Jordan Blum, editorial director, Hart Energy: We're here at the DUG Haynesville Conference in Shreveport, and I'm joined by Seth Moore, the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Catalyst Energy Services.
We were just talking on stage. Can you kind of explain and take me through the Vortex Prime completions product?
Seth Moore, executive vice president and COO, Catalyst Energy Services: Yes, I'm glad to Jordan. The Vortex Prime is a product that we conceptualized over five years ago, and we went down the path of creating this technology which is based around taking a military-grade gas turbine and directly coupling that to a pump. So we take this very lightweight, small yet high horsepower-producing engine, and through a drive train connect that to a reciprocating pump. And what that means is that we gain efficiency because of horsepower, and we're throwing horsepower at the problem. It's what the industry's done for a long time. So we've just said, ‘Hey, you can only get so much horsepower out of a diesel reciprocating engine. Let's do something different. And oh, yeah, by the way, let's let it burn natural gas.’
And, you know, at the time, I'd love to tell everybody we're this visionary company with ESG in mind. We understood that there were environmental emissions aspects to burning natural gas, but I don't think we realized how—in the post-COVID world—how important that would become. And I don't think we truly realized at the time how much those environmental savings would be. We understood that for anything like that to work, there has to be an economic component of it. And the economics of it are just compelling, both on the capital side and on just the operating expense side. So we really think we're onto something that we say changed the face of frac. And I know frac is kind of the dirty word these days, but I think we can do it and help in this energy transition and do it in a sustainable, economically sensible and environmentally-friendly way. So that's probably a big over explanation, but that's it.
JB: No, you know, when it comes to the operators, you hear scale matters. They're trying to build up their inventory, but here, we're trying to get smaller. You're talking about shrinking pad sizes, packing more horsepower into smaller products, right?
SM: Yeah. So, you know, customers tell us, and it depends on spacing by basin, but where they have to go and they have to pay the landowner for some amount of land to create a pad to do this work on. If they can pay for less land, that's real savings to them. Of course, there's environmentally-sensitive areas and certainly areas that are owned by the government. So if you're disrupting any type of protected species, that becomes a an issue. So if you can have less disruption, there's an advantage there. And because this technology is so compact, there's about a 55% reduction in the amount of size needed for this technology to do the same work that diesel technology does, conventional technology does. So that has real quantifiable savings at the end of the year, both in terms of, the economic savings, but also in terms of environmental savings.
JB: Now obviously jobs are important, but we're talking here about getting more people out of harm's way, reducing maintenance. Can you elaborate a little there?
SM: We subscribe to the belief that less is more, and a conventional, let's call it a traditional frac fleet. You're probably going to have about 20 pumps on it. And these things are, you know, 75 feet long. They weigh, you know, hundred thousand plus pounds. They require lots of maintenance. Complicated is a word that we use a lot when we describe them. And we're replacing that with eight of something that's less than 50 feet long. So great size reduction, fewer components. The turbine itself is a very precise yet simple machine. You know, there's not much to break on a turbine. It either kind of works or it doesn't. I mean, if you think about it, that's what you want, right? I flew here yesterday and I was glad that the turbines on each wing were performing as they should. And I didn't really worry about some of the things that could happen to maybe some traditional prime mover type engines like diesels.
So we just simplified it. There's less interactions that workers have to have with this technology, which improves safety and worker safety, and that's important to us. I’m old enough now to have children, actually grandchildren, and my children are in the industry. We can leave a legacy of improved safety. That's important for us.
JB: Great. Thanks for sharing and thanks so much for joining us here at this Hart Energy Live exclusive in DUG Haynesville in Shreveport. For more information, please read online at hartenergy.com.
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