Great article on ENERGYx cohort member, Louisiana Technical Instruments.
Startup Closeup: Louisiana Technical Instruments navigates tricky energy industry
By: Quincy Hodges, Reporter
April 25, 2016
Louisiana Technical Instruments, a startup headquartered in Covington, is aiming to use its technology to reduce “methane bleed” to help pipelines meet emissions standards.
The company, which was launched in fall 2015, came about after the federal government released goals to reduce methane emissions from the natural gas and petroleum industry by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2015.
“My dad invented a device 20 years ago that reduces methane emissions from pneumatic devices on pipelines,” said CEO Chad Deville said. “He and I developed a new platform and I patented it and went to The Idea Village, showed it to them and they thought it was good idea.”
Louisiana Technical Instruments’ proprietary technology is called the Environmental Pneumatic Abatement System, which provides one solution for reducing pneumatic controller methane emissions and decreasing “lost and unaccounted for” gas.
The EPAS is described as the first non-intrusive device that is adaptable to any preexisting pneumatic controller to reduce methane bleed from pipelines and, as a result, allow operators to recapture lost profits.
Deville jump-started his company going through the Idea Village‘s ENERGYx and CAPITALx accelerator programs.
CONCEPT: Deville said that on a pipeline, or in a production field, there are pneumatic controllers that bleed natural gas or methane into the atmosphere.
“So what our device does, it attaches to the outside of any preexisting pneumatic controller and reduces its methane emissions below regulation,” Deville said.
With the device, Deville said his clients won’t have to worry about frequent inspections or fines.
FUNDING: The company is self-funded and tested its prototype at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. A board of advisors is providing a loan that converts to equity when future funding becomes available.
Deville said his company is working with three major oil companies and two venture capitalist firms that are interested in providing money.
“We’re trying to get to the point where we can put it out in the field on an actual pipeline or an actual production rig to show that it works out in the field and collect that data.”
COMPETITION: Deville said his company is operating in a niche market, trying to compete with a couple of retrofit kits that don’t work that well due to clogging concerns and limited adaptions to various pipelines.
Of lagging oil prices, he said, “I think it actually helps my business because whenever oil prices are down, the natural gas prices are down. Companies are looking for any reason to save money. So whenever you reduce methane emissions, you’re actually putting money back into the operators’ pockets because they are not losing that gas to the atmosphere. Now it’s back in their pipeline.”
CHALLENGES: Deville said Louisiana’s oil and gas industry can be a tough one for startups.
“In this industry, if you make one mistake on a pipeline or production rig, it can be disastrous,” he said. “They generally want to deal with established companies, companies that have reputations or are making quality products.
And here I am, a startup – I can say it’s a quality product and I can show them data and show them everything I want, but they are still a little skeptical in using it.”
ADVICE: “Take your time and don’t rush into it. I think a lot of entrepreneurs rush into their space and they don’t fully take the time to do their homework. There’s financing, inventory and everything that goes into building a business. You have to have quality people around you. If you have support system in place, it makes it a whole lot lot of difference.”