Hybrid energy comes to oil patch generators creating greater efficiencies

Fuel Fix:
Oil and gas producers, including those with drilling operations in the Eagle Ford Shale, face increasingly tight margins as the price of a barrel of crude has hovered in the low $40s.

Drilling can require large on-site power generators. And FlexGen, a Houston-based company that created a hybrid system that plug into existing generators and convert and store energy from multiple sources, says it can save companies significant amounts in fuel costs and maintenance spending.

The technology, introduced in September, is being used on seven wells for three different operators, says FlexGen CEO Josh Prueher. The company also has contracts for 60 more rigs for nine major independent shale players.

A recent infusion of capital helped the company fill the demand for renting its turn-key hybrid power generators. In August, FlexGen completed a $25.5 million round of financing led by Denver-based Altira Group and the venture arms of Caterpillar and General Electric. The money will let the company expand operations and develop more efficient artificial lift products, which bring oil to the surface by increasing the pressure within a reservoir.

A: Conceptually, the way our technology works is not too different from a Prius drivetrain. What we do is that exact same thing, but we do it for generators.

A: In North America people generally think of generators as backup systems. The layman just thinks of a generator that turns on when a hurricane blows through, but in 40 percent of the world, that generator is running all the time. They don’t have electricity from anywhere else. Forty percent of the earth operates off-grid, that’s just population based, and most industries operate off-grid because they don’t have grid-supplied power in the places where they have to operate.
The potential market for the system goes well beyond the oil patch.  For now it is adding to the efficiencies that the US has added to the mix in the face of the drop in the price of oil.  It is another reason OPEC's strategy of attempting to cut US production is failing.


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