Concord Energy Holdings is a vertically integrated company that delivers exceptional service in natural gas and crude oil marketing, crude hauling, well services, rig moving and produced water services. High safety standards are integral to all of its operations.
Concord is leveraging its relationships and expanding into new markets, providing a focused suite of services to new and existing customers. Concord Produced Water Services handles water and wastewater with customized treatments in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming and North Dakota. Leading with marketing, Concord can provide bolt-on service, such as midstream services and crude hauling, as it has done in North Dakota, Colorado and, in the spring of 2015, in Texas.
With a growing industry need to manage water, Concord Produced Water Services (CPWS) uses mobile treatment units with filter press technology to reuse and recycle both produced and flowback water in oil and gas operations. Mobile water recycling offers producers scalable onsite benefits including lower trucking and disposal costs (both fresh and produced water), dramatically reduced freshwater volumes for well completion and, most importantly, allows for additional recovery of crude oil that typically is lost at third-party disposal wells. Taken together, these benefits can help save customers hundreds of thousands of dollars during the life of a well.
CPWS has been operating mobile treatment units (MTUs) for the past four years in several basins. The company has been able to recycle a variety of water qualities, including flowback and produced water, to a standard compatible with many pressure pumping fluid types, such as cross-linked gels and “slick” fluids.
Concord has three mobile units in use and three more on order for delivery later this year. The units can process up to 10,000 barrels of water a day currently, but future units will be capable of treating volumes up to 20,000 barrels/day each. CPWS also provides transportation services for fresh and produced fluids, utilizing pipelines and hoses.
The ability to provide mobile services, rather than a centralized facility, is a key differentiator. For easy transport, the MTUs are inside skid-mounted shipping containers 40 feet long by 8 feet wide, housing all the treatment equipment such as pumps, the control panel and chemical dosing systems. Separate tankage has compartments for dissolved air floatation, oil and water separation, microbubble filtration and additional proprietary technologies. A third container stores chemicals and other equipment. The containers may stay at an operator’s location from four to eight weeks, or up to several months depending on drilling activity.
“Sometimes, we may be able to stay in the same spot for longer periods, depending on the operators’ logistical set-up,” Manager of Engineering and Technology Ryan Hutcherson points out. “We have stayed on the same location for as long as a year. However, sometimes the drilling program can span hundreds of miles, requiring more frequent relocation. So it’s common for us to move five or six times a year to service a single operator.
“We get a thick sludge that is a byproduct of our treatment process, which we can then dewater – press it and squeeze all the water out – and we’re left with a dry cake similar to topsoil or just dirt,” Hutcherson explains. “The dry cake can go to a landfill, and we can dispose of it much more economically than water-based disposal options. Operators are paying up to $22 a barrel plus trucking to get rid of the sludge, which we can dispose of for significantly less cost.”
Independent of its mobile treatment units, Concord operates mobile dewatering systems. “We can pull up onsite and separate all the solids and liquids from a large array of different tanks or processes,” Hutcherson says. “Without any treatment – without separating the solids out – this water has to go to a special landfill that charges a very high price – roughly 52 cents a gallon – for this sludgy waste. But once we’re done with it, the water can go to a regular disposal at maybe 50 or 60 cents a barrel, and the solids go to a landfill at $20 per ton instead of $3,500 a truckload.”
Sludge build-up and disposal can be a significant operational and financial burden for many operations. Most companies are not set up to provide their own dewatering systems. “They don’t want to allocate the resources to purchase the equipment,” Hutcherson maintains. “They don’t want to be responsible for hiring and managing a whole separate department. It’s much more efficient for them to have experts supervise the whole operation on a fee basis.”
Concord Energy Transportation provides trucking services from the wellhead to pipeline or rail, a big selling point for the Concord marketing team, which can provide customers with seamless and efficient end-to-end throughput of their product. Additionally, Concord can utilize excess capacity in the fleet and transport crude for third parties with the ability to offer a proprietary electronic tracking system.
“That is one of our selling points for third-party barrels not marketed by Concord,” Vice President of Field Operations Andrew Kidd points out. “Our tracking system will help establish a higher level of service for all our customers. We have found in the past that a lot of companies are hauling oil and not tracking every drop, which can lead to significant lost volumes. The Concord team built an internal system that tracks oil from dispatch to delivery point. If a driver were to experience any volume discrepancy, or even drop a whole load at the wrong station, we would know that and be able to correct it.”
Company and leased trucks have GPS tracking, electronic logs, electronic ticketing and data, and an electronic ticketing and dispatch system that sends the location of the next load for pickup to a truck when it completes a delivery. The trucks have a proprietary dispatch application that links with Concord’s other base software to provide up-to-the-minute, detailed load information.
Every 24 hours, the data from the field is matched with dispatch data and verified. “We’re in the process every day of establishing tighter and tighter protocols, constantly refining our system,” Kidd says. “We truly want to account for every drop of oil that we transport.”
The company has a fleet of 20 trucks in North Dakota and 14 in Colorado, and is currently expanding into the West Texas market. “We’re in the process of getting ready to purchase equipment to get our fleet built up in Texas,” Kidd reports. “Our strategy going forward is to have about 30 to 40 trucks in key strategic markets.”
Continuous Safety Process
Concord’s diverse businesses present unique challenges when it comes to providing customers with the highest level of operational safety, compliance and training. “Moving drilling rigs requires different safety standards vs. hauling crude oil or cleaning water, for example,” Managing Director of Safety Jerry Goodale points out. “Compliance with both customer expectations and all relevant governmental entities is a high priority for us.
“Service and safety are key deliverables for us when we solicit new customers,” he emphasizes. “For example, we recently established an operational footprint in West Virginia, transferring liquids from truck to rail. We spent several months obtaining permits, establishing procedures and training employees to meet and exceed safe operational standards. Now we are up-and-running and ready to grow our customer base safely and reliably. It takes a lot of upfront work to do it right, but that is the way we do business.”
The company uses behavior-based safety processes in which the behaviors that lead to incidents are observed, analyzed, measured and then interventional solutions are developed and implemented.
Additionally, employees receive training on why accidents occur, the frequency of occurrences and easily implemented remedies to improve safety, such as H2S, hazard awareness and proper rigging criteria. Each customer’s training requirements are integrated into the program. Many employees undergo extensive training depending on their specific job and duties. Annual refresher courses help maintain discipline and refocus employees on safe operations.
Concord’s goal is to build safety into a core value, and the company strives to improve the safety process continuously. “There has to be a continuous safety improvement process, and for it to be successful, it has to be a core value,” Goodale stresses. “If it’s not made a core value within the organization, you will not be successful. Everybody has to follow the procedures and policies that are set up and not take shortcuts.”
For example, CPWS and Concord Energy’s Marketing division had a total recordable incident rate (TRIR) of zero, and the Well Services and Rig Services groups are at 1.65. That is a substantial improvement from previous years. “Safety became a big deal early on, and we knew we had to establish a good track record,” Goodale maintains.
Concord has to have good scores from websites such as ISNetworld and PEC Premier to be hired for projects by major oil companies. These clearinghouses determine companies’ scores from the lengthy questionnaires and supporting documentation they require to score a company. “It’s very competitive in safety,” Goodale stresses. “If you do not have a good continuous improvement process, you’re not going to work for the big companies.” John Davis, safety coordinator for Concord Rig Services, agrees. “They go with the pricing and the scores to help determine who gets the work,” he says.
Many procedures have been examined and policies implemented to minimize risks. For example, when moving a drilling rig from one location to another, “It used to be all hands on deck, and everybody was in and around the derrick as it was going up,” Davis recalls. “When examining who was absolutely necessary to be within the safety zone of the derrick, we determined there was no need for anyone to be present. Now it’s a policy of ours to make sure everybody is clear of the derrick because of possible hydraulic failures.”
For the future, Hutcherson foresees offering produced water services in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Kidd sees continued growth and new endeavors, such as selling propane and butane.
“We’re growing quite a bit,” Kidd says. “We’ve opened a new terminal in Longmont, Colo., to service the growing Niobrara play, and we’re getting ready to open a third one in west Texas. We are concentrating our services in areas that expect to see a lot of activity, even at current price levels.”
Kidd thinks the company’s employees are largely responsible for its bright prospects. “Being in field operations where I get to work with all the entities, we‘ve got some great people up and down the organizational chart that have made the team what it is today,” he concludes.