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Posts Tagged ‘Industrial’

Vortex Tools shares a graphic of the oil rig developments rising up since 2011, then rapidly declining in early 2015.

Over the last six months, I’ve shared a few posts on the impact of low oil prices (see here, here, and here).  However, since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s the steep drop in active rigs in a graph. Yet thanks to modern efficiency, you’ll notice oil production continues to climb:

active rigs v oil production

If a picture is worth a thousand words how much is an animation worth? Head over to Bloomberg to watch an animation of the US-wide oil rig count falling by over 45% from 1,595 rigs in October 2014 to 866 rigs in March 2015.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

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Vortex Tools covers changes in oil and gas litigation and education efforts in Colorado.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) hosts a monthly ambassador series. The goal is to help educate the public on a number of oil and gas issues.

Overall, pro-oil and gas people are really stepping up their public messaging in Colorado for a couple of reasons:

  1. Colorado is largely seen as a purple state turning blue: Translation: Large key cities like Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins have become more liberal over the past 10 years, changing the political climate of what once was a largely conservative state. Currently, Democrats are likelier to be opposed to oil and gas than Republicans.
  2. Moratoriums and bans on fracking are passing in meaningful places: When Boulder banned fracking, much like Vermont’s ban, I considered it equivalent to a landlocked state banning the ocean, because they don’t have any oil and gas production, but now places with production are starting to see those legal moves, too. As mentioned last time, Colorado now has the most stringent air quality regulations in the nation.

As a result, Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) are running TV ads on fracking facts, and overall, the oil and gas industry is realizing that if they don’t start speaking up (from a perspective other than that of large, multinational oil and gas companies), decisions will be based on info from just one side. As is, the pro oil and gas crowd is launching lawsuits against what they view as illegal methods in passing recent bans and moratoriums.

(The legal route may have a negative connotation to it, but both those for and against oil and gas use the legal system. I’ve seen the public step-by-step tactics to get fracking banned in a town—banning fracking basically shuts down the oil and gas industry—and while it isn’t pretty, it is effective.)

Beyond that, the pro side of oil and gas is trying to humanize the issue in a couple of ways:

  1. In understanding the concerns of the Average Joe: Most people have some reservations about oil and gas, especially when it comes to drilling near their home. It’s a fair and understandable concern, one that the oil and gas industry up until lately hasn’t valued. Part of that stems from a ‘you don’t understand’ mentality, but the oil and gas industry didn’t necessarily understand that ill-informed people vote to pass laws all the time, so even if you think someone doesn’t really know what they’re talking about on an issue, their vote carries the same weight. Now that this is starting to click, there’s a greater effort to share pro-oil and gas education.
  2. In humanizing the oil and gas industry: One debate tactic I don’t like is making caricatures of the opposition, because if they’re not real people, you don’t have to care. The oil and gas industry is often viewed as a bunch of tobacca-spittin’ fat cats who long for greater profits over safety. Sometimes they don’t even get that far and it’s a faceless industry designed to squash and ignore the rights of the common people.

As a result, the COGA ambassador series is equipping and encouraging people to identify themselves as workers in the oil and gas industry.

Note that I, for one, do not chew tobacco and/or go out of my way to put your health at risk (though admittedly, there’s a small part of me that hopes that one day I can pull off Jesse Ventura’s look in “Predator”).

Point #2—humanizing the oil and gas industry—is key, especially when people realize that jobs are at stake when cities start crippling the oil and gas industry (by banning fracking, etc.) COGA estimates that 7-9% of Colorado jobs are related to oil and gas. Even with Colorado unemployment rates dropping to 6.2% in January 2014 (when it was 7%+ in 2013), for many people, it’s understood—especially as the job rates issue has gone on for so long and the statistics are often lower than the reality—that you don’t mess with job security.

It’ll be interesting to see how Colorado evolves throughout the year.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools shares a cartoon on oil and gas profits vs. the taxes they have to pay. 

You know how there’s that mental image many people have of oil and gas executives rolling around on piles of easily made money? This cartoon came out a while ago, but it recently made the rounds again. Sadly, make the profit 2-4 cents lower per gallon and it’s more accurate:

oil tax pic

There are large funds coming into oil and gas, but as there are also large associated expenses, there isn’t that much left over compared to other industries.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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I think you and I are gonna be friends

Vortex Tools will take part in a shark tank during Denver Startup Week (9/16-9/20). We’ll present sometime between 3-4:15 PM on Wednesday, September 18th.

With our application in reducing CO2 emissions and recovering 10 times more natural gas liquids than pigging alone, Vortex Tools has been invited to present at a shark tank (read: aggressively judged competition) during Denver Startup week—a five-day event to promote clean energy applications in Colorado.

Given that it’s a shark tank, it won’t be pretty. Either we’ll win or I’ll wind up playing the role of a great white shark on some judge’s leg (all I need to do is get two rows of jagged teeth and then figure out how to dislocate my jaw for better snacking).

If nothing else, anything remotely shark-related is an excuse to share two minutes of idiocy from “Sharknado.” This montage is not safe for work (or safe for anyone with more than 50 brain cells):

For more on Denver Startup Week events, see here.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools shares how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halted their probe linking fracking to groundwater contamination, and what this means in the grand scheme of politics and energy development.

*For the basic pro and against viewpoints of the practice (with some added insight to the pro-fracking stance) see hereFor commentary on how difficult it is to get a neutral view of fracking, see here.

At the end of 2011, the EPA released a report linking fracking to groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyoming. They stated that the chemicals found in the drinking water were, a) above safe and acceptable standards for drinking water; and b) consistent with fracking chemicals. Although many people already had opinions on the practice, this marked the first time the government had linked fracking to groundwater contamination.

The anti-fracking crowd viewed this report as conformation of the obvious—that you can’t “damage” formations without consequence. The pro-fracking crowd—including oil and gas companies like EnCana: the company accused of groundwater contamination in Pavilion, WY—viewed it as a premature statement with negative consequences to the energy industry. Both sides felt like there needed to be more investigation to confirm the results, because it may be nuts that you can set your tap water on fire, but just because an oil and gas company is drilling nearby, that doesn’t automatically mean that they’re to blame.

By Zarateman (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t speak the language, but this *might* just be an anti-fracking poster… Dotting the i with a skull is a bit of a giveaway

At the time, the EPA stated that it would continue their investigation to conclusively link fracking to groundwater contamination. As of October 2012, the EPA stated that another round of tests had turned up similar results. However, this week, the EPA announced that it’s dropping their investigation to have independent scientists confirm the link between the two.

So… what happened?

Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. Someone like EnCana would view the EPA dropping their case as a victory, noting that the EPA is essentially stopped their investigation to prove the tie between fracking and groundwater contamination because they can’t. As for the EPA’s prior findings? EnCana says, “the EPA’s results were based on faulty testing.”

Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute, said, the “EPA has to do a better job, because another fatally flawed water study could have a big impact on how the nation develops its massive energy resources.” Many would argue that the damage from the 2011 report has already been done.

The EPA, of course, says otherwise. According to EPA spokesman, Tom Reynolds, “We stand behind our work and the data, but EPA recognizes the state’s commitment to further investigation.” Others would argue that there are more important things to do with the federal budget at this time. The EPA has stated that they reserve the right to open back up their investigation at any time, even if, you know, they won’t (unless it’s politically advantageous at the time).

Part of the problem was that the EPA couldn’t find expert peer reviewers for their report. The Federal Register announced that reviewers, “needed to be free from the appearance of any conflict of interest and have the necessary expertise to review the findings.”

Free from conflict of interest… in regards to fracking… Right…

Not surprisingly, the public comments period got extended three times, and they still didn’t get what they needed.

So… what now?

The EPA is allowing Wyoming to continue their investigation and at least one side of the debate won’t believe the “independent” results—whatever they are.

In a joint statement, the state and the EPA announced that they do not “plan to rely upon the conclusions” of the EPA studies. With the EPA (formerly) heading up the investigation, no one would’ve been surprised if fracking and groundwater contamination came out linked. Now that a (largely) pro oil and gas state is heading up the investigation—with EnCana putting in a $1.5 million grant to help the process along—no one will be surprised when the new conclusions go the opposite way of what the EPA found.

Regardless of whether most people have already made their decision on the value of fracking, there are laws being made based on what government and independent testing have to say. A state like Vermont, who jumped to be the first state to ban fracking in 2012, doesn’t count. Many viewed it as a political move, as they hardly have any fracking applications to ban in the first place.

And really, that’s what most of this is: The movement of political weight. It isn’t one political party or the other. It’s all of the above. 

Don’t believe me? I’ll remind you that an EPA representative recently called to “crucify” the oil and gas industry right as a pro-oil and gas Congressman said that, “We need to cut the legs off the EPA.” Call me crazy, but I call the (metaphorical) threats of death and limb removal, even to entities, to mean that the debate isn’t going to be fair.

While I figured that it wouldn’t take the current political administration long to come against the oil and gas industry, it came quicker than I thought, as the Obama administration announced to reduce the amount of federal land designated for oil shale development by two-thirds.

Personally, I translate that as, “Okay, oil and gas industry, we’ve still got the perception war won for now. You’ve currently taken the data war in regards to fracking, but we’re going to limit your pursuit of that energy resource anyway.” More on that next time.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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cleantech open logoI’m pleased to announce that SpiroFlo qualified as a semi-finalist for the 2013 Cleantech Open (CTO) for our residential hot water savings and industrial biofilm removal applications.

If you’ve followed this blog—gnawing on every tasty word (and why wouldn’t you?)—you’d know that I had a lot to say, good and bad, about going through the 2012 CTO as Vortex Tools. A fair question then to ask is: Why are you doing it again?

There are two main reasons:

  1. The Cleantech Open receives criticism and makes changes: I’m not going to say that all the changes came from what I said—common problems become commonly shared complaints—but I’m as blunt in-person and I had opportunity to share my thoughts with the CTO planners. Regardless of how it happened, this year they’ve changed the overall judging scheme. I still think they’re going to be painfully shorthanded volunteer-wise, but I’m willing to wait and see.
  2. SpiroFlo is a better fit: Last year, we entered thinking that the CTO is a competition, and chose our more established, more successful green oil and gas company, Vortex Tools. While the CTO is a competition, it’s designed more to accelerate smaller companies, making SpiroFlo a better fit.

I highly doubt I’ll write as much on the CTO as I did before, but I do like that it keeps me apprised of innovation in the green sector, as well as the same old flawed thinking that doesn’t seem to budge. Odds are there will be a speaker who, A) believes nuclear energy and/or oil and gas can be done away with today; and B) we can do so because of what some non-American country (usually Japan or somewhere in Europe) is doing with wind and solar.

I’m a fan of some of these technologies—living in a dry state, seeing what Germany has done to implement green roofs makes me jealous—but there’s a misguided belief among some environmentalists that multi-year, best scenario projections will equate to reality. Even by favorable estimates, Japan’s current wind and solar use could offset maybe 10% of their nuclear energy use, and that’s before you get into the painful realities of what happens when you try to move large amounts of business from one entity to another.

However it goes, I’m sure I’ll annoy some people when I take to the microphone. I’m looking forward to it.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools explains why, with fuel costs and slim profit margins, the airline industry is one of the likeliest to not go green.

By Flickr user Axwel [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsI’ve mouthed off a lot about airlines lately (see here and here). Maybe it’s just that I’m experiencing their joys and troubles more often from traveling. For instance, the fact that a plane can leave the gate, then stall on the runway while luggage gets loaded on late, while still allowing the airline to check the box for an “on time” departure is indicative of the level of meaningless standards.

But here’s my bent today: I realized a while ago that the airline industry has no motivation to go green.

Many environmentalists don’t like oil and gas, but there are motivations to keep the industry cleaner. In the event of an oil spill, there are fines, cleanup costs, public relations pains, etc. In the event of too many CO2 emissions from the wellhead, the producer gets fined until they’re in compliance with air laws. Additionally, regulations keep changing—usually in a way that’s stricter on oil and gas pollution. Flaring gas is continuing to get scaled back and I doubt fracking will make it, in its current form, through another 10 years.

Vortex vapor recovery tool

Vortex vapor recovery tool

In working in the oil and gas sector—using Vortex Tools to vastly reduce CO2 emissions and to recover 10 times more valuable natural gas liquids to make a profit while burning a cleaner flare—I can tell you that all of these aspects equate to motivation to make a dirty industry cleaner.

But airlines don’t really have this kind of motivation.

Like any other industry, they can spin their efforts as green, but it’s about intent and application. Everything the airlines do is to get planes in the air with less cost. The biggest obstacle to this is the price of fuel. While they can’t control the cost of the commodity, they can control the weight they’re putting on the plane. You may be familiar with examples of airlines using lighter seats, thinner and lighter magazines, and not serving food on shorter flights.

(The exception to all these rules is if you pay a premium—for larger seats, for extra luggage, for food on the short ride.)

Then there are some uglier examples of controlling weight. While we’re seeing people get dinged for their bag being overweight, we’re also seeing examples of people getting dinged for they themselves being overweight. I get it logistically—I’m a small man and the airline experience gets me way too familiar with the odors and feel of the people around me—but you can see how this can get cruel quick. I’ve got some larger friends who understand that they need to buy a first class ticket if they want to fly comfortably, but what happens when you put these kinds of requirements on say, an obese kid?

In addition, the cynical part of me is waiting to hear some secret audio from a worldwide airline executive complaining about how fat Americans are ruining profit margins. In the mean time, Samoa Air has already introduced a “pay what you weigh” model.

During the Cleantech Open, I met a company, Molon Labe, who made a sliding airline seat. The value of this is that you could load / unload the plane faster (slide over the middle seat on your side and go), get a faster turnaround (using energy in the air instead of wasting it on the ground), and, according to them, saving airlines $75,000 a day in fuel costs (not sure how many planes would need to install their seats to get that number, but it’s still significant).

As the Cleantech Open had a large sustainability component, Molon Labe’s argument was that this kind of efficiency could allow a plane to have more flights in a day, allowing airlines to remove planes from their fleet entirely. In theory, less planes = less energy use = less environmental impact, but from what I’ve seen of this industry, less energy use + greater flight turnaround = more flights in a day. More flights in a day = more environmental impact, and, if it makes sense and the profit margin is good enough, more planes in the fleet.

It’s a reality that rarely gets pushed back on companies touting green, but more efficiency does not always equal greater sustainability.

In the end, regardless of what I think of certain airline practices, I know it’s a tough industry. The profit margins are surprisingly slim and most airline companies go bankrupt at some point. As comedian Louis CK noted, it is amazing that we can sit in chairs and fly through the sky to the other side of the world (see 2:00 on — yes, the clip is in English):

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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