A combination of digital innovation and brawny equipment is driving improvements in oil and gas production technology to help increase production, reduce emissions and lower operating costs.

Along those lines, oilfield technology provider ChampionX is focused on using brains, or digital tech, along with brawn, or improved mechanical equipment, to help make oil and gas production more efficient and effective with fewer emissions. It is, in many ways, a blending of old and new technologies in the constant effort to help customers meet their business goals, Paul Mahoney, president of ChampionX’s production and automation technologies business segment, told Hart Energy.

Overall, technology can help make production operations more efficient by helping find hidden barrels, increase production volumes and lower lifting costs, among other things, Mahoney said. It also helps businesses do more with less.

“Technology is definitely stepping in and helping in that regard,” he said.

And it’s also helping on the ESG side of things, he said, by helping companies measure and manage emissions and more sustainably develop their projects.

Understanding the data

When it comes to innovating, ChampionX is “coming at it from a production chemistry side, from the artificial lift equipment side, and also the digital tools side,” Mahoney said. “All three areas have a lot of opportunity for continued innovation.”

Paul Mahoney ChampionX headshotWhen it comes to innovating, Champion X is “coming at it from a production chemistry side, from the artificial lift equipment side, and also the digital tools side. All three areas have a lot of opportunity for continued innovation”—Paul Mahoney, ChampionX

Mahoney said ChampionX’s spend on research and development has increased as a percentage of sales over five years ago, and even more than its percentage of sales from a decade ago.

Oil and gas producers collect vast amounts of data, particularly around performance.

“We collect a lot of data and information around how effective our chemistry is. We collect a lot of data and information around our own equipment like lift tools, and how they’re performing,” Mahoney said.

And, of course, with the increase in available data, ChampionX is working to help customers be able to access and understand and use the data to meet their business objectives, he added.

“It’s not an easy task. It’s a challenging task,” he said.

Now, though, it’s possible to bring all that data into a data lake, where it becomes possible to gain true insights based on the combination of data.

“We’re on the front edge of that,” he said.

ChampionX is also “at the intersection of trying to take advantage of all of our data sources,” he said.

That means one focus of the company is in the digital arena—the brains, according to Mahoney.

“We have sensing technologies. We have a whole host of control communications, hardware capabilities, we’re leveraging cloud computing,” he said. “With some of our technology we’re on the front end of using edge computing.”

Digital technologies bring agility, he said. They also help companies find ways to take advantage of the valuable data they have collected from their operations, he said.

Brains and brawn combine

ChampionX has been investing in technologies around continuous measuring and monitoring of methane. That calls for not just sensors at well sites, but also a means of transmitting the data.

There is currently a “huge installation base of infrastructure” where such monitoring is required, he said. The digital technologies help make it possible to take care of hardware designed and developed 10 years ago while also introducing edge devices with current cellular communication chip stacks, he added.

“It has connectivity to the infrastructure and to the future,” Mahoney said. “There has been a lot of work in edge devices.”

And that pairs with the equipment side of things. As companies seek more efficiencies, ChampionX is working to make its brawny equipment more effective through better pumps, better motors, better gas handling and such, Mahoney said.

And one of the ways brains and brawn combine best is through autonomous control. Currently, ChampionX offers autonomous control for rod lift.

“We’re working on that for more complex problems,” Mahoney said. “We have the vision of being able to control an [electrical submersible pump] ESP solution through autonomous control … and we are taking steps toward that.”

Editor’s note: All images courtesy of ChampionX.