Page 10 - BowieNews

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10 •
N
orth
T
exas
E
nergy
O
utlook
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
By BARBARA GREEN
Back in 1949 T.J. Skin-
ner bought his first tank
truck from his brother
and started Skinner Tank
Trucks in Nocona.
Sixty-five years later,
his son Jeff, has added
a new high-tech Frack
Water Heater truck to his
fleet expanding a family
business serving North
Texas.
Jeff Skinner, 59, grew
up standing in a truck
seat next to his father.
He never left
working
along side his father.
His late brother Tom-
my, who passed away last
September, decided he
did not want to join them
after he returned home
from serving in Viet-
nam. However, Tommy’s
daughter, Kari and hus-
band, Harry Reid, both
work in the company
maintaining the family
interest.
Skinner recalls his
father borrowed money
to buy his first and third
truck, and after those
were paid off he main-
tained a “cash only” op-
eration. His son proudly
states it is a business
model they maintain to-
day.
Tank truck services
cover an array of tasks
in the oil field from haul-
ing and disposing of salt
water to the transfer
of drilling mud and the
heating of water and oil
at drilling sites.
Skinner says his is one
of the few companies that
does not operate a night
shift, despite encourage-
ment from operators to do
so. He laughs that he has
seen three oil booms and
survived them all so far.
The businessman feels
strongly enough about
the present energy in-
dustry that he has made
a $500,000 investment
to buy the frack water
heater unit. It is unique
in that it is the only one
of its kind he is aware
of being used in North
Texas. The closest one
he has heard of is in Elk
City, OK.
This unit heats water
to a higher ambient tem-
perature in cold weather.
Skinner explains warmer
water is needed to mix
some chemicals during
the fracturing process,
and to do casing string
and cementing. Those
require water in the 50
to 60 degree range.
Skinner says these
units are used all over
Canada, but they don’t
seem to be as prevalent in
the south probably due
to our moderate weather.
Water and oil are heated
at drilling sites for differ-
ent reason.
Water is warmed pri-
marily for frack drilling,
while oil is warmed to
separate the parafin and
water, and also to break
up any emulsion from
storage. The Skinners
have used their hot oil
trucks for both tasks and
they stay busy. The new
heater will only handle
water, not oil.
This heater unit, which
was ordered last October
and arrived in April, is
ready to go as the cooler
weather sets in. It sits
atop a 62,000 pound trail-
er, hauled by a sleeper
truck for a total combined
weight of 80,000 pounds.
Skinner said the job may
be 10 hours, or it could
run 50, so he opted for
the sleeper.
While giving a tour of
the shiny silver and red
truck, Skinner states this
new truck will do what
it would take six hot oil
units to produce. Once
hoses are are connected
to the box tank, that may
hold up to 21,000 gallons
or 500 barrels of wa-
ter, the water circulates
through steel pipe coils
in the heater tank. Water
also can be pumped from
an in-ground frac water
tank.
At the base of the heat-
er is a bank of propane-
fueled burners that can
generate input up to 44
million Btu input. The
insulation inside the
heater was developed by
NASA.
It burns 250 gallons
of propane an hour and
will operate on one fill
for about 10 hours. The
unit has its own propane
pump, but because it
burns so fast, it vapor-
izes liquid through the
heat exchange. The tanks
looks similar to water
heaters with a sparking
unit at each base.
“It will circulate 12
to 14 barrels a minute,
whereas an oil truck cir-
culates two barrels a
minute,” exclaims Skin-
ner. “It will put a 100
degrees of the ambient
temperature, so if the
water is 40 degrees
it
will come out near 140
degrees.”
The operator moni-
tors heat, pressure and
related gauges on a panel
behind the unit, near the
hoses. Skinner said he
will probably run in the
120
to 140 degree range,
although the gauge tops
out at 180 degrees.
Once the water circu-
lates through and comes
back at the desired tem-
perature, he knows all
the water has been cir-
culated through the tank.
He adds there will be
fluctuations due to wind,
outside temperature and
due to heat rising, differ-
ent sections of the tank
can have varying tem-
peratures.
Skinner tried out the
unit heating 500 barrels
in the truck yard, but
has a bit of “tweaking
to do” before it goes into
the field. He hopes to get
the word out and expand
his business possibly
into southern Oklahoma
where the Woodford is
developing around Mari-
etta and Durant.
This longtime energy
operator is excited to
get the unit out into the
field and see what it can
do. He created a flashy
red-and-white flame logo
calling it “flash heater.”
Making such a hefty
investment shows Skin-
ner feels the energy busi-
ness is still strong, de-
spite reduced drilling.
“I was told a fewweeks
ago by a person with
Devon, they are looking
a refracs on 400 wells,”
relates Skinner.
“That was the original
intent in the Barnett
Shale, extending those
original fractures. We
work a combination of oil
and gas in this county,
but we also are work-
ing properties originally
drilled in the 1930s and
1940s.”
He agrees technology
has helped the industry
make great strides, es-
pecially in completion
techniques and improved
safety. The biggest dan-
ger in the water unit is
lighting the heater as its
massive burners fire up
to heat the water.
Skinner says the hot
oil truck is more danger-
ous due to the volatility
of the product, adjacent
pipelines and oil tem-
peratures that top 280
degrees.
“Common sense is
still the most important
thing,” concludes Skin-
ner.
Skinner Tank Trucks ready to ‘heat up’ oil field
News photo by Barbara Green
Jeff Skinner shows off the bank of propane heaters that warm the water coils of the
frack water heater unit.