Entrepreneurial-minded businesses are rushing to enter the Bakken Shale marketplace with a variety of cost-saving applications and technologies for oilfield operators. But not many can boast the longevity, expertise and local knowledge of the area like the personnel at ECO/AFS, a distributor and installer of alternative fuel systems throughout the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa and Alaska.
The company is a master distributor for the GTI Altronic Bi-Fuel System, and ECO/AFS offers product installation, commissioning and installation training services for GTI’s line of products. ECO/AFS also is a master distributor of Johnson Matthey catalysts, Testo and RKI instruments using these products for fuel savings, emission reduction and testing as well as safety equipment and services with RKI gas detection systems.
ECO/AFS personnel boast more than 30 years of experience in the Williston Basin region of the Bakken Shale. Anderson says Doug Stevens and Kevin Skogen located in Williston are two of the best in the business when it comes to gas engines, diesel engines, emissions testing and operating diesel engines on a percentage of natural gas.
The company was named a GTI master distributor three years ago. Since then, Regional Manager Jeff Anderson estimates that ECO/AFS has grown its sales by 300 percent.
“We had the people and the equipment in place before taking them on, so we didn’t have to really ramp up,” Anderson says. “We have the background and the manpower, so when we went to [GTI], they looked at us and gave us the distributorship based on who we are and what we do.”
Anderson is part of the experienced leadership at the helm of ECO/AFS. He grew up in Williston and first worked as a roustabout before joining Noble Drilling for several years. In 1982, he joined the service side of the industry with Homco.
No matter what the products or services, ECO/AFS is dedicated to helping its customers utilize the bounty of natural gas throughout the Bakken Shale as a way to reduce their operating costs and reduce the environmental emissions footprint.
“We have designed a gas-conditioning and metering unit for Bakken oil and gas,” Anderson says.
“We’re pretty much focused on the utilization of natural gas as a power source in North Dakota and in the other states, as well. The bulk of our business is in the Bakken right now, and it is as busy as it has ever been there.”
The GTI Bi-Fuel System allows operators of heavy-duty diesel engines to reduce operating costs and lower emissions by running a dual fuel. These fuels are typically lower-cost, cleaner-burning options like natural gas or propane that enter the fuel source mix without engine modification or voiding a factory warranty.
The GTI system operates by blending diesel fuel and natural gas or propane in the combustion chamber using a pilot-ignition, fumigated gas-charge design. In this process, the natural gas is pre-mixed with engine intake air and delivered to the combustion chamber via the air-intake valve, ECO/AFS explains.
The GTI Way
The air/gas mixture is ignited when the diesel injector sprays a reduced quantity of diesel fuel into the chamber, where this diesel “pilot” acts as the ignition source for the primary air/gas combustible, the company says.
ECO/AFS states that the key to the system is the ability to switch fuel modes without interruption in engine power output.
The GTI system gives the user the flexibility to choose between gas and diesel modes based on price and availability of fuel resources, or any other operational factors.
As of early September, ECO/AFS had installed the GTI Bi-Fuel Systems on 11 of Brigham Exploration’s drilling rigs, with another installed on a rig for Continental Resources. Anderson says the company will be installing systems over the next three months for Conoco Phillips and Abraxass and Williams, and several major players in the Bakken Shale are in talks with ECO/AFS and are interested, as well.
ECO/AFS has installed more than 200 generators on operating well sites without electricity in the Williston Basin, and most have operated for more than two years without a single failure of an engine or a Bi-Fuel System.