HOMER CITY — What was once a small part of Chemstream’s headquarters on Railroad Street has been expanded into a much larger state-of-the-art laboratory in the past year.
Cutting-edge technology has enabled the Indiana County company to make major progress in the oil and gas industry.
That technology includes a customized friction flow loop, rotational viscometer, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with pyrolysis and X-ray diffraction.
“We built an oilfield division as an extension to Chemstream, which once was known primarily for its work in the coal industry, water treatment and dust suppression solutions,” said Dave Grottenthaler, who heads the company’s oilfield services division.
“The lab is the cornerstone.”
Chemstream offers a complete line of oilfield chemicals and services for production, completion and disposal, according to its website.
Staff members can conduct a no-obligation system audit to provide the right solution to ensure optimal well production levels, the proper frac fluid design and ability to determine if, or when, chemical treatment would improve system cleanliness and/or formation permeability.
“There is science behind all the decisions that impact the work we do in the field,” Grottenthaler said. “We let your formation geology and frac water quality determine the proper frac fluid design.
“We perform cuttings analysis to determine the mineralogy and the constituents that are present. We evaluate and use the client’s water sources to tailor the appropriate chemistries specific to their needs.”
Grottenthaler has extensive experience in most of the United States shale plays and realized that each shale requires a combination of proper strategies to unlock the reservoir’s full potential.
Chemstream spent most of the past year upgrading its in-house lab and teaching technical staff how to perform treatability studies on samples through use of analytical techniques. Those studies help the company to determine which products provide the right solution in the most cost-effective manner while meeting quality control and quality assurance standards.
“The lab is the complete package,” said Brandon LaBrozzi, Chemstream director of operations and engineering. “All of the equipment and technology complements one another in some form or fashion. We are capable of vetting different friction reducers and confirm compatibilities with the other frac fluid components.
“It isn’t necessarily one piece of equipment making the difference, it is all of the equipment and technology together.”
Chemstream President David McCombie served in different facets of the coal industry prior to joining the company in October 2012.
After completing his education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he was employed by Rosebud Mining Co. He held several positions there, including position director of coal preparation.
McCombie also has managed several aspects of the business including production and quality control, miners’ safety and water treatment.
That industry knowledge, as well as his relationship with government regulators, has been very beneficial to Chemstream.
The company’s technology also has significantly improved its standing in oilfield services.
“We are able to help our clients reach an informed decision,” LaBrozzi said. “Where others might simply recommend what has worked in the past, we realize that the same process might not work this time.
“We look at the water quality and shale constituents and put it all together. We tell the client, ‘Yeah, it’s going to work,’ or ‘No, it’s not going to work.’”
The combination of optimal lab equipment provides Chemstream the capability to “analyze stimulations and chemical packages,” LaBrozzi said. “We can make sure chemicals interact in a positive way so that the client can be confident ahead of the frac that everything is going to go well.”