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Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This series of blogs is designed to chronicle our experience going through the 2012 Cleantech Open as a reference point for future applicants. Today’s blog: What to expect from the webinars (part two), the worksheets, and regional mock judging.

Now that we’re finished with the webinars, worksheets and mock judging, here’s what you can expect from each. As usual, these are the opinions of one participant going through the process in 2012.

1. Webinars: See Part One

I originally split my thoughts on the webinars into two posts, as I thought some dazzling, new, revelatory information would come to me at the end of the process, but, uh, it didn’t, so what I said about the webinars last time still applies. I will say that there are only eight weeks worth of webinars and you’ll do them all in a row before taking a week off. In the tenth and final week, the Cleantech Open organizers give a slew of announcements (on due dates, completing a survey on your generalist mentor, etc.) but there’s not much to it.

2. If You Don’t Use the Resources, Another Team Will

Hollie from Posit Partners: She was very helpful

As mentioned during the business clinics post, several companies donate free consulting time. In the Rocky Mountain region, this included Faegre Baker Daniels (legal), Merrick (engineering), Posit Partners (marketing) and YouSeeU (presentation help). You’ll also hopefully get some help from specialist mentors. In my region, this equated to one—a sustainability mentor—but each consultant we met with gave us assistance that benefited us both in the competition and in our day-to-day business.

Here’s the thing: In talking with several of the consultants, half of the participants in the Cleantech Open didn’t take them up on their gracious offer. These are professionals who make their living charging companies for the very services you’re getting for free, so if you skip out, you’re missing out. (That said, we passed on the legal and engineering help, as they couldn’t help with how far along we are as a business—something we mentioned to them at the clinics.) One of the consultants told us that their company had set aside a certain amount of hours to help Cleantech Open semifinalists, so with half the companies not taking the help, Vortex got the hours dedicated to them instead.

In short: Take the help and opportunities offered.

3. The Worksheets Will Frustrate You

Here’s where you’ll put in the most work: As the webinars wrap up, you will submit PDF versions of eight worksheets, a one-page executive summary, and an in-progress version of your investor presentation. In noting the obvious, if you try to put all of this off until the week beforehand, you’re screwed. We thought we’d try to wrap up and get our worksheets in early. Instead, we used most of that last week to refine the work that we’d already labored on.

Make the time for the worksheets—you’ll need it.

Your answers to the worksheets will depend on how far along you are as a company, but they cover your product/market fit, technology/product validation, business model, markets and getting to them, finances and funding, legal, management team, and your sustainability benefits. Each worksheet has several sections and many require additional uploads. For example: the financial worksheet also required an Excel spreadsheet of several years’ worth of earning/cost projections.

Here’s what Cleantech Open volunteers didn’t tell us early enough: The worksheet guidelines on their wiki and the guidelines on the main Cleantech Open site are different. Additionally, although we knew each worksheet had character limits—as the judges read several entries and we all need to learn how to be concise—the breakdown of sections and their associated character limits weren’t released until two weeks before the due date. This meant that some of the work we did during the first eight weeks was for naught.

Hands down, this lack of worksheet guidelines is the most frustrating part of the Cleantech Open and the one thing they must work to change for future semifinalists. In case this isn’t fixed, most sections allowed between 1,000 and 2,500 characters (or in Twitter terms: 7-17 tweets). Of course, if like us, you don’t have the section breakdown on each worksheet, these character limits won’t help, but it’s still more than we had in this area.

4. Mock Judging: Practice, Update, and Practice Again

Although there’s only one mock judging day, you actually have a couple of chances to present beforehand and get feedback. This is where you’ll use that investor (PowerPoint) presentation I mentioned above. Basically, you make a 10-minute presentation, receive 10 minutes of Q&A from the judges, then 10 minutes of feedback. The presentations are scheduled throughout the day and you don’t get to see other teams present. The content of your presentation is based on the worksheets (generally: the problem, how your company addresses it, why you do it better than the competition, how your business is successful, and why this is good for the environment). In the Rocky Mountain region, the event was held in Colorado, so if you don’t live there/fly in, you’d have to present via Skype (save for Arizona who had their own in-person presentation day).

I said there are a couple of other times to present before though. One is luck of the draw. At the business clinics, you can enter in to do an open version of the mock judging where only five teams present, but everyone can attend to learn. Vortex was fortunate enough to be one of those five. That said, of the 15 companies who attended the Rocky Mountain business clinics (of the 20-something semifinalists in our region), only seven put in to present. I can tell you that even though the Cleantech Open is more of an accelerator for each company involved—something that they do quite well—in my eyes, the competition for finalists in my region immediately boiled down to those other companies pursuing advantages and opportunities.

The other option was open to all semifinalists via getting your presentation critiqued on YouSeeU (where you upload a video of your investor presentation and you get feedback on what isn’t clear, your mannerisms, speech, etc.). From what I understand, most semifinalists did not take advantage of this offer either.

Again: Take the help and opportunities available.

In terms of what to keep in mind for your presentation:

  • Don’t use anything too flashy (video files crash, graphics don’t load up, etc.)
  • Less slides, fewer words, visuals and pithy phrases often work better (so you have to know your material)
  • Don’t read what’s on screen (people read faster than you can talk and wind up disengaging)
  • This is a clean tech competition, so sustainability is 20% of your grade
  • Don’t talk while the judges talk, don’t get defensive, and only answer the questions they ask (back up slides can help)

From here, there are only two events left: Final judging and the regional awards ceremony. Both are next month. If Vortex Tools is selected as a finalist, you’ll see more blogs on what to expect from the Cleantech Open. If not, I’ll upload a video of me crying sustainable tears. Considering I haven’t sussed out how to make the latter work, we’re aiming for the former.

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If you have any questions or comments, please email me at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager 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).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This series of blogs is designed to chronicle our experience going through the 2012 Cleantech Open as a reference point for future applicants. Today’s blog: What to expect from the webinars and the business clinics.

Last time I shared what to expect from the regional academy. This time, I’m covering what to expect from the 10 weeks of webinars and the business clinics that show up at the halfway mark. As usual, these are the opinions of one participant going through the process in 2012.

First off, Vortex is not yet done with the webinars, so this blog is designed to cover the first half of this process. Basically, every Tuesday for 10 weeks—save one bye week late in the sequence (meaning there are nine webinars total)—you’ll spend a few hours sitting at your computer. Hosted by the University of Phoenix, you log on and listen through your computer or phone while watching the presenter slides, essentially on a shared screen. You can ask the presenter questions by typing in a chat box—as the microphones of listeners are muted—as well as sending technical questions to the host.

Oh, and if you think that you’ll just turn on the webinar and do something else without anyone noticing, you’re wrong. I did a five-minute speaking slot on grant writing, and when you’re logged in as a presenter, there’s a list of who isn’t paying attention. They do not announce this feature. Make no mistake about it: You’re graded on everything; don’t think you can coast here.

Given the differing time zones, some regions get better slots, but in Colorado, the webinars go from 3:30 to 6:30 (MST), with a 15-minute break after the first one-hour-and-45-minute session before wrapping with the second one-hour session. (The webinars are recorded and available for viewing if you can’t make it live, but they’re not always uploaded fast, and as of this writing, one of the week four videos is still missing.) If you’re like most people, that time frame won’t be the easiest slot to work with, and you probably have a full-time job along with everything else that pulls on your schedule. This brings us to point one of what to expect:

1. You Get Out What You Put In

Early on in the process, Vortex sat down and figured out if we should really invest in the Cleantech Open as an established, in-revenue company, and if so, with how much effort. Upon seeing the time requirements of the webinars, we had this debate again. We’d spoken with another semifinalist company from a year ago, and upon asking what they got out of the Cleantech Open, they said, “Nothing.”

Given that we got a fair amount out of the national conference and the regional academy, we thought this was strange, but soon figured out this company didn’t actually do anything with the Cleantech Open. Like a few companies each year, they were selected as a semifinalist and then proceeded to do nothing, so they got nothing. In realizing the time cost and that there is a lot of effort involved with the worksheets, we decided that if we were going to stay in the competition, we’d have to go all out, even if the requirements are painful to aspects of our business at times. (If you haven’t noticed, it’s taken a bite out of my ability to regularly update this here blog.) As a result, we’ve gotten a fair amount out of the Cleantech Open, and we think we have a decent shot of making the finals, but there have been bumps along the way:

2. Technical Difficulties

This is the biggest gripe you’ll have about the webinars (and it’s similar to the issue of disorganization that’s been consistent throughout): technical issues.

By Kmashaye5220 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

From what I understand, 2012 is the first year the Cleantech Open is working with the University of Phoenix on these webinars, so while I expect a bump or two along the way, with the same issues popping up week after week, my grace has long since run out. At first I thought these issues reflected poorly on the University of Phoenix, but it seems the issues lie more with the Cleantech Open. Don’t get me wrong: the volunteers are kind and work hard; there are just not enough of them and too many things they can’t control.

The first week, the audio didn’t work at all through the computer, so you had to dial in. If you’re like me where you’re often out of the office and your home phone has long since gone the way of the dodo, three hours on a weekly webinar won’t do any favors for your cell phone bill. While there wasn’t a repeat of this incident, the computer audio cutting out for 30-45 seconds is common.

Additionally, there’s always background noise: a bird tweeting, some bighead conducting a business call for 20 minutes, random cussing, etc. Notice how I said above that listener microphones were muted? This means that it’s always one of the presenters who isn’t speaking at the time and hasn’t muted his/her phone or computer mike. Again, this is every single week. Next year, the Cleantech Open needs to give their webinar presenters basic training on how to mute their microphones and act professionally. Right now, it’s hard to value their expertise with this consistently happening.

Finally, that 15-minute break I mentioned above: well, it gets cut. A lot. Do I even have to say this is bad form? It gets replaced by testing presenter connectivity; by going long on question and answer sessions; and by unscheduled announcements. As a result of this, there isn’t a webinar that’s gone by that I feel couldn’t easily be 30-45 minutes shorter. I’m sure that there were plenty of times that the program popped up that I wasn’t paying attention, as most people aren’t wired to stare at a computer presentation for three-plus hours straight.

3. The Lowest Common Denominator Factor

As mentioned in the regional academy post, the knowledge and training you have going in, as well as how far along your business is, will shape what you get out of the Cleantech Open. A lot of the material continues on in the topics covered at the regional academy: the business model canvas, determining and navigating your market, sustainability, legal issues, and creating your management team, etc. As you can probably tell, for an established company, a lot of these topics have long since been addressed and early-stage thoughts don’t really apply, but I will say that these webinars help highlight all the areas where we do things right, all the problems we know about but haven’t fixed, and the places where change is possible. Every business, no matter how established, should have this kind of reflection time.

Remember, many of the companies in the Cleantech Open aren’t much farther than the idea stage, so unfortunately, everything gets boiled down to the lowest common denominator: presentations get simplified for the everyman; the same awkward, low-brow questions get asked every week (and yes, some of them stop just shy of asking the experts to do their work for them); all of which can be very frustrating for savvy or established companies who hope for a lot more depth. One guy, in a moment of frustration at the business clinics, declared the process a coarser version of bovine scatology. I won’t go that far, but it’s disappointing to feel held back by people who aren’t even sure if they’d like to try their hand at this whole small business thing.

However, since I’ve mentioned the business clinics, I’ll mention that they have far more strengths than weaknesses:

4. The Business Clinics are Different Than Announced, But Well Worth It

At the midway point of the webinars, you’ll attend classes for three days (8-4: Monday through Wednesday). If you’re in Colorado, you’ll attend these classes in person. Like all the other training sessions, you’ll be receiving far more information than your poor, little head can handle, but you’ll be well fed while you’re at it.

In addition to the public classes where you go deeper on many of the topics covered already, you’ll have several one-on-one meetings with experts donating their time. These people have expertise in a number of areas including business management, engineering, legal advice, etc., and we were very impressed with how well the Cleantech Open volunteers matched up these experts with our needs (for example: all of them had oil and gas connections/experience).

One of the engineers we were matched up with spent most of the hour arguing with us on the validity of the Vortex technology–not uncommon with engineers, as, for them, old textbook standards can trump real-life innovation–and this experience of going off-topic was common (albeit usually less combative with the other experts). I imagine if we were just starting out as a company and needed more help, the conversations wouldn’t have gone this route, but these off-topic treks served us well and the networking strength of the Cleantech Open remains a positive standard.

Another thing you’re supposed to do is bring rough drafts of your worksheets to go over with the experts during your one-on-one sessions, but this didn’t happen (at least not for us). Finally, there are a number of beneficial resources you’ll get out of the business clinics, but as these affect the latter part of the webinars/competition, I’ll delve into those in the next blog. I will say this: If you’re not volunteering and connecting with the resources available to you, you’re not only hurting your chances in the Cleantech Open competition, you’re missing out on some great perks for your business.

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In the next blog, I’ll cover the second half of the webinars as well as what you can expect from the worksheets. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager 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).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This series of blogs is designed to chronicle our experience going through the 2012 Cleantech Open as a reference point for future applicants. Today’s blog: What to expect from the multi-day regional academy.

Last time, I shared what to expect from the one-day national conference. This time, I’m focusing on the subsequent regional academy. As usual, these are the opinions of one participant going through the process in 2012.

If your company gets accepted to the Cleantech Open, at least two members of your team need to attend the 3-4 day regional academy (either in San José, CA, right after the national academy, or in Boston, MA, one week after that). If you’re not close to either state, the west coast academy (in San José, CA) makes the most sense in terms of budgeting flights / hotels. As Vortex Tools attended the one-day national conference in San José, we stuck around for the regional academy.

As covered in the national conference post, you’ll get to network with hundreds of companies—some large and established, some the success stories of tomorrow, many that will go belly up—and get your name out there more. For new and established companies alike, a chance for this type of vast networking is a welcome advantage. There’s the standard bit of disorganization, too—mostly in technical difficulties, presentations not starting on time, and materials not being available on the wiki—but these are fairly minor points and are the types of issues you can expect when you’ve got hundreds of people together.

However, here’s what to expect that hasn’t been covered before:

1. You’re Getting Your Money’s Worth

Early on, I covered the elephant in the room question: Is the Cleantech Open a scam?

Part of my answer was that you won’t fully know the value of the Cleantech Open until after the national conference and the regional academy, so I’ll delve into that more here:

First of all, this year, Autodesk gave every company in attendance a free copy of their design software. Although I don’t think it’s worth the $10,000 price tag—when really, software is worth what a company will pay for it—it’s certainly worth more than the expenses you’ll accrue thus far and it’s a valuable creation tool. Additionally, Autodesk met with and individually trained Cleantech companies on their software after the conference wrapped.

By Peter VDW (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAfter that, you’re receiving a fair education. The chair for the Rocky Mountain region said that the regional academy is like drinking from a fire hose. That’s accurate. The days are long and filled with a slew of info that you can’t possibly digest all at once, but hey, they feed you well while you’re at it.

2. Your Knowledge Will Shape the Value You Get From the Presentations

We were in a long room with two screens on either side of the stage and three microphone stands out in the crowd. Although your  table mates will stay the same—which seems strange to me, as I thought they’d mix us up—your table location will change each day. If you get a table way off to one side, you’ll see how easy it is to disengage from the presentations. Likewise, if you get a table in the center, even though it’s hard to see the screens, you’re essentially forced to stay engaged with a presenter 15 feet from your face.

There were presentations on sustainability, patent law, marketability, business plans, mock pitches, investor pitches, etc., and I can tell you that you can’t judge a presentation by its subject matter. In fact, the more creative the presentation format by the Cleantech Open, the worse and less informative it was. However, dynamic presenters like Steve Blank were well received, and the Cleantech Open agreed to send all participants a copy of his book when it comes out.

Make sure you get up and participate at the microphone at least a couple of times over the weekend. There are people who will go up every time (and frankly, hog the mike), so make sure you don’t wait when the crowd is invited to participate. Throughout the three-day academy, you’ll have a chance to work on your business model canvas (an earlier version of a business plan) and your elevator pitch. Get up there and get grilled by the presenters. You’re missing part of the experience if you don’t.

Overall though, how far along you are in your business and what you already know from experience will shape how much you get out of these presentations. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Not All Companies are Created Equal…

As stated before, one of the best things about the Cleantech Open is that they’re technology neutral. Whatever your company, whatever stage you’re at in your business, they want to see you grow and accelerate from where you’re at.

What you’ll find at the regional academy is companies in various stages of development. Vortex’s table mates were right out of college with an idea. Vortex Tools, well, we’re quite a ways along as a business, with having sold over 1,500 tools into worldwide markets, but there’s always room to grow. Wherever you’re at as a company, as long as you’re within the confines to enter the Cleantech Open, they’ll help you along.

4. …And Neither are the Mentors

Mentors are a big part of the Cleantech Open process, and they can also be one the greatest sources of frustration depending on what your expectations are.

When Vortex started in the Cleantech Open, we assumed that the generalist mentor you’re assigned early on would be able to answer questions about the process, but this was not the case, as our mentor was as new to the process as we were. (Don’t believe anything you read about multiple generalist mentors either—you get one.) As our mentor has a full-time job as a venture capitalist, he wasn’t available to come to the national conference and regional academy like other mentors. This meant that we lost out on a networking avenue, but some companies didn’t even have an assigned mentor yet. In talking to those companies, they had less-than-favorable view of the Cleantech Open at that stage.

That said, since the regional academy wrapped, we’ve received a lot of input from our mentor via weekly calls and worksheet feedback, but I’ll get into that in a later blog.

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In the next Cleantech Open blog, I’ll describe what you can expect from the 10 weeks of webinars. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager 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).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools shares the general breakdown of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluid.

I hear this question a lot: What is fracking fluid made of?

EnergyFromShale.org answers here (PDF warning):

http://www.energyfromshale.org/sites/default/files/Typical-Shale-Fracturing-Mixture-Makeup.pdf

Although 99.5% of fracking fluid is water and sand, many fracking fluid companies did not want to divulge their trade secret formulas when the outcry over fracking got louder. While that remaining 0.5% is not broken down in percentages, there’s clearly an intent to tie these additives to everyday household items like guar gum in ice cream and isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) in deodorant. Just make sure you don’t get those the wrong way round — nobody likes arm pit ice cream.

Something tells me this info won’t sway the environmental crowd, because  regardless of the chemical makeup, the process itself has still come under a lot of fire. Environmentalists contend that fracking chemicals are responsible for groundwater contamination, and that given the way water naturally flows to the path of least resistance, the veins created by the force of fracking not only provide routes for contamination, but fundamentally damage the rock structure, causing even more problems (some argue earthquakes). Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry believes that the science behind fracking is sound, and when enacted properly, no groundwater contamination occurs, as the fracking veins don’t spread anywhere near water. They also contend that many of the pollutants blamed on fracking chemicals are actually naturally occurring.

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Related articles:

Fracking in 2012

Wherefore Art Thou, Neutral Fracking Definition?

Delving Into the Pro Fracking Stance

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager 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).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools comments on EPA administrator Al Armendariz’s analogy on the need to “crucify” the oil & gas industry, and the war of words from both sides in April 2012.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADisused_Industrial_Building%2C_Off_Pasture_lane_-_geograph.org.uk_-_101328.jpg

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the oil & gas industry don’t get along. It’s one of those power-struggle relationships that shifts depending on whichever political party is in power — the EPA usually grows under a Democrat-controlled government, the oil & gas industry under a Republican-controlled government — but generally speaking, the two try to not say anything too overt against the other side.

Lately, however, that hasn’t been the case.

Ring the bell.

On April 5th, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) declared,  “We must cut the EPA’s legs off.”

While I think the EPA, like many regulatory government agencies, has unfortunate biases and agendas, there’s still a need for them; so in my grace, I will state that they should indeed still have legs (how nice of me).

Rep. Fincher, however, clarified his comment farther: “I hate to say that because it sounds rotten, but they are choking this country to death with legislating through the bureaucracy in Washington. I mean, we have fought dust legislation; we have fought water. You name it — it is something every day from the Environmental Protection Agency, and every group I talk to has the same message: ‘Please stop them.’ “

Then, on April 18th, the EPA issued air pollution rules for fracking wells. The rules state that oil & gas companies can flare (or burn off) the gas for now, but by 2015, that option will be gone. Instead, the oil & gas industry will be required to collect the gas. As a result, this will require pipelines and other equipment that, for many companies, is considered a hassle now.

Considering the environmental impact and energy value of the gas (plus the financial/energy value of the liquids in rich gas), this regulation against flaring is long overdue, but then again, Vortex Tools has been opposed to flaring gas rich with natural gas liquids (NGLs) for a long time, especially since these NGLs are valuable and Vortex makes them easy to recover.

Despite what many perceive to be a healthy step for energy efficiency, many in the oil & gas industry believe that the EPA will not stop regulating until fracking is banned. (This is, of course, exactly what environmentalists want.) This latest regulation isn’t the first step to that marker, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

And here we are today — April 26th, 2012 — where news broke on a video clip from 2010. In the video, top EPA official, Region Six Administrator Al Armendariz used the example of crucifixion to explain the EPA’s enforcement methods on the oil & gas industry:

The highlights:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere; they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not compliant with the law — find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, (and) you go aggressively after them.”

I’ll give Armendariz credit: He at least knew then that his analogy was “crude” and “not appropriate” (which laid the groundwork for his apology yesterday… two years after the fact). Past that, however, he should probably know that examples on ruthlessly torturing and murdering people to establish your power might not go over well.  Plus, apparently that Jesus fella changed how Christians, a large part of the population, will respond to casual crucifixion examples (even if they are historically accurate).

Since the fracking debate is especially heated this year, it’s no surprise that both sides are digging up questionable content from the past. Also in the obvious box, the Armenadiz video prompted the following obvious responses:

  1. The EPA defended its enforcement strategy;
  2. The White House issued a statement that Armendariz’ remarks do not reflect President Obama’s view; and
  3. Some Republicans are angry and again believe that the EPA needs to be shut down.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) announced he is launching an investigation into the EPA’s tactics. He believes the EPA intends to incite fear in the public with unfounded intimidation methods. He also believes the EPA forcefully and unfairly shuts down companies. “My point is, you can’t get the oil and gas without hydraulic fracturing, but the public doesn’t know that,” he said. “So if they can kill hydraulic fracturing they have successfully killed oil and gasoline production in America.”

Well, April’s not over yet. Maybe we’ll have a few more heated comments between the EPA and the oil & gas industry before the month is out.

EDIT: 4/30: Armendariz out: https://spirofloblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/epa-official-who-called-to-crucify-the-oil-and-gas-industry-resigns/

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager 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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Yeah, I said it in the title, but I’ll say it again: The updated Vortex Tools site is live!

Vortex Tools has redone its site to give oil and gas engineers easier access to Technical Reports (White Papers, case studies, and installation instructions) and Media (promotional materials and published articles).

In addition to featuring key surface and downhole applications, the Vortex site now features an updated list of the available Vortex tools, including:

The surface flowback (SX-FB) tool:  A large, East Texas independent (in conjunction with a leading flowback and well testing company) placed a Vortex SX-FB tool between the high-pressure separator and heater-treater and was able to reduce the production lost to the pit by one day, generating an additional $500,000 in previously “lost” production and significantly reduced their emissions impact.

The wireline retrievable (DX-WR) tool for increased gas storage recovery: With the DX-WR tool, underground gas storage companies are able to recover more of the gas stored in caverns, thereby profiting more in winter from the gas (usually) stored during the summer. Prior to the Vortex DX-WR tools, in the test region, 6% of the gas stored could never be recovered (the maximum recovery rate in this set of caverns was only 92%). After the DX-WRs were installed, in some cases, over 100% of the prior year injected gas was recovered.

For all this and more, please visit the new VortexTools.com

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager 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.) 

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Vortex Tools discusses how it’s possible to be a green technology in the oft-vilified oil and gas industry. From eliminating harmful vapors to recovering up to 10 times more natural gas liquids than conventional methods, Vortex Tools keep oil and gas wells running efficiently and safely.

It’s not hard to figure out that people are more inclined to go green when it has a financial benefit, since even the staunchest opponent of green issues likes more green in his wallet. Not surprisingly, this also applies to the oil and gas industry. Yeah, I know, every time I bring up the green side of oil and gas, I have to assure people I’m not writing fiction (or lying to cover for an ill-favored industry), but one of the ways Vortex Tools makes the oil and gas industry more energy efficient is to squeeze more profitability out of what’s already there.

Yes, seriously, on fire

A couple of alternative energy resources that regularly get burned along the way — yes, literally set on fire — are natural gas liquids (NGL) or condensates. This is because several states allow oil and gas companies to flare the natural gas (containing the NGLs) for a set period of time. For all the controversy about fracking, I’m surprised this practice is still allowed, considering the negative environmental impact of flaring and that the energy from this natural gas could be used to heat a half-million homes for a day. While I’ve yet to meet a monocle-wearing oil and gas executive who twiddles his mustache and laughs maniacally, sometimes it’s easy to see why the oil and gas industry are more easily pegged as villains. However, one of the reasons oil and gas companies often flare the gas is not because it isn’t profitable, it’s that with gas values (which have stayed relatively low despite the up-and-down values of oil) and the associated pipeline costs to take it to market, natural gas isn’t profitable enough.

With this in mind, Vortex Tools decided to market the benefits of its natural gas liquids recovery (SX-NGL) tool to oil and gas companies’ bottom line. (Sure, it’s easy to wag our “We are the 99%” fingers at corporations looking to make more money off environmental issues, but look at how an individual green responsibilities like recycling have tanked when homeowners have to help pay for the process instead of subsidies.) In enabling these oil and gas companies to make a greater profit, alternative energy resources are maximized, and harmful environmental practices are eliminated.

By spinning gases back into liquids, the Vortex tools knock out more natural gas liquids like butane, pentane and propane—valuable liquids that are sold for three times the value of the gas (at current rates). Additionally, oil and gas producers have to pay a large treatment cost to remove these “nuisance liquids” from the gas to purify it to a sellable quality, but since the valuable liquids are removed before the processing plant, the producer gets greater value, the plant gets a purer gas ready for sale and the consumer gets more alternative fuels. (Processing plants can also use these Vortex SX-NGL tools to purify their product.) One East Texas producer studied these Vortex NGL recovery tools for 15 months and found that, in one year, they had generated over $2 million worth of NGLs (as well as reducing their gas treatment costs) from a $200,000 investment (which includes the cost of the Vortex tools and associated tanks/installation). Again, this profit number is before calculating all the processing costs saved.

A brochure about this increased NGL recovery can be found here.

For more applications—including how Vortex downhole tools extend the decline curve of an oil and gas well, allowing it to free flow under its own production without major intervention—as well as technical papers and case studies, please visit vortextools.com.

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

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% 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.) 

Read Full Post »

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