AZTEC — When it comes to natural gas production, sometimes size matters, or not.
Compression units are the hearts of natural gas wells to keep them producing, and Poquito Compression, an Aztec company, might be the last stop before well owners cap a well.
"We have the smallest compressors around," said company owner William Yeager.
Yeager said he has worked in the oil fields for more than 20 years and using that experience he designed a compressor to keep wells going that are producing less than 100 Mcf. An Mcf is 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas.
He said he has 16 units that he rents out but can build compressors for people who want to own one. Overall, he said he's built 130 units, all based on his custom design.
The compressor runs on natural gas generated at the well site that powers a 15-horsepower Kawasaki 325 engine. He has larger units available, but they are all designed for low-producing wells.
Since the engines are smaller, Yeager said, the oil changes are needed every two months if the unit is running all day and night.
Prices for natural gas seem to be leveling off after dropping precipitously, but production in the San Juan Basin isn't expected to pick up anytime soon. That doesn't worry Yeager.
He said as well production in the San Juan Basin drops off, he expects his compression units to play a role in well revitalization.
"Don't Plug and Abandon- Pocquito!" his website states.
Wally Drangmiester, spokesperson for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said smaller compressors could play a role in the last stages of wells before they are capped.
"Most of the formations (in the San Juan Basin) are low pressure formations," he said, allowing for smaller compressors to be more effective in drawing out natural gas.
"Smaller devices extends the life of the well," he said.
Large natural gas producing companies operating in the San Juan Basin declined comment for this story, but Drangmiester said larger companies usually don't have needs for small compressors because they generate larger quantities of gas and can afford the higher overhead costs.
Regardless, Yeager said he thinks his business will grow in the coming years. In the meantime, he is working out of his garage with room enough for a pool table among the scattered tools. And a yard outside the garage is parked a truck that he enters in demolition derbies.
He said he's worked on compressors that generate 500,000 Mcf a day, and knows that the well will eventually dry up.
"This is what they'll downsize to," he said.Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638.and email@example.com. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.