These are busy times for U.S. oil and gas producers. Prices are up, demand is rising, and the market for domestic sources is riding high. As a result, production volumes for oil and gas in many North American energy basins are reaching new record highs, with almost no end in sight.
Unfortunately, energy producers in many parts of the country are discovering that their existing facility installations are not capable of supporting today’s heavier production volumes. Oil and gas production facilities that were built in the last few decades simply weren’t designed to handle what the market now supports, and these limitations are forcing many producers to leave money on the table.
As a result, operators are now scrambling to upgrade their sites in order to supply enough oil and gas products to the market, calling on skilled engineers to conceptualize, test and oversee these retrofit projects. For example, in 2014, a leading independent energy company approached us for help retrofitting its existing compressor station facilities in an effort to support its growing production volumes.
The problem: The Client did not have enough compressor capacity at its facilities to handle the stream volume it now needed to produce. Compressor stations manage the pressure of the oil and gas products in the system during processing. Low pressure is needed at the wellhead to maximize efficiency, but higher pressures are needed further along the line to both extract the desired products from the raw stream and send it all where it needs to go, often over great distances.
The solution: The first step in retrofitting The Client’s compressor station layout was reviewing the installation that was currently in place, analyzing both what the system was currently capable of handling as well as what changes would be needed. How would the new compressors communicate and coordinate with the other equipment at the site? Which one would be the main compressor and which one the backup? Which one would handle the 100% load and how would the others vary? With that decided, a new system layout was created, regulatory issues were ironed out, and parts for the new setup were procured and installed.
The results: After incorporating Halker’s compressor station upgrades at the plant, The Client saw a range of economic and production benefits.
Increased processing load: The Client owns more than 2,000 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines in North America and operates some 240,000 horsepower of compression serving the oil and gas industry. By adding to that capacity, The Client is now able to process more natural gas, from more sources, than it was previously.
Minimal downtime: By working with Halker to both retrofit its existing compressor facilities as well as convert readily-available equipment for natural gas compression, The Client was able to reduce what could have been a six-month project to one lasting less than six weeks. That limited the downtime for The Client’s systems and ensured that they were able to get back online at the new, higher capacity in the shortest amount of time possible, minimizing the project’s impact on The Client’s bottom line.
Land use: Halker’s compressor station designs for The Client’s sites made use of all available space, maximizing the potential value of each facility without forcing The Client to acquire more land in the process.
Scalability: By incorporating skidded equipment into its compressor station designs, Halker was able to provide The Client with a truly modular facility design that can be scaled up or down in the future as production needs and equipment availability fluctuate.