By: DOUGLAS W. JAMISON | July 8, 2014
Harris & Harris Group is proud to be on the cutting edge of science and business as we build transformative companies enabled by disruptive science.
Which country is the largest producer of oil and gas in the world today? Ask folks on the street this question and you will probably hear Saudi Arabia or Russia mentioned more than any other country. You may be surprised to learn that the answer is the United States. According to estimates by the Energy Information Administration, combined U.S. petroleum and gas production last year reached 50 quadrillion British thermal units, or 25 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, out-producing Russia by 5 quadrillion Btu and far exceeding Saudi Arabia’s output (see chart below).
The U.S. is enjoying a renaissance in oil and gas today that is truly remarkable. It was only a few years ago that executives of major energy companies in the U.S. had proclaimed the era of peak oil and gas. At the heart of the renaissance in U.S. oil and gas output is technological innovation. New technologies and process capabilities have made drilling more efficient and enabled new types of drilling. Additionally, innovative water technologies have aided the production process and, importantly, significantly improved the environmental impact of such activities.
Harris & Harris Group portfolio company Produced Water Absorbents, Inc. (“ProSep”), is a leading technology and services provider of integrated process separation solutions to the global oil and gas industry. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, the company has developed a lifecycle range of technologies — including the innovative Osorb® media pioneered by our portfolio company, ABS Materials — to help operators manage their process streams, enhance performance and meet strict regulatory requirements. ProSep works with operators both offshore and onshore in the U.S. and around the world.
Harris & Harris Group owns between 15 and 20 percent of ProSep as of June 30, 2014. We were the first institutional investor in ABS Materials, from which PWA was spun out in June 2011. We were then part of the first institutional syndicate of investors in PWA. In November 2013, PWA acquired the assets of ProSep and added its suite of technologies alongside Osorb. Although our investment is in PWA, the combined entity does business as ProSep, and this is the name we will use going forward. Harris & Harris Group expects ProSep to have in excess of $30 million in revenue for 2014 and be EBITDA positive by year-end.
With the acquisition of ProSep, existing customers and revenue were also acquired. Thus, ProSep is now selling new technology into an existing customer base. Acquiring an established business and incorporating a new technology into the existing business reduces customer acquisition costs and accelerates market penetration of the technology. This strategy is a win-win for ProSep and for our investors, as it promotes growth, value creation and a shorter path to liquidity. Harris & Harris Group portfolio company, Adesto, has pursued a similar strategy.
As evidence that this strategy is beginning to work, ProSep was recently awarded a contract with Shell Canada for a comprehensive oil treatment solution consisting of the design and packaging of 12 large oil treatment vessels for use in Carmon Creek in Northern Alberta, Canada. This contract, in excess of $25 million over 18 months, is the largest in the company’s history and underscores ProSep’s unique capabilities in the oil and gas industry.
ProSep’s Transformational Business
ProSep’s crude oil treatment portfolio offers onshore and offshore oil process solutions, utilizing both its conventional and proprietary technologies, packaged with global project management expertise. This includes its injection/mixer assembly, ProSalt, for crude desalting, which reduces wash water consumption by up to 40 percent. ProSep utilizes modular process equipment to meet its clients’ needs for smaller footprint.
ProSep’s range of customized gas solutions includes conditioning, dehydration and sweetening. ProSep offers CO2 membrane system designs for cost-effective removal of CO2, H2S and water vapor from natural gas streams, as well as customized gas dehydration systems for the removal of water vapor. H2S scavenging is offered with its patented mixer, ProScav™, providing an inline solution with reduced chemical consumption that can be incorporated into new designs or retrofitted into older systems.
ProSep’s water treatment portfolio is unparalleled within the industry, combining a full lifecycle suite of process technologies. ProSep’s water technologies assist operators to manage and treat their produced water streams, providing solutions that meet or exceed regulatory and/or other operational requirements. Its proprietary technologies for the ‘polishing’ stage of produced water treatment, including TORR, Osorb Media and the CTour process, offer scalable solutions which reduce outlet discharge to below 5 ppm oil in water.
ProSep’s Disruptive Technologies
ProSep’s comprehensive separation solutions for the oil and gas industry feature several proprietary technologies, including:
- ProMix™ – a novel inline injection/mixer assembly that can be used for any liquid-liquid mixing or extraction process. Benefits of this technology include high mixing efficiency (>90%), less emulsion, multiphase mixing capability, and reduced chemical consumption (~40%).
- ProSalt™ – an award winning system used in upsteam desalter applications as well as downstream refineries. The ProSalt technology brings great operational benefits by delivering vastly reduced fresh water consumption, improved performance in pressure drop and less oil in water at the Desalter separator. ProSep was awarded a contract for the supply of one of its patented ProSalt units, valued at over $350,000, to Saudi Aramco in the Arab Gulf region.
- ProDry™ – technology used primarily in the glycol dehydration process for the removal of water from gas flows as a replacement for conventional contact towers.
- ProScav™ – a system for injecting and mixing H2S scavenger in the pipeline to remove moderate amounts of H2S from gas.
- Osorb® – a regenerable, organically-modified silica for the treatment of oilfield water and gas streams. Osorb removes vapor phase and micro-droplet hydrocarbons from gas streams to improve the value of sales gas, increase burner efficiency, and manage other environmental gaseous emissions. Osorb has many benefits, including unprecedented removal of free, dispersed, emulsified and soluble hydrocarbons and regeneration with no loss of efficiency (see exhibit). Additionally, the media is virtually instantaneous mechanism with minimal residence time.
Together, these technologies, along with ProSep’s process capabilities, create a compelling value proposition for customers seeking to enhance efficiency and lower costs.
In addition to these core technologies, ProSep’s Energy Services division offers a full range of consultancy services, including process, design, engineering, operations, packaging, and lease capabilities to clients worldwide. Ambitious expansion plans are underway currently to strengthen ProSep’s market position and drive growth in key oil and gas markets in North and South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific.
For public market investors, we believe Harris & Harris Group offers the earliest opportunity to have access to this transformative renaissance in oil and gas treatment and separation technology. Harris & Harris Group is on the cutting edge of disruptive science and business, and our shareholders stand to benefit as these new paradigms disrupt business.
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