Clever Customizations

Custom Compression Systems

Custom Compression Systems offers quality stock and custom engineered gas compression packages as well as aftermarket service packages to both domestic and international markets. We spoke with the company’s President, Bob Carter.
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The company’s origins date to 1996 although, at the time, the team worked in both process equipment and compression. 2010 saw a split into two companies. It then re-emerged as Custom Compression Systems, primarily focusing on the compression side of the business. The other company became Custom Process Equipment and is the sister company to this day.

“In 2010, the company started in the compression side of the business and focused on building out compression equipment,” explains Mr. Carter. “That is how I came into contact with them as they were restructuring the company.” He later joined the company in 2011 and it has been growing steadily since. Revenues started at about $5 million per annum and, in 2013, peaked at $62 million.

Custom Compression Systems makes gas compression units for fluid lifting in oil and gas wells, natural gas gathering stations, offshore oil platforms and vapour recovery. In addition to custom projects and specific client orders, it also has a program which anticipates what the industry will need in the near future and builds up to two hundred packages per year just on speculation based on what is seen in the market.

“Our latest speculation build-out is on gas lift units. These are small horsepower units about ninety-five horsepower to four hundred horsepower and a variety of drivers.” Gas lift pumps use bubbles of compressed air to raise a fluid. These custom design packages will be used primarily for lifting fluids in either gas or oil wells and were designed and built specifically to meet most applications for this industry.

“It is a fairway of applications that we see, and we build them down this way. And they are built very strong and stout as packages with heavy duty skids – all completely our design – extra large scrubbers and additional cooling capacities with other things that we add into it.” A number of equipment rental companies have bought these speculation gas lift packages from Custom Compression Systems.

Recently one hundred and seventeen units of gas lift packages were sent to Mexico, but are different than the standard three stage packages built for the domestic market. The units will be supplied with gas lift or single stage units and are built for a higher operating pressure. There is no gas process cooler; the customized units are mounted on a shorter skid and are slightly different in overall design for this specific project.

“When we look at a specific project – a custom project is where it’s specific to that application – it goes from the design of the skid to the type of frame and the type of engine that we would put on there, as well as the different components on this specific application.”

The frame that the company wanted to use does not allow for the working pressures of the cylinders, so the cylinders were actually specifically designed for this application at a higher pressure and built for these compressor frames and installed for this application. “It was everything: from customizing the package itself, in the way it was designed and built, down to the actual cylinders that had to be customized for this specific application.”

Some of the company’s larger scale customizations are performed for large offshore platforms. Custom Compression Systems has designed modular units with components weighing no more than 70,000 pounds while the unit still remains capable of 3,300 to 3,500 horsepower. Each component has a weight maximum due to lifting capacities on the offshore platforms. Every section (the engine, skids, coolers, etc.), is removed down to the frame. These are very large double-decker units and built to be completely disassembled and reassembled on the platform where they receive a final weld. This extreme type of customization project requires months of engineering.

The company established a new facility to provide aftermarket services in Mooreland, Oklahoma, which is a growing sector within its business. Since the fall of 2013, it has actively been involved within this market in the Mid-Con region. “That is growing, and we also have a small rental fleet that surrounds that area,” Mr. Carter shares. “Our philosophy on the aftermarket service is to build a strong service base to take care of the customers, clients and needs.”

The company takes care of over two hundred pieces of equipment for customers. It works with its customers on a daily basis, taking care of everything from compressors to pump jacks to water flood units.

“It’s a little different than a rental business. Where a rental business usually chases a compressor with a mechanic, we have the mechanics in place and then we fold in compression as it’s opportunistic in the area we are offering the aftermarket services. We have about seventeen technicians up in Oklahoma, Texas Panhandle, and south Kansas. We are quite prepared for this.”

Ninety to ninety-five percent of the work that Custom Compression Systems does is in-house. The basic components of a compressor that it puts together include the engineering of the package, building of the skid, pedestals for the engine and compressors, scrubbers for the package itself, suction/inter-stage scrubbers, auxiliary piping and related components. It then adds the engine compressor and cooler.

In the past, the only items that were outsourced were some of the scrubbers and skids (parts not integral to the overall function of the units, but over which the company could maintain the same level of quality) which went primarily to its sister company Custom Process Equipment.

Last year, the company produced units totalling about 60,000 horsepower; this year will produce roughly 70,000 horsepower worth of build outs and next year it has planned to produce a total of 110,000 horsepower. The only problem now is that real estate in its vicinity is very valuable, limiting local expansion.

“This coming year – in 2015 – we are probably going to outsource somewhere around seventy-five percent of our skids due to the aggressive speculation build-out speculation program for next year. We will keep the scrubbers and piping in-house except for some spool pieces in the final assembly.”

When Custom Compression Systems outsources, it provides the drawings and the design which follows its quality control standards. Components are regularly inspected and watched and the company retains all responsibility for quality.

Mr. Carter is happy to express what he feels is the most important element of the business: “Service is something that we strongly believe in,” he says. “It is something that I have been involved in for most of my career in this industry. Right now, we have people offshore providing services on offshore platforms through different customers.”

Indeed, part of the company’s overall goal and philosophy is that it is not just a packager as many of its competitors are; it is a full service company. It is building a service organization and another separate service organization for the Gulf Coast area to go along with the services already in place in Oklahoma. Custom Compression Systems also provides services for its products in Mexico. Besides just building the product, the company feels that services supporting that product come together via a firsthand relationship with the customer.

“The stronger the services are, the stronger the business is – along with our product offering –because we can back up anything that the customer needs with on-the-spot service to support the product or even products that they buy from another vendor.”

August 17, 2017, 11:34 AM EDT

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