Equinor Technology Ventures (ETV), formerly known as Statoil Technology Invest, recently announced equity investments in two start-ups that will bring advanced technologies into its natural oil and gas operations – SeekOps and Upwing Energy.
Rapid methane emissions detection, localization and quantification
SeekOps, headquartered in Pasadena, CA, uses drones as the platform for its methane-sensor technology that measures fugitive emissions with accuracy at distances of up to 100m.
The goal of this investment is to enable efficient measurement strategies for methane source detection and localization while realizing cost benefits. SeekOps technologies minimize the time for complete facility inspection surveys and align directly with emerging methane mitigation programs supported by Equinor.
SeekOps is a technology spin-off company from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a leading research institute in Pasadena California owned by NASA and managed by California Institute of Technology (Caltech). SeekOps manufactures sensors in-house, integrates them on professional drone systems, and deploys field teams for on-site UAS operations and real-time data reporting.
The partnership with Equinor is the optimal fit for SeekOps given their corporate vision and sustainability goals. SeekOps provides a robust solution for rapid methane emissions detection, localization and quantification. Our unique solutions, developed since 2012 with funding from major oil and gas companies, are now realized as a commercial service to meet customer demand,” said Andrew Aubrey, Chief Executive Officer of SeekOps Inc.
SeekOps sensors are 100X lighter and 1000X more sensitive than comparable technologies and are uniquely suited for operations on unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
“Reducing methane emissions is considered critical to the energy industry, and we are very excited about the investment in SeekOps to help addressing this issue as part of Equinor’s climate roadmap. With SeekOps’ broader vision to become a leader in autonomous gas detection, they have an interesting value offering, and we look forward to supporting them on their journey,” said Kristin Aamodt, Managing Director of Equinor Technology Ventures.
SeekOps provides a mobile-monitoring technology capable of fugitive emission detection that enables comprehensive inspection of upstream and downstream facilities. The technology, coupled with SeekOps proprietary machine learning algorithms and data analytics, is capable of emissions source detection, localization, and quantitative flow rate measurement.
“SeekOps and Equinor’s Research & Technology (R&T) collaboration is a great example of innovation; together we have been able to develop sensors with accurate alarm, leak localization and flux determination,” said Andrea Machado, Principal Researcher in Equinor US.
The SeekOps technology is derived from gas measurement instruments originally developed for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), a rover currently operating on the surface of Mars. The SeekOps sensors, manufactured and deployed for oilfield services, provide rapid measurement at parts-per-billion sensitivity, a requirement for effective emissions measurement and quantification.
Accelerating downhole gas compressor development
Upwing Energy, an artificial lift technology company, is a spin-off from Calnetix Technologies, known for its disruptive innovations within high-speed motors, magnetic bearings and power electronics. These technologies are being applied by Upwing in downhole rotating tools, starting with the Subsurface Compressor System™ (SCS), which is capable of boosting production while sustaining the extreme conditions present in gas wells at up to 12,000 feet below surface.
The downhole lift system is aimed at both conventional and unconventional gas wells that may also produce natural gas liquids and condensates. Its operating envelope includes highly-corrosive and erosive well environments.
“As the second largest gas supplier to Europe and a known early adopter of enabling technologies, Equinor will be an invaluable partner to help accelerate the commercialization of Upwing’s Subsurface Compressor Systems,” said Herman Artinian, Chief Executive Officer of Upwing Energy. “We look forward to working with Equinor and Cooper and Company to achieve our vision of maximizing the production and recoverable reserves of natural gas resources throughout the world.”
“Equinor is very excited to start this journey with Upwing Energy and to support the development and commercialization of their downhole gas compressor,” said Kristin Aamodt, Managing Director of Equinor Technology Ventures. “We are impressed by the strong team and look forward to supporting market entry for this new technology, which could become an important contributor to reaching our future gas production targets.”
“For oil wells, we have electrical submersible pumps (ESPs), but for gas wells there are few options available to improve the drawdown,” said Pandurang Kulkarni, Principal Researcher at Equinor’s Research and Technology group. “Upwing’s SCS could mean a step change for increased production and regularity from natural gas wells.”