Bullzeye Oilfield Services co-founder develops way to handle paraffin by combining two different tools into one
Paraffin can be turned into wax for candles and used in plastics, so it certainly has value, explains Zack Maxey, co-founder of Bullzeye Oilfield Services, but if it doesn't make it to the refinery it can cause problems on the well site. Typically paraffin cools at about 250 degrees and turns into a solid form, which can create clogging and result in a wide range of issues.
Seeing an unmet need, Zack and his father, Keith, brought two existing companies together to solve this common dilemma. WELS is the company behind Hot Rod, a thermal tool shaped like a pencil that melts accumulated paraffin so that it can be pulled out of the well, and Flo-Rite Fluids has a magnetic fluid conditioner called the FLO-RITE PARAFFIN PREDATOR that stabilizes paraffin molecules and allows them to remain in solution until arriving at a refinery.
The two tools complement each other nicely, but according to Maxey the companies didn’t even know that one another existed until he became involved. Seizing an opportunity, he stepped in and designed a wireline application that Flo-Rite Fluids patented, and then developed an agreement that grants Bullzeye Oilfield Services the rights to the wireline application.
There are a number of related eco-friendly benefits, Maxey explains. Any time you're dealing with a lot of oil there is the possibility of spills on location, and when it rains that oil is going somewhere. There’s also the need to heat the oil, so there’s an open flame involved. “You've got a lot of hazards there doing it this way,” he says. “The way we're doing it, everything is inside lubricators, everything is totally contained, and everything is kept inside the well the entire time."
The PARAFFIN PREDATOR is a mechanical treatment for paraffin, which eliminates the need to use chemicals, he continues. These chemicals are commonly kept in containment tubs, but with heavy rains he's seen these types of tubs flood, which creates an environmental issue.
"We have the well contained the entire time to run the Hot Rod and remove the paraffin, and the paraffin is contained,” he says. “Now instead of treating this paraffin chemically you can remove the chemicals and set this in the hole. Then everything is contained in the hole and the paraffin is treated before it becomes a solid, so instead of treating the symptoms we're treating the problem."
Beyond the eco-friendly benefits, the other bonus is a significant cost savings, Maxey explains, pointing to one operating company that previously used chemicals at a cost of $40 per gallon and $9,600 total per month. This new innovation saved the company $320 per day, bringing that monthly cost down to about $1,000. “It’s more than an 80 percent cost savings on traditional methods,” he adds.
When he looks ahead to the future of this innovation, Maxey believes it could become a common standard in wells that produce a lot of paraffin — potentially saving the industry billions if it catches on across the globe. It might sound like a bold prediction, but the family is no stranger to groundbreakers of this sort.
With his first company, Max-Line, Keith completed the world's first horizontal pump-down of perforating guns and plugs in 2005, which later became a standard industry procedure. When he sold his company, he spent the next two years traveling to teach others how to perform the very same method.
Through operations efficiencies, it has allowed companies to handle more well stages in a shorter amount of time. When the worldwide impact of this is considered, Zack estimates the method has saved trillions to date, and the Maxey duo hopes to see their latest endeavor catch on and impact the industry in a similar way.