CCW Inc. sees value in kinetic energy of pump-jacks

A technology to cut power consumption gathers momentum

September 25, 2012

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David Gray, president of CCW INC.
Photograph Jason Everitt

Petroleum companies in Canada are fretting these days about volatile prices for oil. But David Gray, president of Edmonton-based CCW Inc., says they should be just as concerned about the price of electricity.

“I don’t know what is going to happen to the price of oil. But I do know what is going to happen to the price of electricity,” Gray says.

And what Gray knows is that the price is going up. That reality has led this small, private company to shop an innovative product to a cost conscious oil patch looking to save money in the face of price volatility.

Launched in 2008, CCW Inc. specializes in developing electrical motor control systems and energy efficiency strategies for the oil and gas industry. It’s a not a big outfit, with just nine full-time employees, but in its short existence it has extended its reach beyond its home base in Alberta; its products are sold on three continents.

The product Gray and the firm are excited about right now is the Enersaver. It’s a drive system that takes the energy generated when a pumpjack falls back to the ground and converts that into energy that can be sent back into the electrical grid – and sold by the pumpjack’s operator. It also is an energy saver, as it stores some of the electricity coming off the motor to use on the pumpjack’s next lift cycle.

Gray says this can cut electricity bills for operators by as much as 40 per cent. That’s a sizeable number, considering how big the power bills are for operators who have pumpjacks in the field. “Electricity is typically the single biggest operating cost item for most conventional oil companies,” Gray says. “It’s millions of bucks per month for oil companies, from the junior level on up.”

The Enersaver is the work of Lorne Tilby, the company’s founder and a journeyman electrician with 24 years of experience working in the oilfields, and Michael Lesanko, who is an expert in motor drives. A motor drive sits between the grid and the pumpjack’s electric motor, and acts like a fuel injector allowing the motor to move the pumpjack up and down with the least amount of electricity.

While Tilby and Lesanko took the idea from a concept to a product, Gray – who spent 23 years in the electric utility sector and was the executive director of the Alberta office of the Utilities Consumer Advocate and a senior analyst for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board – was initially brought in to help them get the Enersaver certified. Gray got the job done, and that work led to him joining CCW as president in August of 2010.

In a crowded and competitive oilfield services field, CCW has quickly carved out a niche for itself. As the easy barrels get harder to find, producing crude keeps getting more expensive and companies are looking for ways to be more efficient, use less energy and have less of an environmental footprint.

That bodes well for the future of CCW Inc. Gray says the company will continue to innovate and come up with better systems and strategies to serve the oil patch. It’s the kind of thinking that comes naturally to the company. “We’re just a bunch of farm boys,” Gray says. “That ability to get things done, you get that off the farm.”

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