AMGAS Services Inc. is a Rocky View, Alberta-based company with an international presence and several proprietary solutions for H2S management in oil and gas operations and other sectors. By removing contaminants such as hydrogen sulphide (H2S), benzene, toluene, and xylenes, its integrated solutions benefit both the environment and its clients’ bottom line. The company has continued to refine its offerings with a special emphasis on its ground-breaking CLEAR Technology.
Indeed, the single biggest change since the previous profile has been “the expansion and development of our CLEAR program… We were originally very focused on water treatment—which is still a tremendous part of our business. However, we expanded into oil treatment, then really focused in on the treatment of gas. We dove a lot deeper into the economics versus the strictly worker safety and emission control aspect of it,” says President Steve Martinson.
CLEAR Technology removes hydrogen sulphide from water, sour crude oil, and condensate, while giving the client the ultimate choice on whether or not chemicals are used in supporting the process. It was originally developed as an eco-friendly, safety-enhancing solution for companies doing well-testing, completions, under-balanced drilling, and similar duties. CLEAR’s purpose has since evolved, and the technology can now be used to help oil and gas companies meet environmental, social, and governance benchmarks while reducing costs.
“If oil has H2S in it, transport routes can be limited. A producer might be very near to a pipeline entry point but that pipeline can’t take H2S,” notes Brenden Meston, Vice President of Sales.
The company had a client in North Dakota who could not access local pipelines because his oil contained hydrogen sulphide. The client was forced to drive five and a half hours north to Saskatchewan to tap into a pipeline that could handle it. Using CLEAR Technology, AMGAS removed hydrogen sulphide from the oil at the client’s facility, eliminating the need for costly transport.
A company with hydrogen sulphide in its oil can also expect to receive a lower price for its product. “We take away that deduction, so now they’re getting premium dollar for their oil as well as getting the least costly transport option possible,” states Meston.
In a focused effort to bridge the gap between traditional chemical treatment of fluids and mechanical options the company has developed some hybrid or modified solutions. These include the CLEAR Injection System (CIS) and CLEAR Injection System Plus (CIS Plus) products which incorporate CLEAR Technology elements while providing a specific focus on individual project objectives. “It is imperative that we continuously consider the economic, social, and environmental climate in which we and our clients are operating.” Meston adds, “Expanding our offering within the CLEAR line of solutions allows for a weighted approach guided by a project’s specific needs.”
CIS is a “chemical-reduced injection system,” while CIS Plus features “some mechanical portions, as well as the injection system. [CIS Plus] is going be our flagship system and lead AMGAS’ future growth,” he says.
Among other products are the AMGAS Capture Technology (ACT), T-Series Scrubbers, High Gas Rate (HGR) scrubbers, and Truck Mount Scrubbers. You cannot buy these at a retail store. “We have a business-to-business structure. A lot of the time, we work through third-party engineering services. An oil company will hire people to develop their site layout and do planning, and we get involved with them. But it’s always business-to-business,” he explains.
Services cover everything from H2S management in well activity to turnarounds and shutdowns, sulphur-related services, terminals and transportation, processing and production, and tank gauging, and most of the company’s tasks are self-performed.
“We’re self-service. [We offer] a lot of turnkey services. Our engineering side has really grown and become a big source of pride. It gives us the ability to be flexible and nimble in our offering,” says Martinson. “Our boots on the ground offering has developed even further. We’ve got substantial staffing in America and in the Middle East. That part of it has grown.”
Besides oil and gas, the company serves the pulp and paper and agriculture sectors. The firm has also been doing a great deal of work with biogas. Biogas consists primarily of methane derived from decomposing organic matter such as manure, wood chips, plants, and solid waste. It represents a green way to produce fuel out of material that might normally go into a landfill. Going forward, biogas “has the potential to represent a big portion” of the company’s business, according to Meston.
Including the Calgary head office, AMGAS maintains five branches in Canada; one in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates; and two in the United States—in Texas and North Dakota. AMGAS acquired two Alberta-based companies—Roundline Transport and Impact Industrial—to expand its footprint and services. Roundline is a transportation and logistics company while Impact Industrial provides a wide array of fabrication and design services.
Total employment across all branches and acquisitions stands at around 120 workers, about the same number as this time last year. Martinson cites “attitude, a safety-first mindset, and a willingness to learn,” as the main prerequisites looked for in new hires.
“We love it when new team members have experience; we love it when they have education, but we’ve always been a bit of a niche business and the amount of in-house training that’s going to happen regardless of someone’s background is pretty substantial,” he points out.
The company rewards loyalty with in-house opportunities for advancement and promotion. “We’ve set this company up so it can be a career for people, as opposed to a job,” he says. “As we grow, we’ve developed different avenues for people in sales, marketing, engineering, and operations.”
Capitalizing on industry-leading in-house engineering expertise, and through acquisition and internal development, AMGAS is proudly adding combustion and incineration services to its solution offering. The company will “target incineration in high H2S environments,” says Meston, and will provide these incineration / combustion services at customers’ worksites.
“The addition of incineration and combustion solutions really increases our ability to fully service our clients’ needs,” states Martinson. “Incineration and combustion can be a tremendously effective solution when it’s applied in the right situations. It opens the door for a tremendous amount of offshoot opportunities for energy capture and energy re-use.”
During the COVID crisis, AMGAS introduced health protocols and safety measures to keep its staff from getting infected. As “a truly essential service,” the company “had no choice but to keep going” when the lockdowns were most stringent, he recalls.
The pandemic might have peaked but COVID is still wreaking havoc on the company’s supply chain, and inflation has proven to be another hindrance when it comes to buying supplies. Still, with the worst hopefully over, company officials are pleased that trade shows, which briefly became online-only events, are once again allowing people to attend in person.
“I would say we’re back to business as usual, and we do love the ability to be able to see and talk and interact with people,” he affirms.
AMGAS has been going to as many shows as possible and plans to participate in events in Alberta, Texas, Southern Saskatchewan, Southern Ontario, and the Middle East. “We’re doing a broad sweep on the conference tour this year,” notes Meston.
It remains heavily involved in charitable endeavours. The company regularly takes part in the STARS and SPURS Gala Campaign. The latter is an initiative by Enserva (formerly, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada), to raise funds for a medical air rescue organization that serves rural areas. It also helps local charities in the communities in which it works.
He says staffing is one of the company’s biggest non-COVID-related challenges. The firm has not been immune to the labour crunch impacting industries across North America, as the current workforce ages and not enough young people enter skilled trades to take their place. Market uncertainty is another pressing issue. Oil and gas have become controversial energy options in some quarters, subject to public protests and political opposition. Such a reaction can be anathema for capital markets and project investment, says Martinson.
Nonetheless, he offers an optimistic forecast based on the fact that AMGAS solutions are both environmentally responsible and highly economical.
For the future, he anticipates “growth and expansion,” in terms of “our manpower and product offering… Our solution offering will continue to evolve and grow.”
The company’s ownership structure will likely remain the same, however. AMGAS is currently a family-run business celebrating nearly 35 years innovating the H2S management space. AMGAS sees a traditional “family first” mentality as a foundational core value for the company. This mindset extends beyond the ownership group to the greater “AMGAS family” and is the basis for AMGAS’ HOMESAFE safety program. “Of the many sources of pride that are generated for me from this company, the HOMESAFE program and its commitment to our people and their families has to be number one.”
Meston lists two specific future objectives: “Our goal, over the next few years, is to transition [CLEAR Technology] from what was originally a safety device to more of an integrated solution for our clients, where they benefit and they can get an ROI as well as environmental [benefits],” he says. “In five years, I would love to see us significantly more integrated with initial production companies and be working with the development of oilfields in addition to increasing operations at the plant.”