We've put our systems out just because they can't turn on a glycol system because they can't get the air permit for that system. So yeah, it's minimal, minimal emissions compared to a TEG system. If you put manual dumps on it, then you don't even have the drain line emissions.

Chris Smithson:

The cons for our system, it is a higher capital cost for a base glycol versus a PDS system. If you go full out on a glycol unit, BTEX, BMS system, the controllers that you want, maybe some telemetry stuff, you're going to be more expensive than our system.

Chris Smithson:

But just a base glycol versus a base PDS system, PDS is going to be more expensive just because it's bigger, heavier vessels on there. The other con is our cost is linear with volume. So, if you double your volume, you're doubling your enviro-DRI usage and you're doubling the size of the system that you need.

Chris Smithson:

Compared to a glycol system, they start to get, the bigger the vessels get, you get some economies of scale there with the cost. It starts to drop down. Glycols are regenerative, so on the really big systems, you don't have the same cost that you do. The smaller the system gets, it doesn't necessarily get cheaper on a glycol. Versus a PDS, it is linear. So, you are basically doubling if you're doubling your volumes.

Chris Smithson:

The other con is with our standard enviro-DRI below 300 pounds, we're not going to get below seven pounds per million, which is typical pipeline spec. There's a more expensive product that we can use that can get us down at lower pressure, but it is very expensive.

Chris Smithson:

So, typically, that puts us out of being able to use that. But yeah, normally as long as we're over 300 PSI, then we can meet seven pounds per million on the systems.

Pros and Cons of Servicing a Passive Dehydration System

Cameron Croft:

Well, and on the cons, Gorka, I want you to expand on that, not really cons but you said very simple operations. So, your service techs, what do you demand from them? I mean, if it's simple operation, how many units can one of your guys handle?

Eric Gorka:

So, depending on the logistics of the units, each one of my guys is in charge of a route and they're supposed to hit that every month. Every 30 days, they hit it. And depending on logistics, you can hit just, let's for an example, we have about 20 units just in the Livingstone area.

Eric Gorka:

And in two days, all 20 of those units can be hit and serviced properly. Now, when you start spreading things out, it gets a little more difficult. Our biggest problem to get to the units is actually getting to the units, the drive time, where especially in East Texas, we're on the other side of Houston. So, if you hit that Houston traffic, you're just sitting there.

Cameron Croft:

You mean 18 miles on the dirt road and five cattle guards and the three cows that are in the way that doesn't slow you down?

Eric Gorka:

Well, I'll take that other than driving Downtown Houston at 7:30. No, yeah. Each one of my guys have about 25 to 35 units that they're in charge of hitting a month. And that's what we have right now. We have them sectioned out.

Eric Gorka:

When I first started, I think there was two of us, one in East Texas, one in South Texas, and I had more like 52 to 60 that we were hitting a month. I mean, don't get me wrong, that's [inaudible 00:28:40], but yeah, it's very simple.

Eric Gorka:

If everything checks out, you're looking at maybe an hour to properly routine service a unit. Check everything out. And that's filling out the tickets, filling out your JSA, everything there. We call the clients and check in with them. That's having a conversation with them. Usually it's not a 30 second conversation. It's 5, 10 minutes just talking with the clients, seeing how they're doing and if they need anything from us. So, routine service about an hour for each unit.

Cameron Croft:

What's the biggest issue that y'all see out there?

Eric Gorka:

So, the biggest issues that we see it actually comes in the drain line, we ask operators or pumpers to check the drains daily. Some drains don't have to be checked daily depending on the volume. But if they're not checked frequently, then there could be, that's pretty much the only moving part on the PDS is the dump valve that actuates.

Eric Gorka:

And I mean, that's the solar panel battery timer box and a dump valve. And if something, just a hiccup, just a small hiccup and the salt doesn't have anywhere to go, it will get plugged up at the bottom and that will lead into bigger issues.

Eric Gorka:

But if that drain line is constantly checked and that brine solution is constantly being dumped out, then plugging the drain line is usually not an issue.

Cameron Croft:

If it does get plugged up though, I mean, how big of an issue is it for your service guys? What do they do to clear out the drain lines?

Eric Gorka:

So, yeah, if the drain line does get plugged up and we catch it in a reasonable amount of time, each one of our service trucks is issued a pressure washer. And we'll hook into the drain line. We literally flush out the drain line. We'll flush out the bottom of the vessel in case any of the salt is solidified at the bottom there, rinse out the bottom. And it's simple as that.

Eric Gorka:

You put salt and water and it dissolves. So, as long as we catch it as a reasonable time after it happened, you're talking five minutes, six maybe, and that's actually flushing it completely the bottom, flushing it a few times and draining it. What we've gotten the habit of doing, if we happen to see units that do get plugged up more often, then we will add water to the bottom.

Eric Gorka:

I mean, you're talking a couple of feet from the bottom of the vessel to actually the product bed and we'll leave water in there. So when the salt drops down, it hits fresh water and then dissolves in the water that we left and then gets drained out. If it comes into a bigger problem, we offer water injection skids at the bottom of it just to keep constantly pumping fresh water in there. Usually, something like that happens if it's real high temperatures and we're going through a lot of enviro-DRI.

level controllers on the PDS

Cameron Croft:

Well, that actually is one of the questions is saying, how come we don't have level controllers just put into the unit running the dump out that way? Why timer boxes?

Eric Gorka:

So, with the level controllers, what we found out is, I mean, it's salt. So, you have the level controller arm in there and the salt will grab the level controller, sometimes give you false readings because it will clump up on the level controller and activate it to dump or not dump.

Eric Gorka:

Also, salt can be corrosive on the level controllers. So, in my opinions, it's simpler. We set a timer and we can adjust that timer. It doesn't have to be every two hours for four seconds. That's pretty much what our default is when it goes out to the unit every two hours for four seconds it dumps.

Eric Gorka:

We have units that are really low flow, cool temperatures. We dump them once a day and we don't see an issue with them at all. But with the level controllers, there are a lot more hiccups than probably should.

Desiccant myths

Cameron Croft:

That's leads back into our desiccant myths. Now, these are the three main areas that we see a lot of, because we get a lot of clients where they're saying, "Well, I've dealt with these salt beds in 1970s, 1980s, and this is what I have." So, in dealing with these desiccant-ness, Chris, do you mind reading these off and then your rebuttal to these myths?

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. So, the first one you hear a lot is they're only really good for low volumes. And part of that is because the biggest market for these was fuel gas. And if you haven't seen ours but you've seen somebody else's desiccant system that uses a consumable desiccant, what you've probably seen is a little small fuel gas cylinder on a line heater, GPU or something like that.

Chris Smithson:

And so, people really thought they didn't want to change them out that often, they just weren't really a little more unsure of them. So, it just gave rise that they were really only good for low volumes of gas.

Chris Smithson:

Like the picture here that's a pretty good example of what we put a lot of our systems in where it's a pretty small glycol unit, but the volume gas just wasn't worth operating the glycol units. They just shoved it back two feet and put our vessel right there where the tower was sitting and then piped into it.

Chris Smithson:

And which is great for small volumes, but we've successfully dehydrated over a hundred million. We can handle much higher volumes of it that is usually for shorter term applications, maybe one month, maybe six months for those because at the really high volume rates, depending on your inlet water content, if you have high temperatures, a lot of water coming in, then a glycol is going to be a more cost effective option.

Chris Smithson:

But for temporary applications, we can handle really high volumes. We did a temporary one for a pipeline polishing application where they were doing a chemical wash on a pipeline. And we were doing 20 million and we have four other applications up north where we're doing 20 million. And those are permanent applications because the temperature is low that's coming in, pressure is high, low water content, low enviro-DRI usage.

Chris Smithson:

And they just make sense as permanent applications. For them, they've been out over a year. They're definitely going to be out there for at least another two. We have one side that does 60 million up there as well, where it makes sense in the water content perspective.

Chris Smithson:

But yeah, we can definitely handle high volumes. It's just a matter of scaling the vessels. And I know our big 60 inch vessels can handle easily 10 million by itself. And you put a couple of those together and you can get to whatever volume you want.

Chris Smithson:

The other thing is that the desiccants are only economically-feasible lower volumes. And really that goes back to how much water is coming in, because we're only removing however much water is coming in on a polishing application where you need to do 20 million and you need to take out just that little bit because your glycol is acting up or you're 10 miles away from that unit and you got a little water in your lines trying out.

Chris Smithson:

We can be very economical at high volumes. Colder temperatures with a lower water content were easily cost competitive with the glycol system. It's when you get into the really hot temperatures, lower pressures where you have a lot more water coming in that were not necessarily economical for those options.

Chris Smithson:

But just the volume isn't really an indicator of whether or not we're a good fit for that system. And the other thing is desiccant systems can't dehydrate gas to higher flow rate. We can handle whatever volume, it's just a matter of slowing it down enough in the vessel.

Chris Smithson:

So, as long as we're properly sized, we can handle the higher volumes and dry it down to two to four pounds just like we would at the lower volumes. So yeah, we can handle the higher flow rates and it performed the same expectation that we can with the lower volumes. It's just as long as our systems are adequately sized for it.

Cameron Croft:

Yeah. We're on several midstream stations right now doing 20 to 40 million a day. This other project we're working up in the Northeast are doing 160 on one location and 200 million on the other location. So, I don't know, but these are the myths that, especially in the beginning, Chris you were, it's like my dad even when we were going, I said, "We got this application, they're wanting 10 million."

Cameron Croft:

And even he started, he goes, "Now everything I read you can't do that. You can't do that much." But we worked with the client, we said, "All right, we'll build it. We'll size it properly or to the best of our ability, but we'll have to try it out. We don't know."

Cameron Croft:

And then we did the 10 million and then now we're up to 200 million. So, we were even believing a lot of the myths that were going into it or the paper case studies from the past. So, it's neat to see how, and I'm glad it proved right. That's fantastic.

Chris Smithson:

What people know is what they've read in GPSA handbook or maybe some textbooks or something, but all there ever is, is paragraph about our systems. I mean, it's an old technology. 1920 is when they first started using salt to be able to dehydrate. Obviously, we have our own proprietary chemical blend. We know how to design the vessels for that.

Chris Smithson:

And maybe we've never been asked to contribute textbook. But the information in there can be a little misleading. I mean, some of it like the sizing recommendations, the volume recommendations, what it's saying in those textbooks doesn't really do justice what we're able to do with our systems.

Chris Smithson:

We talked to some engineers and they actually did some research, but it's tainted by something that somebody read. It's one textbook referencing a next, and the next, and the next that it's from 1970 and it's the same paragraph just retyped. Or they're used to the old Desi dry systems, [inaudible 00:38:49] and they just inherited it and they just had no idea how the thing was supposed to work. And it got put into a situation where they had a big mess up on the system and nobody to help them troubleshoot it. And so, they ended up hating the system or they had a boss that that's all he knew because he had a horror story from the '80s.

Chris Smithson:

And then so their impression of them isn't that good. But that's one of the hardest things that we have to fight is just the impression that people have from using some other system from 40 years ago.

Cameron Croft:

Well, what I want to do is go into the methane emissions because that's one of the key trends that are actually happening right now is everyone's pushing for ESG, the environment on social governance programs, the initiatives being Paris Climate Agreement. We're back on schedule on trying to meet.

Cameron Croft:

So, I started trying to do some research on ESG, figuring out how are people even gaging the initiatives that they need to focus on. They kept on referencing the EPA. So, looking at the EPA. And the EPA, if you believe the numbers or not, but this is what that they're pushing out there is that 12 billion cubic feet of methane being released from dehydrators and pumps.

Cameron Croft:

Now, pumps in what sense? I don't know, is that the pumps on the TEG or is that chemical injection pumps? They're not really specifying, but I wanted to bring that to the attention of, this is what everyone's having in the back of their mind.

Cameron Croft:

So, politicians, regulators, people that are legislating, this is what they're seeing of what they need to be focusing on. So, whether it's right or wrong, this is what they're starting to believe.

Cameron Croft:

So, I did want to, now we do build TEGs, we do re-certify them, we service on them. So, I don't want to talk too badly about them, but I do want to go into the aspects of what are the issues, the inefficiencies from them. So, Chris, can you go into that and then Gorka on the service side?

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. So, the emissions from the glycol systems, all the bad stuff comes out of the still column. The burner is just a burner. It's just burning the gas. I mean, the efficiency of the burner, be it 95%, 98%, whatever that style of burner is. I can't remember offhand, but so you do have a little bit of methane emissions from that.

Chris Smithson:

But overall, that's not necessarily a big number. I mean, you do have your fuel usage equivalent to your burner and your circulation rate which you're running can be high. I mean, you could have 5, 10 MCF a day, depending on the size of the glycol system that you're just burning.

Chris Smithson:

And then, say, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5% of that's methane just getting emitted because it didn't get full combustion. But the main emissions is coming off that still column. And that's assuming your flash separator is, if you have a flash separator that's going from place to place.

Chris Smithson:

If you have a flash separator, you have a lot of methane that's getting emitted off from your pumps. But all the bad stuff is in the still column because it got captured by the glycol. Your benzene, your toluene, your ethylbenzene, these are all hydrocarbons that are in the gas. Glycol likes them, so glycol grabs them in the tower, takes them to the still column where they get boiled out.

Chris Smithson:

And benzene, toluene, that's basically paint thinner. So, it's a hydrocarbon, but it's just light enough to be in the gas but heavy enough to where it gets captured by the glycol.

Chris Smithson:

And so, when that gets boiled out, if you don't have a good BTEX unit to capture those, remove them, send them some place where they're not going to just vent off to the atmosphere like a combustor or liquefy them into a tank, then you have an emissions problem.

Chris Smithson:

The standard BTEX system, just the ambient cooled ones where they're just doing that, those are just liquefying what they can. They're cooling down enough to where they can try to liquefy that, but that's not going to get all the BTEX out of there.

Chris Smithson:

Then after you have your vapors. So, you send those to either your burner or you send them to a combustor. If you send them to the burner, they only combust when the burner is on. So, all you can really guarantee is a 50% combustion on the vapors that are coming off that BTEX unit, because a burner is only on half the time according to the EPA.

Chris Smithson:

But so, you send it to a combustor you get a lot better combustion, but then you're just turning into CO2. So, you never really get away from that emissions, no matter how good your mission control system is, you still are going to have some off of a glycol unit.

Chris Smithson:

I mean, you can go electric reboiler, but then you still got to burn something. Unless you're capturing it and sending it down a hole somewhere, which I haven't seen anybody try yet, there's really no way to completely have an emission-less glycol system.

Cameron Croft:

Well, I know they're getting close. Like even right now, we sell a lot of upgrade systems trying to, because people already bought the asset. Now with these emission controls coming up, they're trying to hit their initiatives.

burner management system

Cameron Croft:

So, I know we have a, what is it? Burner management system upgrades trying to increase efficiency, better BTEX systems, better burner tips so you don't get the, what's it, the NOx in a better mixture of that airflow in it.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah, there's a lot you can do to help get a glycol system to operate better. I mean, I'm a huge fan of burner management systems on them. One from a safety aspect, because you just hit on and the thing just turns on. You got no burning rags through that open port. But also because it turns off when the flame burns out.

Cameron Croft:

That's right.

Chris Smithson:

I mean, any operators, we let a pilot before, had one blow out on them. If you can't boil your glycol, you're not dehydrating. So, the fact that those things can auto [inaudible 00:44:22]. And if they can't, they just turn off and you're not just venting gas. Because in a standard T12, this is going to open up. That thing is going to just keep sending gas to that burner.

Chris Smithson:

So, your fuel gas goes from 5 MCF a day to all of a sudden you have 40 MCF loss for the day because the pilot light blew out and it was just spewing fuel gas into the burner.

Chris Smithson:

So yeah, there's definitely upgrades that you can do to try to reduce those emissions. And I think they're all beneficial things from the safety aspect and emissions aspect that if you can put them in there, upgrade to BMS systems, we'll get a good BTEX system. But yeah, it'll never get a hundred percent of it for the glycol system.

ESG Initiatives

Cameron Croft:

That goes into the [inaudible 00:45:07] that the big push for our glycol systems being replaced with our desiccant, our PD, passive dehydration system is the simplicity, the air permit issues and people don't want to spend the money on the upgrades that they're seeing. What are you saying on that? Explain what are y'all seeing from your clients, especially with the ESG initiatives?

Chris Smithson:

Yeah, we see a lot of replacement of oversized systems. So, systems that were initially sized for an initial flow rate that declined after three months and there's no longer anywhere near what that big unit was designed for. We see that a lot. A lot of our clients are like the second or third owner of the locations. So, the original glycol system maybe, again, 10 years old, insulation's fallen off. It had a small fire.

Chris Smithson:

They don't want to spend the money to fix it. So, they can get our unit designed for smaller volume to just completely replace that system. Maybe they can take that out so they can put it somewhere else more usable. They can take a dehy size for 20 million and put that on a new well pad or something. And this old well pad can get our rental system that they don't have to worry about.

Chris Smithson:

We have a lot of operators that love our units just because they show up and pipeline says, "Hey, you're reading a seven." They're like, "Okay." They call Croft. They call Eric and he sends one of his guys out there. They don't have to deal with it. There's no pumps to change. We'll be there. Maybe they switch over to a vessel that's in bypass so that it'll bring them back into spec.

Chris Smithson:

And we show up a week later, there's no rush to fix it. So, a lot of it is replacing equipment that's either way oversized where it just can't dry or it's just not worth fixing for them.

Chris Smithson:

And the other big thing is permits. They don't want to wait on a permit or their flow is going to be changing so much. There's one where the tan vessel is where they had snow on them. The decline it's shell production up in the Marcellus. The decline after three months, the production's cut in half.

Chris Smithson:

So, what their plan was, they're just going to take one of these vessels, peel it away to a new site, and they're just going to eventually leave just one of these vessels there to handle that. So they're able to mix and match as needed for the production volumes. And because it's up north, cold temperatures, low water content, their enviro-DRI usage were so small that we were way cheaper than a glycol system for them to operate that way.

Chris Smithson:

Even though you physically move these things every six months, package up five or six of them together on a new site to handle an initial flow rate of 60 million or whatever. And then once it drops down, peel off a couple and take them somewhere else, that can be real beneficial for them. And you're not waiting around for air permits. And you can get them online immediately.

the compenents of the pds

Cameron Croft:

Well, one of the questions that we got is, to ease the simple operations on the PDS, would it be helpful to know that if you're dumping every two hours by status alert? So, kind of like a monitoring, would that actually help out?

Chris Smithson:

The systems are pretty simple. And Gorka, you can probably talk a little more to it. But when you were talking about just checking to make sure the dumps are dumping, you're talking about just going and pushing the button on the timer, and watching that dump valve go up and down, and listening or maybe feeling the pipe to know that there is something actually flowing through it, because that's what we want the drain to actually dump.

Chris Smithson:

We want liquid flowing through there. If you go hit that on button, that valve goes up and you actually hear gas shooting through there, you're good because you know that it actually is dumping the liquid off of the vessel. I mean, there's clamp on sensors that'll tell you actual flow through that. On a bigger system, yeah, it'd be nice to have a remote monitoring type setup for the dump system.

Chris Smithson:

This picture with the tan vessels, actually, they didn't have our timer dump, they actually programmed it into their control box so that they could remotely dump it if they wanted to. What they never did was put on any sort of flow sensor on the flow line just to make sure that it actually was draining to the dumps, that it didn't really turn into a problem.

Chris Smithson:

Because I guess that's another thing to bring up. Gorka, we have almost a hundred units in the field. How many drain lines do you break clear a month? Out of all those, how many of your guys are actually pulling that pressure washer out to break the drain line clear?

Eric Gorka:

Maybe once a month. I wouldn't even say that.

Chris Smithson:

One, maybe two units a month out of the hundred or so need their drain line cleared out?

Eric Gorka:

Maybe. That's maybe. And we either see it when the temperature is really hot outside in the summer months where the gas is hotter it's using a lot more product and it's falling out, or in the colder room when it gets real cold and it's sitting there for a while and it's cold outside. And it just helps it speed the solidifying process up.

Eric Gorka:

But like I said, maybe once a month, maybe. And then if we see if it's a recurring issue on the same unit, one of my guys will sit out there for a whole day and play with the timer box. If we're dumping every two hours, he's going to sit there for two hours, have a alert on his phone or watch and go there and watch it dump. We'll listen, like you mentioned it earlier, right at the very end, we want just a hair of gas to come through and push that.

Eric Gorka:

So, if it dumps and we don't hear any gas, okay, well then we'll set it for an hour and then we'll dump it until we hear gas, set it for an hour 30 minutes and then wait for that gas, play with it to see what's a good time. I mean, some we have a unit, very hot gas. We've tried to cool it down. We just can't do it. It dumps every 30 minutes. It just makes that much fluid. But as for actually plugging up pressure washer maybe once a month and it's not that bad.

Eric Gorka:

I do want to say, in that left photo that we're looking at there, we're talking about switching out sizes. That vessel has actually been switched out. We replaced its PEG because it was too large in the background there. I want to say we had a three bottle unit and the volume kept dropping and dropping and now we have a single bottle unit out there.

Eric Gorka:

I can't explain really in words how simple the units are that we can just switch out units in/out drain. Three pipes that come in and out of it and it's very simple, but yeah, I just wanted to hit on that real fast.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. I mean, that one was changed out in, what, an hour? The crew had it piped in and we were drying gas through the single bottle and then they yanked the multi bottle.

Eric Gorka:

Yeah. In that picture, the multi bottle was literally right to the left of it, so they hit some units off and piped that one in.

Cameron Croft:

To stay on schedule, we're going to skip a few things. I think I got a little ambitious with the presentation, sorry. We're going to go into the case studies, but before we get into the case studies, we do have a question that says, where do you take the brine water once it's dumped?

Chris Smithson:

So the brine water is chemically the same as produced water. So, we just normally send it to the salt water tanks on location. It doesn't add any salt, there's no special disposal requirements or anything. You can't even tell it's mixed in. I mean, it looks exactly like produced water. So, it just goes to wherever the water is going for disposal.

Chris Smithson:

I mean, here in Texas, there's always a saltwater disposal well that it's going to go to, but most sites have a, they'll have a saltwater tank, oil tank on site and we just pipe into that. Normally, we like our own dedicated drain line all the way to that tank if possible. Really we just want to get into a line that has other water in it, that way the salt water can't solidify.

Chris Smithson:

If it sits up too long, there's a chance if it gets cold enough it can re-solidify into salt crystals. But yeah, no, it's the same as produced water. And we're not making a lot of it, so you're not... I mean, most of our clients, they don't even notice. Unless they don't make any water at all, they don't even notice that we're adding water to their tank.

case studies

Cameron Croft:

We're going into the case studies. Let's touch on the top one and go through there. Explain these scenarios.

Chris Smithson:

So, the first one is, this is at Colorado application, right Eric?

Eric Gorka:

Yeah.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah, this was, I guess you can talk a little about this one. I think you actually visited this one, right?

Eric Gorka:

No, I didn't get the chance to go to Colorado on that trip, but-

Cameron Croft:

Hey, we shipped you to Louisiana. I mean, it's kind of the same thing as Colorado.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah.

Eric Gorka:

Oh yeah. I believe this is for a fuel gas or was it a polishing unit? I don't remember.

Chris Smithson:

Compressed natural gas.

Eric Gorka:

Okay.

Chris Smithson:

So yeah. They were drying the gas that was coming off of a well. They had no pipeline, but they wanted to produce the well, so they were actually turning the gas into CNG, and they ran it for a couple months while they were waiting for their pipeline to get put in.

Chris Smithson:

So yeah, this was an interesting one to do. They needed the gas clean enough to get in the CNG unit so that the CNG trailers didn't have water fall out or anything. And it would meet spec when they offloaded the CNG trailers into the pipeline miles away. But yeah, that was an interesting one.

Chris Smithson:

And then one of your guys has two other sites like that up in Pennsylvania where we're cleaning it up for CNG gas. So yeah, those are interesting applications. The middle application, so that one used to be one of yours there. Those are over in Livingston.

Eric Gorka:

Yeah. Right in Goodrich, right? Just south of Livingston. Yeah, the TEG was failing and they called and asked, "Do we have a PDS?" And I think it was, we had those 236 that was in a 16 inch separator there. And I think we had it ready to go.

Eric Gorka:

So, in about a day or two, we had that unit out there ready to go. And actually, they still use the contact tower as a separator before, so they left the piping there and then just from the outreach, they shoot right over to us in and out. And I don't even know if that took an hour to get installed. That one went really quickly.

Chris Smithson:

Yeah. And the picture reminds me of another one, but the other one was in Louisiana where their glycol unit was just, it was operating so poorly that the cost in glycol per month that they were spending was more than our rental rate for the unit.

Chris Smithson:

And we see that a lot, especially on the smaller ones. We've had units that we've replaced where their increase in gas volume sales pays for the entire PDS system. And not including filters or man hour time or glycol or anything else, just the increase in gas that was getting burned for fuel or going through the pumps because of bad pump or whatever, just that increase paid for the whole system alone.

Chris Smithson:

Normally, that's on the smaller size, but the one in Louisiana, it was a decent size. It was like 2 million a day unit. And they were, I mean, they were spending three or 4,000 a month in glycol because they were just losing so much out of that system. But yeah, the picture reminds me of that one because their glycol unit looked terrible.

Chris Smithson:

But yeah, the last application, so that's a large processing facility where we were doing 60 million a day worth of gas. That was a, I'm trying to remember where exactly that one was.

Eric Gorka:

Yeah, that was in West Texas.

Chris Smithson:

West Texas, yeah. That was another shorter term project where they needed a dry coming into the facility. And it was supposed to be, but due pipeline issues, they had us out there to make sure that the gas was dry coming in the facility so that we didn't overwhelm the emulsive dehy that was part of that facility. Because the gas was supposed to be seven pounds, and due to some upsets in the pipeline, it wasn't.

Conclusion

Cameron Croft:

Well, I don't see any questions and trying to wrap up and stay within our timeframe because I don't want to get everyone upset because they're not eating lunch right now. We're going to wrap up.

Cameron Croft:

If you're interested in being a webinar speaker or know of someone who would be a good fit, please reach out to us, email on [email protected] so that way we can get you on, get you talking, or if you want to hear some other topics, please reach out to us. Give us feedback on what we're doing. We want to make sure that this information is coming across to the best of our capability so we can tailor our upcoming webinars.

Cameron Croft:

This is also a PDH credit, so if you would like a PDH, professional development hour, please reach out to us so that way we can ship you that one hour certificate for this webinar. If you have any questions, concerns about what's going on or what we discussed here, you want to hear more information, please reach out to us.

Cameron Croft:

You can call us on our office line, [email protected], or you can find me on LinkedIn. And then if you need to talk to Gorka or Chris, please reach out to us and then I'll make sure to yell at them for you. But I appreciate everyone joining us today, talking with us about emissions free dehydrators.

Cameron Croft:

There's going to be more specific questions in the future that we're going to go into. And then Gorka and Chris, thank y'all for coming on board with us.

Eric Gorka:

Oh, absolutely.

Cameron Croft:

All right. All right, take care guys. Thank y'all very much for everyone joining us.

 

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