This is a appropriate collective commodity that will arise beneath both Fluidsdoc’s and Mr. Bert’s bylines. It will be arise aboriginal in Fluidsdoc’s Daily Conduct Address and Mr. Bert has fabricated himself accessible to acknowledgment questions as well. Afterwards that, it will be arise about beneath both bylines on the approved Gluttonous Alpha website.
As our readers know, Fluidsdoc has been advising shares of Tetra Technologies, Inc. (TTI) for over a year. Added recently, Mr. Bert began advising the shares as well.
Fluidsdoc has a accomplishments as a adept oilfield able specializing in conduct and achievement fluids. Mr. Bert has a accomplishments as a adept beforehand analyst. Anniversary brings a lot of austere acquaintance to the table in their corresponding fields. Anniversary has assured that TTI is potentially one of those attenuate opportunities—maybe alike a ten-bagger. The contempo abatement in the shares, adjoin a accomplishments of accepted bazaar weakness, presents a appropriate affairs opportunity.
So, aback Mr. Bert appropriate that they aggregation up for a collective article, Fluidsdoc readily acceded.
We’ve absitively to present this in the anatomy of a conversation.
Hello Fluidsdoc and acknowledge you for aing me in this project. Acknowledge you additionally for your accessories on TETRA because, afterwards them, I am not abiding I would accept become complex in the stock.
Hello Mr. Bert and acknowledgment for suggesting this collective article. I anticipate it is a abundant abstraction and I anticipate all of us will apprentice commodity about what the abeyant for TTI is. With my aqueous expertise, and your accomplishments in the banking ancillary of things, I anticipate we will all accretion a added compassionate of this beforehand opportunity.
Background of the Fluidsdoc
I was anon admiring to your accessories on TTI because it was bright that you absolutely knew what you were talking about. I’ve apprehend a lot of banal assay in my day and a lot of it is recycled gibberish. Frequently, the aggregation is putting an anytime optimistic circuit on things, cogent you what they appetite you to hear, and the analysts are aloof answer the company.
I like to go added than that, so I am consistently on the anchor for industry experts who absolutely accept that anatomy of specialized ability that I crave. I anticipate that you accept it and that calm we can amount out the abeyant for this stock.
The focus of this chat is action to be a abysmal dive into the possibilities for the company’s new CS Neptune achievement aqueous product. The aggregation calls it a “transformational” and “disruptive” technology whose success “cannot be overstated.” Analysts accept alleged it a potentially “game changing” technology. As a connected achievement fluids engineer, I don’t anticipate anyone could possibly be bigger positioned to accept the abeyant for Neptune than you.
So, with that said, acquaint me a little about your apprenticeship and career.
Well Mr. Bert, firstly acknowledgment for the affectionate words. I authority a B.S. amount from Texas A&M. My aloft was Automated Technology.
I’ve spent about my absolute career in the oil and gas conduct and achievement business. I started my career with a baby completions aggregation alleged OSCA, breadth I spent 18 years in sales. OSCA eventually went accessible and was afterwards acquired by BJ Services.
In 1999, I aing abounding of my ex-OSCA colleagues at M-I Conduct Fluids, which was the fluids assay of Smith International. At M-I, I was a Senior Action Architect in the completions and conduct technologies division. Amid added things, I conducted centralized training globally for achievement fluids, backlog conduct fluids and wellbore charwoman technology. I additionally travelled the apple accomplishing presentations on those aforementioned capacity as a visiting expert.
M-I Conduct Fluids was the industry baton in conduct and achievement fluids. About the time I accustomed at the firm, Schlumberger (SLB) approached them and, as a aftereffect of those discussions, a collective adventure was accustomed in which Smith endemic 60% of M-I Conduct and Schlumberger endemic 40%. In 2010, Schlumberger acquired the absoluteness of Smith for $11 billion. Full ascendancy of M-I Drilling, which had afresh been renamed M-I SWACO, was acutely what they were after. So, that’s how I came to assignment at Schlumberger.
From 2013 to 2015, I was stationed in Malaysia as a Regional Abstruse Service Manager. Basically, we supplied the applicant with a fit for purpose achievement solution. I was in allegation of all the fluids issues—making abiding the proper, distinctively advised backlog drill-in aqueous was used, alteration the able-bodied over to a achievement or alluvium packing aqueous aback necessary, and assuming all fluids aliment associated with this action such as clarification to beforehand accuracy and debris content, advancement aqueous properties, formulating aqueous accident pills, and wellbore cleanouts.
By 2015, the oil industry was in acute straits. Oil prices had collapsed, demography oilfield action with it. Companies were adorable to cut costs and I took a buyout action and alternate stateside. Today, in accession to autograph for Gluttonous Alpha, I beforehand my own training and consulting business focused on achievement and backlog drill-in fluids.
Tell me a little bit added about your consulting and training business.
Sure. I advise the fundamentals of designing a minimally damaging aqueous to assignment the backlog breach to adolescent engineers aloof entering the business. I accept my own proprietary classes, and additionally advise classes for my old company. Through this business, I beforehand a lot of contacts at all levels of the completions industry. A cardinal of my abstracts as to Neptune are a by conversations with my audience and others in the industry. I’m not a abandoned articulation in compassionate the accent of Neptune, that’s for sure.
Thanks. That’s a absurd resume for a backlog conduct fluids engineer. You’ve had a continued and eminent career in a boxy and awful alternate business. In fact, you’ve been there from the alpha of deepwater conduct so you’ve absolutely apparent it all.
Tell us, what is your absolute expertise? Are you a chemist, an engineer, a scientist? Could you architecture a completions aqueous or do you focus added on the activated uses and applications for these fluids?
My ability is in designing abstruse solutions to backlog conduct aqueous challenges. Answers to these problems are rarely off the shelf, and absorb a lot of testing and retesting to accomplish the optimal result. My job is to advice association accumulate this process, which can booty a brace of years to accede (although 4-6 months is added common), and accomplish abiding that the action doesn’t get bogged down.
If you acquaint me the basal aperture temperature, the burden at accurate vertical depth, accommodate me with a backlog bedrock and fluids assay (known as a petrology report), a archetype of the breach log, and accord me some samples of backlog cores, I can architecture a testing acceding for a minimally damaging aqueous to assignment that reservoir. In my career I accept congenital hundreds of these fluids. This would additionally accommodate designing bright brines for specific backlog intervals with anniversary to chrism and ascent tendencies in situ.
Terrific. I can’t anticipate of a bigger actuality for this analysis.
Before accepting into the nitty-gritty of our analysis, I am action to accompaniment the beforehand apriorism as I see it. Obviously, feel chargeless to explain breadth you differ.
TETRA has been about as an independent, about traded oilfield casework aggregation for a continued time. They consistently had their duke in a lot of businesses but never seemed to accept a position of administration in any of them. As I said in my article, array of everywhere and boilerplate at the aforementioned time. But the aggregation has absolutely bankrupt up its act. It has slimmed down, bargain debt, afford liabilities and focused itself about three amount areas—completion fluids, baptize administration casework for shale completions, and compression.
In my article, I set a ambition amount for TTI shares of amid $8 and $13 per allotment over the aing year or so. I anticipate it could ability the lower end of that ambit abundant eventually than that, and alike that is added than a bifold from here. The aggregate of the aberration in my ambition amount is accompanying to the fluids assay and the affairs for Neptune. The lower end of my ambition amount assumes that Neptune is a alcove artefact and the aerial end assumes it assets reasonable traction. But if this is absolutely the transformational and ambagious artefact that the aggregation claims, I can additionally see the banal action far college than that. What I achievement to get out of this chat is a faculty of whether that is possible.
Let me alpha with the three things that I anticipate I apperceive about Neptune. First, it has huge margins and revenues from aloof a audible action can be as aerial as $25 million. In Q2 and Q3 of 2017, one important Gulf of Mexico conduct action generated about $25 actor in acquirement at what I appraisal to be an 80% or bigger margin. Second, it is artefact that appears to be a bare artefact that is altered and afterwards competition, and it potentially seems to accept allusive apparent protection. Third, this is a artefact abundantly important for Halliburton (HAL), the additional bigger fluids provider worldwide, to affirmation a collective business and development acceding with a abundant abate competitor.
I anticipate if Neptune absolutely assets traction, this banal could be a admirable bang home run over the new few years. But that’s me speaking. You are the able actuality and my job is to ask the appropriate questions.
So, I’ve accomplished out to you to advice me. With your industry ability and my banking knowledge, I am abiding we can get a bigger handle on this. Two accuracy aren’t consistently bigger than one, but in this case, I am abiding that will be so.
I’ve got no problems with your analysis. Neptune is an important artefact and there is absolutely a cogent bazaar for it. But let’s see breadth this chat takes us.
All About Completions Fluids
Let me alpha with Schlumberger’s analogue of a achievement fluid:
A solids-free aqueous acclimated to “complete” an oil or gas well. This aqueous is placed in the able-bodied to facilitate final operations above-mentioned to admission of production, such as ambience screens assembly liners, packers, downhole valves or cutting perforations into the bearing zone. The aqueous is meant to ascendancy a able-bodied should downhole accouterments fail, afterwards damaging the bearing accumulation or achievement components. Achievement fluids are about brines (chlorides, bromides and formates), but in access could be any aqueous of able body and breeze characteristics. The aqueous should be chemically accordant with the backlog accumulation and fluids, and is about filtered to a aerial amount to abstain introducing debris to the near-wellbore area. Seldom is a approved conduct aqueous adequate for achievement operations due to its debris content, pH and ionic composition. Drill-in fluids can, in some cases, be adequate for both purposes.
Do you accept annihilation to add to that?
That’s a adequate start. The analogue can be a bit ambagious and, as the analogue credibility out, the artefact categories are not consistently absolutely distinct. About speaking, the terms, drill-in aqueous and backlog conduct aqueous are mostly alike with one another. Achievement fluids, as acclaimed above, are clear, alkali solutions, which can be acclimated to body a drill-in aqueous or a packer fluid. In fact, this is one of the cogent upsides of Neptune. While the aggregation describes it as a achievement fluid, it could additionally conceptually be acclimated as the abject aqueous for a backlog drill-in aqueous or a packer fluid, which decidedly expands its bazaar potential. This abeyant was absolutely accent in the columnist release.
Think of it this way. A conduct mud is about acclimated during the action of conduct through the aerial sediments aloft the ambition interval. Its basal purpose (it has many) is to backpack the cuttings from the conduct action out of the aperture and it is about added in the attributes of a mud, and in fact, is about referred to as “mud.” It is added and has cogent debris agreeable like clays and barites. Depending somewhat on the appearance of achievement that will be installed, already the conduct alcove its ambition abyss and enters the reservoir, you charge to about-face to backlog drill-in-type fluids to accomplishment the able-bodied to absolute depth. Usually afresh achievement fluids are installed in the able-bodied for assorted purposes. Achievement fluids are clear, solids-free alkali solutions that accommodate body to ascendancy accumulation pressure, but don’t baffle with achievement operations or accident the reservoir. There are a cardinal of halide salts that accept been acclimated for decades by the industry. Sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, calcium bromide, and zinc boiler are amid the best accepted of these fluids.
OK. I’m still afterward you. Now what are the important characteristics that a completion-type aqueous charge have.
One important appropriate of a achievement aqueous is that It charge be debris chargeless to abstain bottleneck up the interstitial spaces of the backlog rock. Anticipate of the backlog bedrock in acceding of its porosity and permeability. We charge the abandoned amplitude of the pores (the amplitude amid the beach grains that anatomy the framework anatomy of the reservoir), and the “connectivity” amid them that allows fluids to breeze adjoin the wellbore. That’s what I beggarly by porosity and permeability. But if you alpha pumping an admixed band-aid bottomward there, you are action to clog up that bedrock and there goes your oil flow. Remember, the backlog is breadth the oil is. You’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to appoint a rig, accompany it to location, and assignment a aperture that is two afar beneath the baptize apparent and afresh accession three or four afar into the earth’s core. The aftermost affair you appetite to do is accident the backlog aback you get bottomward there.
When formulating these fluids, you charge to accumulate in apperception they charge display adherence aloft a ample ambit of temperatures. In a deepwater able-bodied this could be from 38.2 degrees Fahrenheit at the mudline, up to 400 degrees at the basal of the hole. Actuality baptize based, these achievement fluids aggrandize and arrangement with changes in temperature and pressure. These changes can accept a abstruse aftereffect on the adherence of the alkali system. This can beforehand to astringent problems alive with these fluids, potentially damaging the backlog or aspersing able-bodied performance. The role of the achievement aqueous is to assure the backlog while you are commutual the able-bodied for production.
The added important claim is density. One of the purposes of the achievement aqueous is to ascendancy what’s action on downhole. You charge to be able to bout or beat the downhole backlog pressure.
Let’s allocution about Neptune and why it is potentially so important. First, call what Neptune is.
Neptune is a achievement fluids assay aimed at a specific articulation of the deepwater bazaar that requires a college body brine. The weight of these fluids is apprenticed by the formation’s bottom-hole pressure. Now, the backlog burden in best deepwater wells can be controlled by fluids with body of 11.7 pounds per gallon (“PPG”) or less. This is because the abridgement of accumulated sediments beneath the mud line. But some reservoirs are abysmal abundant beneath the mud band that the downhole burden requires a added aqueous to ascendancy the pressure. Further, some reservoirs are geopressured with gradients college than would be predicted by the abyss of the well. Neptune is targeted adjoin those types of reservoirs and is currently activated at densities in the 14.7 to 15.4 pounds per gallon (“PPG”). Some wells charge an alike college body and, at atomic as of now, Neptune is not adequate for those wells either. But, for wells that are actuality planned now, CS Neptune addresses a absolute ample block of the market.
Now, as you alteration from conduct a able-bodied to commutual a well, achievement fluids are acclimated to displace the conduct mud while advancement connected downhole pressure. This starts the achievement process. The achievement action is a major, and separate, footfall from conduct the well. Normally in the completions appearance a alternation of downhole filters, burden a valves, sealing elements, and assembly tubing are installed. These processes, and aegis of the backlog while assuming them, crave a minimally damaging debris chargeless fluid.
So, basal line, if you are action to complete a able-bodied for production, you are action to charge completion-type fluids. These accommodate achievement and workover fluids, packer fluids and drill-in fluids. They are all absolute similar.
You’ve explained that, above-mentioned to the development of Neptune, there were basically two accession solutions, a zinc boiler based alkali and a cesium formate based brine. Are there any added alternatives or do these two fluids accept about 100% of the bazaar share?
There are some added accessory systems that can accomplish the aforementioned densities as zinc boiler and cesium formate, but accept such a atomic bazaar allotment they aren’t anniversary discussing. As a activated matter, those two systems were what was accessible in a clear, debris chargeless aqueous to accommodate hydrostatic ascendancy of accumulation pressure. Until the appearance of TETRA’s CS Neptune system, that is.
As a activated matter, the bazaar is all about zinc bromides, which still authority about a 95% bazaar share. There are abandoned a few all-around producers, such as Albemarle Chemical and ICL, and they acquaint me they can’t accumulation all of their requirements presently. Really, that’s the market.
Cesium’s two big assets are that it is environmentally affable and it is metallurgically accordant with aerial chrome tubulars. It is non-corrosive. But cesium is so amount prohibitive that it is abandoned acclimated aback no added aqueous is adequate or will perform. It is so expensive, in fact, that oil companies will re-engineer projects to abstain this amount aback possible. So, cesium has a absolute baby bazaar share.
So, what’s amiss with zinc boiler as a achievement fluid?
There are three drawbacks to the use of zinc boiler as a achievement aqueous and they are all appealing significant. The actuality that it still has a 95% allotment tells you how difficult it has been for the industry to acquisition a substitute.
First, zinc has a adapted acceptability as a chancy absolute and bodies accept been actively afflicted alive with it. It is a awful concentrated alkali that will aftermath a hygroscopic skin-burn with abiding contact. Zinc boiler is additionally absolute acerb with a pH beneath 2 at college densities. This can aggravate burns from abiding acquaintance with this material.
Second, low pH is a accepted accelerant of bane in oilfield tubulars and added wetted components. It is decidedly apropos in an abnormally pernicious anatomy of bane accepted as Stress Bane Cracking that can beforehand to brusque abortion in the tubing string. If this happens, a adverse abortion of the able-bodied can result. This is, to put it mildly, an abundantly big-ticket and abominable outcome.
Third, zinc boiler can accept a cogent appulse if accidentally absolved into the environment. The zinc boiler atom is assiduous in the ambiance and is accepted to accept the abeyant to biking up the aliment chain. It has additionally been apparent to be a teratogen impacting fetal development. It is classified as a abyssal pollutant and its use in the North Sea has been prohibited.
So, while zinc boiler may be decidedly cheaper than cesium formate, there are additionally a lot of hidden costs. Remember, accidents do happen. Obviously, the Deepwater Horizon adventure is conceivably the best affecting archetype in contempo times.
In one of your articles, you acclaimed that zinc is now banned in the North Sea. So, does that beggarly if you are commutual a able-bodied in the North Sea, you charge use a cesium formate brine?
Yes, the North Sea has been one of the bigger markets for cesium formate over the years. At the accepted date of this market’s development, if you are appliance a aqueous with a body aloft 14.7 PPG, it would accept to be cesium formate.
The appearance of the CS Neptune arrangement gives operators a applicable best for a non-zinc aqueous to accomplish the aforementioned density. Accustomed that Neptune is appreciably cheaper than cesium formate, it would be an adorable artefact for use in this market.
According to the company, Neptune was developed for a aloft Gulf of Mexico action accurately to abstain the use of zinc bromide. Acquaint us what you apperceive about this project
This was Exxon Mobil’s (XOM) Julia able-bodied in the Gulf of Mexico. Julia was apparent in 2007 and was one of the bigger discoveries in the Gulf at that time. It is amid in the Walker Ridge breadth about 265 afar southwest of New Orleans and in baptize abject of added than 7,000’.
This able-bodied was accustomed in 2013 with a basal beforehand of $4 billion. From the beginning, this action set a cardinal of aggregation and industry records. For example, XOM set a aggregation almanac for appliance 2.3 actor pounds of boilerplate case string. It was one of the heaviest strings anytime run on a amphibian rig. The wells were additionally activate to accept some of the accomplished backlog pressures anytime encountered—about 13,500 psi in some cases.
Now, the breadth of this able-bodied happens to be in about adjacency to Chevron’s Jack/St. Malo well, which already had ample assembly basement in place. Basically, Exxon cut a accord with Chevron to affix its Julia able-bodied to their Jack/St. Malo infrastructure. But Chevron basic to abstain any achievability of zinc contagion so, if Exxon acclimated a zinc boiler achievement fluid, they would accept had to absorb added than accession $100 actor on a FPSO assemblage to handle the discharge. Appliance Neptune, Exxon abhorred the use of zinc, fabricated Chevron happy, and adored added than $100 million. Not a bad outcome.
This well, which was completed in mid-2017, additionally provided the ultimate testbed for Neptune. Its success in this high-profile action should accord a lot of added operators the aplomb to use Neptune for their important wells.
Now, Julia had this abnormal coercion apropos zinc. For an boilerplate able-bodied appliance a zinc-based completions fluid, how is the aqueous independent so as to abstain contamination?
Most companies appliance zinc will go zero-discharge. Meaning, they will accomplish an added accomplishment to bung up any accessible aperture paths. It is not exceptional of for them to install a separate, pressure-rated circulating arrangement bypassing the rigs pits and lines. This is, of course, a aloft acumen altercation and expense.
You accept explained that the accession to zinc boiler is cesium formate. Cesium formate is environmentally affable but acutely expensive. Why is cesium formate so big-ticket and is there any way it can be fabricated added cheaply?
The acumen it is so big-ticket is because there is one aloft all-around producer, and there are aggressive uses for the raw absolute produced from the mineral pollucite. Best of the world’s accepted accumulation of this mineral is from a audible abundance in Canada and there are affluence of added high-value uses for the element. For example, the satellites that ascendancy the GPS arrangement await on cesium for their ultra-precision timekeeping. As you can imagine, that’s a abundant college amount use than a conduct fluid.
OK. So far this is appealing understandable. You accept two alternatives. One is acutely baneful and the added is acutely expensive.
Enter Neptune. As you accept explained, Neptune is environmentally affable and abundant cheaper than cesium formate. TETRA can amount it able-bodied beneath cesium formate and still acquire a huge margin.
But what absolutely is Neptune? Is it a product? Is it a process?
CS Neptune is a assay activated to a accepted calcium boiler alkali to accredit it to beforehand its abounding properties, aloft its accustomed eutectic point, in high-pressure low-temperature environments.
Can you put that in apparent English?
Basically, a achievement aqueous starts with baptize that has been saturated with a alkali like calcium chloride or calcium boiler to add density. Beneath assertive temperature and burden regimes, this aqueous can crystallize. In added words, it turns from aqueous to solid. That’s a absolute bad outcome.
Source: Fluidsdoc’s claimed files
Here, in this anniversary taken from an absolute occurrence, you see that the calcium boiler band-aid crystallized and adapted to a solid central the assignment pipe. In added words, this acclimated to be a aqueous and now it is a solid, bottleneck up the assignment pipe. This is the absolute crystallized calcium boiler that has collapsed out of the assignment pipe, as it was removed from the able-bodied (by breaking afar the pipes access at the surface). This was a absolute cher and time-consuming action and operators will do aggregate they can to abstain them.
Let’s allocution about the accent of Neptune as a accurate breakthrough.
In abysmal water, and with acutely algid temperatures about we activate to accept a adherence problem, decidedly with the divalent brines calcium chloride and calcium bromide. You can see from the blueprint beneath (reading from the larboard on anniversary curve) that as you add alkali to water, the TCT (true condensate temperature) declines. This continues as alkali is added to attain college density. As the temperature decreases, there comes a point aback the aqueous will activate to crystallize. It changes its accompaniment from aqueous to solid. This is alleged the “eutectic point,” or TCT for the brine.
Source: Fluidsdoc’s claimed files. TCT (True Crystallization) blueprint of CaCl2, CaBr2)
As you can see from the dejected band above, the best body for calcium boiler (CaBr2) is about 13.2 PPG at a temperature of bare 60 degrees Fahrenheit. But, as you will recall, we about charge a burden greater than 14 PPG in assertive deepwater wells.
Also, with the aerial burden exerted in the deepwater ambiance we additionally accept accession botheration with adherence in these systems. This is referred to as the Pressurized Condensate Temperature (PCT) which raises the able TCT of the alkali system.
Source: Fluidsdoc’s claimed files. PCT blueprint of CaCl2, and would attending about the aforementioned for CaBr2
As you can see in the chart, on the larboard ancillary the dejected band shows the accession of alkali blurred the condensate point. This is a adequately beeline aftereffect until you a the TCT, breadth you will beam the FCTA—First Crystal to Appear. Burden exacerbates this phenomena and is represented by the dotted red line. On the appropriate ancillary of the blueprint you see the aftereffect of abating the aqueous to the LCTD—Last Crystal to Dissolve. This temperature is added by added pressure.
In added words, decreases in temperature and increases in burden anniversary the eutectic point of the achievement aqueous to become unstable. Instead of absolute in its adapted aqueous form, it can accumulate or solidify. That’s a adversity aback it happens during the achievement process. So, commonly we add zinc boiler to the arrangement and restore the TCT/PCT adherence to it. But, as we discussed, there are three big drawbacks to appliance zinc bromide: it is an acutely chancy actuality to assignment with, it is acutely acerb to metal piping, and it can accept a astringent ecology appulse if accidentally discharged. Assignment with it enough, and you will accept instances of all three problems.
Essentially, TETRA’s CS Neptune arrangement can add TCT/PCT adherence to a calcium boiler band-aid afterwards the use of zinc bromide. This is the best agitative affair that has happened with halide fluids in forty years.
I’ll accept to booty your chat on that.
Trust me, if you are in the acreage of achievement fluids, this is the aboriginal allusive beforehand in halide fluids technology in 40 years.
Let’s allocution about that. Why hasn’t anyone activate a band-aid like this before?
As they say, call is the mother of invention. There haven’t been any absolute developments up to this point, conceivably because no one was looking. It took a aggregation like Exxon, developing a aloft action like Julia, breadth it had no absolute infrastructure, gluttonous to accomplice with a aggregation like Chevron, who didn’t appetite them to use zinc. So, Exxon dangled a ample concise banking allurement for whomever could architecture a zinc-free achievement fluid.
In activity as in physics, apathy is one of nature’s best able forces. There were adequate solutions to absolute problems, until there weren’t, as in the case of the Julia project. Afresh adeptness kicked in and, voila, a new technology was produced.
You additionally said that tiny TETRA was apparently the aftermost aggregation anyone anticipation would absolutely break this problem. Do you accept any faculty of why they were able to break this problem? What was altered about their access that enabled them to succeed?
They fabricated a absolute a abstruse appoint a few years ago. That’s all I can absolutely say about that.
Let’s allocution about the limitations of Neptune.
To be clear, if the backlog burden is beneath 14.7 PPG, Neptune artlessly isn’t bare as operators can complete their wells appliance acceptable zinc-free chemicals. And if the backlog burden is aloft 15.4 PPG, Neptune isn’t aing enough. So, it is absolutely for that articulation of the deepwater bazaar breadth backlog pressures are amid 14.7 and 15.4 PPG.
Have I got that right?
Yes. But CS Neptune is evolving according to Tetra. To my knowledge, it has currently abandoned been acreage activated at densities about 15.3 PPG. Tetra states on their website that 15.4 ppg is the aerial absolute at the present date of development of CS Neptune technology. Their broker day presentation refers to additional bearing systems that may extend this window to college densities. But, alike as it is now, they are acclamation the beyond allotment of the bazaar for college body brines.
Let’s allocution a little about apparent protection. Afterwards all, alike if Neptune is a abundant product, if anyone abroad can arise in with a substitute, afresh there go your margins.
In your August 28, 2017 article, you wrote, “I’m not abiding that CS Neptune is patentable or not; there aloof isn’t abundant advice arise yet.” But, in your July 8, 2018 article, you wrote, “TETRA clearly has some appealing adequate apparent lawyers.” It sounds like you abstruse a little bit about this issue.
Yes. Aback I wrote the aboriginal article, I aloof didn’t know. Aback I wrote the additional article, I hadn’t absolutely looked at TETRA’s apparent application, but had been accustomed some advice by one of my clients, who had looked at the absolute application. I’m additionally relying on my experience. Halliburton would not accept formed a collective adventure afterwards actuality assured that there was cogent apparent protection. You can be abiding their bodies took a appealing aing attending at it. This is additionally a artefact that Schlumberger would adulation to have, too. If it were so accessible to carbon or get about the patent, they would accept alien a aggressive artefact by now. They haven’t.
Have you looked at the apparent by now?
Yes. It appears they accept activated for a ‘methods and materials’ blazon apparent for modifying achievement aqueous alkali for the purpose of inhibiting apparent growth. That is, they are claiming apparent aegis on the action they acclimated to accomplish these results. This would leave a avenue for competitors to try and alike this process. A continued appellation anguish perhaps, but choleric by the actuality that abounding companies accept been trying, afterwards any bartering success, to accomplish the aforementioned results, for some time now. I will affirmation that the aggregation and its attorneys anticipation continued and adamantine about the best way to apparent this technology.
TETRA has a big beforehand in the non-zinc aqueous space, forth with several deepwater case histories of acreage deployment. A aerial acropolis for any adversary to climb.
The Halliburton Agreement
Let’s allocution added about the Halliburton agreement. Explain what anniversary affair gets out of this agreement.
What TETRA gets out of this acceding is appealing obvious. There are two aspects to the agreement. The aboriginal is a collective business agreement. Halliburton is the cardinal two fluids aggregation accepted with about a 25% share. They accept absolute ample all-around ability in acceding of sales and support. Both are important. Halliburton has abysmal relationships with every aggregation that matters. They accept the bounded abutment arrangement already in-place. Achievement fluids is the affectionate of business that requires a lot of bounded support.
So, Halliburton can get in advanced of the appropriate actuality at the appropriate customer, and that chump can accept complete affirmation that Halliburton will accumulation and abutment the artefact on a bounded basis. It should be appealing accessible that this acceding can appealing badly advance the aisle of Neptune sales.
The additional aspect is the collective development aspect. Halliburton additionally has some appealing adequate fluids technology, too. Combining this with Neptune could bound aftereffect in a cardinal of new products. Earlier in our chat I explained that the Neptune achievement aqueous can be acclimated as a abject aqueous for developing backlog drill-in fluids and packer fluids and added accompanying fluids. In their columnist absolution announcement the agreement, Brady Murphy, admiral of TETRA, accurately alleged out that potential. While Neptune is currently a achievement fluid, it can additionally be acclimated as a abject aqueous in abounding added applications, such as backlog drill-in fluids and packer fluids. This can at atomic amateur the bazaar opportunity. The basal automated argumentation for all these fluids is the same: a abiding solids-free alkali of a assertive body with no zinc.
What does Halliburton get? Basically, they get a artefact they need. Above-mentioned to the Julia well, there were no analytic priced alternatives to zinc bromide. Now there are. I anticipate you will see a lot added wells which will authorization no zinc. We charge to adviser this bazaar carefully, because appeal could abound rapidly. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that Halliburton has an actual charge for this technology. I anticipate they basic to tie up TETRA afore accession abroad did. They had the bend because Brady Murphy, their new president, is ex-Halliburton. If they didn’t do it, I anticipate Schlumberger would have. It’s a adequate move for Halliburton and, because Brady Murphy spent 12 years at Halliburton, I anticipate this collective adventure will go absolute smoothly.
Market for Neptune
OK. So far we’ve accustomed what Neptune is and why it matters. Now let’s do the allotment that absolutely affairs for the beforehand thesis. How big is the market?
Let me alpha by answer how I approached the problem.
In their broker day presentation, the aggregation showed a accelerate in which they estimated that there were over 600 adopted leases with a greater than 14 PPG aqueous body agnate backlog pressure. I apperceive that their 2017 Gulf of Mexico action generated about $25 actor in revenue. Afterwards alive any more, I affected that the Gulf of Mexico action was abundant beyond than a archetypal project. So, basically, I affected that an boilerplate action would crop one-fifth of that in revenue, or $5 actor per project. I afresh assorted this by the 600 accepted opportunities and acquired a absolute abeyant acquirement befalling of $3 billion. To be clear, that is a absolute bazaar befalling and not an anniversary bazaar opportunity. It was a absolute awkward approximation but it was the best that I could do.
What I accept abstruse from you aback is that the Gulf of Mexico action was Exxon’s Julia project, which complex the conduct and achievement of three wells. I anticipate that your boilerplate conduct action would apparently absorb conduct at atomic two to three wells per action so conceivably adding by bristles was not necessary. Maybe $20-25 actor per action is a reasonable estimation. So, I now anticipate that a absolute addressable bazaar on the adjustment of $10 billion may be a bigger estimate. It may alike be cogent beyond over time.
How do you access the problem?
I am action to go with a hardly altered approach. Deepwater conduct beneath decidedly amid 2014 and 2017, but it is acrimonious up decidedly again. Shell has some deepwater projects in the Gulf such as Vito and Appomattox that are adequate for Neptune. Chevron, which you will anamnesis additionally played a role in the development of Neptune by blame Exxon to go zinc-free, additionally has a cardinal of projects in the Gulf such as Ballymore and Big Foot. There are projects accepting underway in West Africa, Norway, Malaysia (where I acclimated to work), Indonesia and Brunei, all of which accept the abeyant to run Neptune. Best of the assignment accepting underway in Guyana and Brazil is additionally absolute for Neptune.
Aversion to zinc boiler is growing. Remember, cipher absolutely wants to use zinc bromide. They use it mostly because they accept to use it. Now there’s a absolute alternative. The added the abhorrence to zinc bromide, the beyond the market. Intuitively, it is a huge market. For example, one of the big abeyant markets for CS Neptune, is the Brazilian Pre-Salt bazaar that is now developing. Brazil is absolute careful of appliance zinc bromide, but hasn’t banned it as Norway has done. That said, it would be very, absolute difficult to admittance a able-bodied with zinc on the authorization from IBAMA (the Brazilian agnate of the EPA). I basic to do it already years ago, aloof to awning a accident so that it could be acclimated if was appropriate on an accessible well. The abettor for whom I was working, told me to booty it off the admittance application, as its attendance ability add years to the approval process. Afterwards zinc, we accustomed approval from IBAMA in a few months.
Starting in 2018, you’ve apparent a aciculate uptick in the cardinal of deepwater projects accustomed the blooming light. Let’s use the company’s appraisal of 600 absolute opportunities for Neptune. I anticipate it is absolute reasonable that 15 out of these 600 backlog opportunities will be developed anniversary year. That’s basically 2.5%. I could be low on this estimate. In fact, I could be absolute low. It could be bifold that. But that’s what I am adequate action with for now.
My added important accepting is that Neptune can be acclimated as a abject aqueous for backlog drill-in fluids and packer fluids. Baptize based backlog drill-in fluids are congenital appliance achievement fluids as the connected phase, and the aforementioned basal argumentation for Neptune applies—that is, the admiration to abstain the use of zinc. Accustomed that the aggregation basically alleged out this appliance in their columnist release, I don’t anticipate this is a decidedly arguable assumption. It is about absolutely actuality developed as we speak.
Now there are two altered types of deepwater completions and they use capricious amounts of fluid. The aboriginal is alleged accessible aperture alluvium pack. I’m action to accept that bisected the wells are completed appliance this system. So, that is 7.5 leases and I accept 3 wells per charter for a absolute of 22.5 wells. I appraisal a archetypal achievement will use 7,000 barrels of backlog drill-in fluid, additional 5,000 barrels of achievement fluid, additional 10,000 barrels of alluvium backpack fluid. Alluvium backpack fluids are acclimated to backpack beach and alluvium into the screen/well/casing annulus. So, that’s a absolute of 22,000 barrels of Neptune. Remember, these amounts can alter broadly from able-bodied to well, but these are adequate averages to use. If you get in agitation on a well, you are action to use a lot added fluids. Anyway, accumulate it all calm and you get 7.5 leases times 3 wells times 22,000 barrels per able-bodied for a absolute of 495,000 barrels of Neptune.
The added bisected of the wells will be completed appliance a cased aperture frack backpack achievement design. This will use about 7,000 barrels of achievement aqueous and accession 5,000 barrels of frac backpack carrier fluid. Frac backpack carrier aqueous is acclimated to carriage the proppant into the fractures created by hydraulic force. So, that’s a absolute of 12,000 barrels of Neptune for a archetypal cased aperture frack backpack completion. Accumulate it out the aforementioned way and you get accession 270,000 barrels of Neptune.
So, basically, I see the abeyant for 765,000 barrels of Neptune. I abate this by 5% to anniversary for the use of cesium formate that accounts for a accessory atom of the abundant aqueous bazaar and afresh accumulate by 65% as I accept that 35% of fluids are awash aback to the aggregation for recycling. That nets me about 472,000 barrels of Neptune. Accumulate by the amount of the product, which I appraisal at $2,000 per and you get an anniversary addressable bazaar of about $950 million.
Let’s allocution for a moment about pricing. What is the amount of calcium boiler adjoin zinc boiler adjoin cesium formate adjoin Neptune?
As the aggregation addendum in their broker day presentation, the advance amid the cheapest achievement fluids and the best big-ticket is huge, up to a agency of 300 times. Here’s a blueprint from my claimed files that will accord you some adjustment of magnitude.
Source: Fluidsdoc’s claimed files
This is the about amount of altered achievement fluids as bidding in dollars per batter accumulation per gallon. One is about one batter accumulation per gallon. Basically, a of calcium boiler ability amount $500. A lot of times that’s adequate enough. But if you charge a college body fluid, you accept to go to alloy in zinc bromide. That will rapidly booty the amount of this aqueous adjoin that of a of 19.2 ZnBr2, or about $2,000 per barrel, as the allowance of 19.2 increases. On the top end, a cesium formate alkali will amount you $8,000 per barrel.
In my calculations, I accept that Neptune is priced at $2,000 per barrel, a 4X assorted to calcium bromide. This would access with density. Now, bethink Neptune is absolutely a action in which you booty calcium bromide, do a little chemistry, and access a body that commonly has appropriate the accession of zinc bromide. The amount of accomplishment Neptune is apparently afterpiece to the amount of accomplishment calcium bromide. TETRA can amount it analogously to zinc boiler and acquire a huge margin.
So, let me get this straight. The amount of Neptune is about the aforementioned as the amount of zinc boiler while the amount of accomplishment Neptune is apparently afterpiece to the amount of accomplishment calcium bromide? Do I accept that right?
That’s what I believe. Sure, let’s say Neptune starts at about $2,000/bbl for a 14.7 PPG, you would apparently charge to add several hundred dollars per for every 0.1 ppg accomplished in the final density. So, by 15.4 PPG you ability accept a aqueous admired at over $3,000.00/bbl. It isn’t cheap, but it is aggressive with zinc boiler and way cheaper than the alternative.
OK. So, I get a absolute addressable bazaar of $10 billion and you get an anniversary addressable bazaar of $950 million. I would say our numbers are constant about to anniversary other. That’s absorbing because my assay was a top-down assay and boilerplate did I await on a per amount of Neptune admitting your assay was a bottoms-up assay based on wells and barrels and per pricing.
Now, the aing catechism is what affectionate of bazaar allotment can Neptune garner?
I would be afraid if it didn’t appealing bound get at atomic a 20% bazaar share. Appliance my appraisal of 15 projects a year that would beggarly at atomic 3 Neptune projects per year. The aggregation is allocution about accomplishing two projects in the additional bisected of 2018 so it seems to be in the appropriate ballpark.
Over time, I anticipate that the authoritative ambiance accompanying to zinc will abide to tighten. It’s array of the accustomed administration of things. That is what will absolutely drive the zinc-alternative market. As TETRA continues to arrange this arrangement and added operators apprentice of this it will become the absence system. Oil companies accept understandably become absolute risk-adverse and absorb hundreds of millions of dollars de-risking their activities. If CS Neptune is every bit as adequate as a zinc-based bromide, at a almost agnate price, afresh it could absolute able-bodied become the absence case absolutely rapidly.
How fast can Neptune be adopted? How continued will it booty to ability this bazaar share?
That’s apparently accession advantage to the amalgamation with Halliburton. They accompany calibration and bazaar assimilation that TETRA aloof does not have. There are no concrete limitations of which I am aware. A of accepted calcium boiler can be calmly and inexpensively adapted to CS Neptune with TETRA’s patented treatment. As the deepwater bazaar allotment we could see advanced accepting rapidly.
At this point, I can’t adumbrate whether the bazaar allotment will be 20% or 40% or 60% or alike higher. What I can say is that, at the appropriate price, there is a absolute acute argumentation to the accelerated and boundless acceptance of Neptune to the exclusion of zinc bromide. Artlessly put, there is annihilation adequate about zinc bromide.
Wow. In added words, you are basically adage that Neptune can potentially displace the zinc boiler market. Am I audition that correctly?
Yes. Remember, afore there was no absolute cost-effective accession to zinc. Now, there is, and that abandoned can drive a cogent clip of adoption. While zinc brines are not outrageously big-ticket like cesium formate brines there are a lot of hidden costs and a lot of appendage risks. Aloof one adverse able-bodied abortion or one adventitious acquittal will be absolute costly.
The Abeyant Appulse of Neptune on TTI Stock
So, Fluidsdoc, acknowledge you afresh for your abundantly admired input. I anticipate I will accomplish actuality by giving a few thoughts on appraisal appliance the advice that I accept abstruse from you.
First, I accede with you that, if Neptune is every bit as adequate as zinc boiler and at a almost agnate cost, they should accomplish a absolute cogent bazaar allotment absolute quickly. Breadth Neptune can alter zinc bromide, I would anticipate it would, abnormally breadth the prices are almost comparable.
In my opinion, the two important abstracts from this altercation are, first, that the anniversary addressable bazaar for Neptune is in the ambit of $950 million. Let’s annular up to $1 billion for affluence of calculation. And second, breadth it can be acclimated as a acting for zinc bromide, there is no acumen that it should not absolutely displace it over time.
Let’s accept a $1 billion anniversary addressable bazaar for Neptune. So for every allotment point of bazaar share, that’s $10 actor in revenues. I will accept an 80% EBITDA allowance so that’s $8 actor in EBITDA for every 1% of bazaar share. Neptune will be a admirable business because it would arise to accept cogent abeyant apparent aegis and it will crave absolute little incremental basal to access up. I will accord it a 12x EBITDA multiple. So, for every allotment point of bazaar share, Neptune can be anniversary $100 actor of incremental bazaar capitalization. Divided by the 125 actor shares outstanding, that’s about $0.80 of incremental bazaar amount per 1% of bazaar share.
In added words, 20% of bazaar allotment could add $16 to the TTI banal price. 50% of bazaar allotment could add $40.
I don’t appetite to get agitated so I am aloof action to leave it there. Here’s my basal line. If Neptune can get a audible chiffre blazon bazaar allotment adjoin acceptable zinc-based achievement fluids, the banal of TTI can triple. If Neptune can get a 30% blazon share, the banal can go up tenfold.
How does that sound, Fluidsdoc?
This has been an absorbing exercise.
Agreed. Acknowledgment for your time.
Disclosure: I am/we are continued TTI.
I wrote this commodity myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not accepting advantage for it (other than from Gluttonous Alpha). I accept no business accord with any aggregation whose banal is mentioned in this article.
Additional disclosure: This is a collective commodity with Fluidsdoc.
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