Operating a family-owned business in Indiana, I’ve seen firsthand solutions that benefit business, the environment and local jobs in the oil and gas industry do exist.
Methane detection and mitigation is one area in which we’ve seen great cooperation between businesses and environmental groups, and I love to tell the stories of our successes.
My parents, John and Nancy, started SENSIT Technologies in the 1980s. I was considered their second employee. Thirty-five years later, we’re still a family-owned and operated company based in Valparaiso.
While we started small, we now employ nearly 90 people. There isn’t a major domestic gas transmission or distribution company that we don’t do business with. Over the years, we have expanded our sales to users in more than 40 countries around the globe.
Throughout our history, SENSIT has been known for supplying natural gas companies with high-quality and highly accurate leak detection instruments that allow their workers to protect themselves and the public from the potential hazards associated with reported natural or propane gas odors. Most of our instruments are hand held and rapidly detect the gas that is present.
More recently though, oil and gas operators have been asking us for permanent and continuous leak-detection technology to help reduce methane waste, improve efficiency and lower fugitive emissions in specific areas of their systems.
We had to move rapidly to find the right partners in order to meet customer demand with the right technology. We worked hand-in-hand with select oil and gas operators, SenSevere (a Pittsburgh based developer of novel gas detection technologies) and the Environmental Defense Fund to develop specialized technology that could detect and monitor methane leaks.
The developed technology incorporates TDLAS (Tunable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy), which emits a specific wavelength of light that methane will absorb. This allows our customers to continuously monitor the specified area and obtain reliable real-time data. The system also includes alarms and other communication capabilities that can provide alerts in the event of changes exceeding a specified threshold.
Oil and gas operators were driven to request this technology, realizing that keeping more of their product in the pipe meant more profit and more cost savings as well as improved operational efficiency, greater safety for workers and the environment, less waste, cleaner air for the residents and greater compliance.
The product launches next month, and within 18 months, we should begin to gather some financial data that shows the cost savings from eliminating methane waste.
Successful deployment of this technology will be transformational for SENSIT Technologies and will allow us to grow and expand to bring more good jobs to the state of Indiana and continue to serve customer need.
There’s a lot we can learn from this sort of innovative partnership, and methane detection and mitigation is a great example of a win-win scenario for business, workers and the environment.
J. Scott Kleppe is president & CEO of Valparaiso-based Sensit Technologies. The opinions are the writer's.