Solar-enhanced system serves up ‘pie in the sky’ a la mode
E&P magazine, Feb. 3, 2014
System reduces pumpjack strokes while maintaining production rate and providing a ‘zero-waste solution.’
By Amy Logan, Senior Editor, Production
Harold Eulick, a pumper with Arrow Energy since 1955, knows his pumpjacks. So when Kavan Graybill, owner and inventor of Solar Jack, first visited Arrow’s field in Fittstown, Okla., and told Eulick he had a product that could maintain the production rate and also shave thousands off the field’s energy and maintenance costs, Eulick thought he was peddling “pie in the sky” false hopes.
But after one year of operating 11 of the 12 pumpjacks off Graybill’s patent-pending Solar Jack system, Eulick became a convert. An average power bill of US $15,000 a month was suddenly reduced to $6,000 a month, and the smoother efficiency of the aged pumpjacks meant fewer repairs and replacement parts were needed while the same amount of oil was produced.
Solar Jack is a solar-enhanced variable-speed system that works on any beam-balanced pumpjack. The net-metered and hybrid Solar Jack systems can easily fit on systems that are 20 hp or above; anything over 150 hp requires a custom-designed system.
Graybill’s young startup business currently has 23 Solar Jacks operating on the grid in and around central Oklahoma, but he said off-grid wells “are definitely potential targets” as well.
“A lot of operators are faced with rising utility costs,” Graybill said, “so we’ve figured out a way to take the regenerated energy that a pumpjack naturally makes and use it to either store the energy or clean it up and use it to offset the energy needed to run the pump, offering oil companies a zero-waste solution.”
Graybill said he places the solar panels over the control boxes, offering a lot of shade for the Solar Jack components and keeping everything cool so the control systems are able to run efficiently. Solar Jack also qualifies for utility rebates and any and all federal and state green energy tax incentives.
“There are people out there installing solar panels that help save electricity, and there are people selling drives to slow the variable-speed drive of the pump-jack,” said Randy Flack, vice president of Solar Jack. “As far as we know, we are the only company that combines it all. In fact, that’s our secret sauce.”
According to Graybill, operators will benefit from having a solar system that will not only reduce their energy costs and consumption but also reduce the pumpjack’s number of strokes per minute, thereby reducing noise and wear and tear on the machinery. The fact that pumpers like Eulick are able to maintain full control of the units and still produce the same amount of oil is just the ice cream on the pie.