Patented technology brings significant cost savings to energy companies
By Lynette Lefsrud
Black powder is a contaminant found in hydrocarbons that costs companies millions of dollars a year, but few people know how detrimental it really is. Filtering out black powder is the top priority for Roger Simonson, the founder and CEO of Calgary-based One Eye Industries and its sister company, Black Powder Solutions.
Roger says that black powder is very abrasive and it shows up virtually everywhere in the hydrocarbon system – from the formation, through the pumps and compressors, the pipelines, refineries, and even in new oil that is delivered to the consumer.
“I want to extend the life of pipes, pumps, compressors, turbines, meters, valves, seals – everything is destroyed by this stuff,” said Roger. “We have designed a system that will remove it. It is inexpensive and highly efficient – it will extend pipeline and component life.”
Black powder is primarily composed of iron sulfides and iron oxides (ferrous materials) and is typically below 10 microns in size down to the sub-micron level. Roger started One Eye Industries (OEI) in 1995 working on rotating and reciprocating equipment – originally targeting black powder in the automotive industry – and he created a patented magnetic filtration technology.
He switched directions however, and realized that the oil and gas industry and industrial applications were a better fit.
“This technology, magnetic filtration, has endless applications,” said Roger, “The company has grown around the world. We are in 40 different countries now.”
One of his biggest success stories is a company in the United States. Roger shared that this company has a facility which loads hydrocarbons onto an ocean vessel and they have a limited time to fill the vessel. Any loading that goes beyond their time, results in demurrage charges. According to Roger, the company sometimes has black powder that plugs their traditional filters. Cleaning the system results in shutting down pumping, purging the whole system which typically means they incur demurrage charges.
“Their average cost every year was $200,000 in demurrage charges on one loading dock – they have 5,” said Roger. “We put in system for around $14,000, and they went one whole year without ever having a shutdown. The projected cost savings on 5 docks $986,000. I think they are happy,” he added.
When asked what makes their magnetic filtration different from any other magnetic filtration that has been around for years, Marketing Manager Kimberley Simonson answered, “This is where the patent to our technology comes from – Roger designed a magnetic technology with radial magnetic fields; the surface area of capture is significantly increased to filter sub-micron level contamination including non-ferrous particulate.”
Roger added, “The reason ours work better than any other ones on the planet is that we found a way to make them 10x stronger. It’s a patented design.”
One of the companies’ biggest advocates is Dale Constantine, Reliability Specialist at STEP Energy Services. Dale started working with OEI/BPS in 2001 and started by putting the magnetic filters on a few twin pumpers. Working with his management team and the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Dale was able to convince the OEM that a new filtration system needed to be added.
“Knowing where my contaminants are coming from is 99% of the battle,” said Constantine. “I put in filtration where there was none. OEM said there was filtration but there wasn’t really any filtration.”
The modification was approved and the return was immediate said Constantine. “We started pulling the filters and they were coated in just 3-4 months of operations.”
So then Constantine started putting magnetic filtration on over 500 pieces of equipment including gear boxes. During a presentation he did at Noria (a training organization for the lubrication and filtration industry), Constantine shared with his audience that his filtration kit, which includes magnetic filtration, has been able to reduce operating costs on a gear box from $6.05/hour to $2.04/hour.
“My push in this industry is the mindset of reliability,” said Constantine.
Wrapping up with Roger, he shared that his filtration system can take out more than just ferrous materials.
“We also take out the silica, the calcium, phosphorus, we take all the dirt out, salt, sulphur.
We do this in two ways – cross contamination – Black Powder marries up with the non-ferrous contamination and we can pull both out. The other way is static adhesion.
Because we are able to take out ferrous and non-ferrous without any flow restriction, we are changing how the filtration is done on rotating equipment, and we are changing the pipeline world.”