Green Smith and partners founded S-Con Inc. (S-Con) in 1990 as a general construction contractor specializing in new construction and plant relocations in the natural gas industry. Smith continues his involvement today as a principal owner, working closely with an experienced management team to develop an innovative and client-focused approach that has led to years of growth and success for the business.
Since S-Con opened its doors more than 24 years ago, the business has evolved and diversified into an engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction company that offers full engineering services, fabrication/assembly and construction services to the natural gas industry. This allows the company to act as a one-stop shop for clients, providing in-house solutions to challenging energy industry projects from start to finish.
S-Con recently introduced the SUPERCOOL process to the energy industry. The new method of processing associated gas, which is the rich, natural gas produced along with crude oil, eliminates the need to flare any of this gas while producing high value Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The total recovery, instead of flaring, results in higher profits for everyone in the energy chain, while reducing pollution generated by the flaring. The SUPERCOOL process has been touted as the most significant improvement in gas processing in more than 30 years.
With the huge growth in domestic crude oil and natural gas in the United States, the industry has made substantial additions to the pipeline and processing facilities to transport and process all of the new oil and natural gas. According to Trey Brown, vice president of engineering and construction for S-Con, the additions, however, have not keep pace with the exploration and production of wells in more remote locations that are not serviced by the gathering systems required to deliver the raw natural gas to processing and treating facilities in the region.
“The SUPERCOOL process allows this associated gas to be processed at, or very near, the well sites to produce all of the gas into products that can easily be transported by truck to market or the regional facilities for additional processing,” Brown explains.
After removal of the NGLs, the remaining natural gas is liquefied into LNG where it can be used as a clean-burning fuel to replace or greatly reduce the amount of diesel needed to drive drilling rigs and high-pressure fractionation pumps. Brown explains that with a slight change in the controls of the SUPERCOOL unit, the LNG can also be made to meet vehicle grade fuel to eliminate the diesel now utilized to fuel tractor-trailer rigs, heavy equipment and even cars and vans.
Brown expanded on the initial concept of using liquid nitrogen to liquefy refined natural gas into LNG; his development of the SUPERCOOL process moves far beyond the original concept of converting processed, pipeline quality natural gas into LNG and allows the processing of the very rich, associated gas that is so often flared to allow the production of the crude oil to continue.
“Typical, large cryogenic processes, which can only process pipeline quality gas, involves cascade type refrigeration, mixed refrigerants and even partial use of the LNG product to get the natural gas liquefied into LNG,” Brown explains. “These processes are enormously expensive and require many acres of space. The SUPERCOOL process, utilizing liquid nitrogen as a refrigerant, greatly reduces the size of the unit and is a small fraction of the cost of a typical LNG facility. This allows the SUPERCOOL processing plants to operate in the more remote well site locations that have not yet been connected to gathering systems.”
Major Benefits to Clients
The SUPERCOOL system offers the producer an easier, less expensive way to get product to market, by-passing the cost of installing pipelines, having to deal with landowners for pipeline right-of-ways and other typical obstacles that can arise. SUPERCOOL units can be installed in locations without any other infrastructure available except for the producing oil and associated gas well. By eliminating, or greatly reducing, the need to flare any gas, the SUPERCOOL system also eliminates the possibility of having to shut-in the production of crude oil due to flaring restrictions.
SUPERCOOL provides the user with the ability to market the higher value LNG as fuel to drilling rigs and other production equipment as that equipment moves from one well site location to another in the general production area. The smaller size of the SUPERCOOL system, with its ability to process the raw gas from an individual or bank of producing wells, also reduces product transportation costs associated with trucking LNG hundreds of miles from one of the large LNG processing plants.
S-Con’s dedication to traditional, natural gas processing and treating technology to provide the specialty services clients have come to rely on is unchanged. Over the years, the company has built strong relationships in the industry, allowing the business to grow even in a fluctuating market.
The introduction of the Supercool process has opened new opportunities for the company. S-Con looks forward to these opportunities, while maintaining a strong focus on the service, quality and safety record the company is known for. S-Con prioritizes the health and safety of customers and employees, as well as the protection of the environment. The business has achieved several awards for safety over the years, including repeat recognition from the National Safety Council for a perfect record.
S-Con continues to expand in the scope and supply of its capabilities, as well as its physical facilities, and continues to reach a broader audience than ever before. “With complete engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction capabilities, the ability to provide turnkey project completion, combined with the SUPERCOOL process to provide valuable NGL and LNG products, while eliminating the flaring of associated gas, S-Con is sure to continue along this path of growth,” Brown says proudly. In the coming years, Smith, Brown and the rest of the team look ahead to growth as S-Con Inc. continues to provide responsible, reliable and innovative service to clients in the energy industry.