An Epix Move In Fracking

05 May 2016

Last year at about this time, Weir Oil & Gas and Rolls-Royce Power Systems subsidiary MTU, announced plans to establish a joint venture company to oversee the development of a new power system intended to make hydraulic fracturing operations more efficient.

On the opening day of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, that venture — Epix — made its official debut, displaying what the partners called the first integrated system for fracking.

“By leveraging the expertise of our founding companies, Epix will initially deliver integrated power system solutions that are specifically engineered for hydraulic fracturing and then apply these same principles of integrated systems to other applications,” said Douglas Schwedland, CEO of the joint venture. “The industry is asking for comprehensive solutions that will remain productive in harsher, continuous operation environments and we are answering with innovations that deliver on all levels, from productivity and efficiency to reduced total cost of ownership.”

The joint venture is an outgrowth of a collaboration agreement the companies announced two years ago at OTC. Schwedland takes the helm at Epix after more than two decades in the diesel engine and business systems industries. He most recently served in the dual role of CEO of MTU Middle East FZE and business development director, Middle East, Africa and Central Asia for Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG. He has also held various leadership positions with Detroit Diesel Corp., MTU Detroit Diesel and Tognum AG.

With engine, transmission, and pump components designed to work together, Epix’s first product offering, a purpose-built power system, is designed to optimize longevity and performance, while lowering total cost ownership for operators during well completion operations.

The system incorporates an MTU FracPack, which consists of an MTU Series 4000 engine mated to a ZF 8 TX gear box that drives Weir’s SPM QEM 3000 hydraulic fracturing pump.

With an increased power output of 2250 to 2600 bhp (1677 to 1938 kW), the Series 4000 T95 diesel provides more low-end torque, improving acceleration and expanding the utilization of the frac pump’s performance map, all of which provides maximum flow rate, MTU said. Along with performance capability at altitudes up to 13,000 ft. (4000 m), the engine is available in Tier 4 and Tier 2 compliant versions.

ZF Friedrichshafen developed the ZF 8 TX transmission for oil & gas applications and it offers eight
gears, smooth gear transmissions and a broad set of gear ratios to minimize component stress and wearing, the company said. With a robust design, it can be teamed with engines up to 2600 hp with input torques up to 7744 lb. ft. (10,500 Nm).

Through use of CANbus communication and modular programming, the transmission eliminates any need for a torque converter lock-up clutch, ZF said.

Weir said its SPM QEM 3000 is the industry’s first high-horsepower frac pump for continuous-duty pressure pumping operation at 275,000 lb. force rod load. Synchronizing maintenance schedules with the engine and transmission, the pump is designed to reduce downtime and costs, savings 17% when compared to legacy SPM pumps, Weir said.

The pump also incorporates a new dual-line optimized lubrication system, which is designed to regulate pressure and flow for each component while filtering contaminants. A large frac-pump bearing evenly distributes stress and a patent-pending rigid structural design resists cracking from increased rod loads and hours of operation, Weir said. Finally, the company said the SPM Duralast fluid end technology is engineered to lower cross-bore stress by 30% or more, which can double the life of conventional SPM fluid ends and the use of corrosion-resistant stainless steel can deliver up to times the fluid-end life.

In addition to offering a completely integrated system for fracking, Epix said it is also committed to deliver warranty and service support for the life of its products. By enabling operators to better align maintenance schedules and warranties across the entire power system, downtime is reduced and efficiencies are gained, the company said. Planned future enhancements for the first system include integrated monitoring controls which will provide intelligence for predictive and preventative maintenance.

Weir’s global service network will manage all aspects of maintenance and service for Epix, providing a one-stop customer experience.

“The opportunities for a streamlined system are limitless,” Schwedland said. “Epix will keep our customers productive not only with world-class products, but with a service model that streamlines maintenance for the pump, transmission and engine.”

Epix, which is headquartered in Houston, said it plans to begin operations following regulatory approvals.


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