Some businesses see themselves simply as suppliers of products or services, while others, like Archrock, are strategic partners. Working with customers every step of the way to improve productivity, Houston-based Archrock remains a powerhouse provider of natural gas contract compression services in the U.S.
Approaching 70 years in business, Archrock is distinctive for its fleet of natural gas compression equipment, certified technicians, unparalleled customer service, safety culture, and forward-thinking sustainability initiatives. Along with long-time partnerships with original equipment manufacturers and distributors, Archrock lives by its motto, “Our Time Is Your Uptime®.”
Since its founding in 1954, Archrock has remained committed to providing its customers with the best natural gas compression services possible. Conducting itself with professionalism, honesty, and integrity, Archrock has grown to become America’s compression services leader, operating the largest fleet in the nation, consisting of more than three and a half million horsepower. “Moving gas is what we know,” states the company. “And as the leader in natural gas compression, it’s what we do best.”
Among the company’s many advantages are its decades of firsthand experience, says Eric W. Thode, Senior Vice President, Operations. Part of a dedicated leadership team, Thode’s experience with Archrock goes back to 2004. Serving in different commercial and operations roles, he was promoted to his current position in 2018. “Virtually all our competitors—especially our primary competitors in the industry—have all started since the year 2000,” says Thode. “No company has the decades of experience we have in the industry, and we have relationships with top customers that extend more than 20 years.”
As a compression services company, the bulk of Archrock’s more than 1,000 employees are operations-based, with over 700 of them in Thode’s organizational chart. From field service technicians skilled at working on engines and compressors on location, to shop mechanics getting units back into operations for customers, to supply chain and administrative staff, Archrock’s team can handle any challenges that may arise.
With a customer base that is the who’s who of the oil and gas space, Archrock works with the largest producers and midstream companies in America. As the leading provider of natural gas compression services in the oil and natural gas sector, Archrock focuses on the midstream segment of the market, with its large horsepower compressor stations primarily supporting natural gas gathering operations. Forming partnerships with leading manufacturers like CAT, Ariel, and Waukesha, Archrock serves customers across all major oil and gas plays in the U.S.
Respecting the environment
A good deal of oil and gas service companies talk about sustainable practices and respect for the environment, but Archrock puts those words into action. A great believer in giving back, the company is also investing in helping its customers reduce their environmental footprint.
In March, Archrock published its 2022 Sustainability Report, which detailed its ongoing commitment to the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. At the time of its release, President and Chief Executive Officer Brad Childers stated: “This sustainability report reflects our commitment to aligning our corporate strategy with our purpose to power a cleaner America. This includes maintaining robust governance practices and integrating quantifiable ESG goals into our compensation plans, connecting our employees’ actions to our pursuit of a sustainable future. As the leader in U.S. natural gas compression, we remain dedicated to our critical role in transporting affordable and cleaner energy for the benefit of America and the world, and to continue doing so in a safe and environmentally responsible way.”
Some of the highlights in the 45-page report include Archrock achieving “a 12 percent year-over-year reduction in 2021 Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions intensity,” investment in electric drive compression horsepower, developing a unique patent-pending methane capture technology, and securing minority investment in a methane-emissions monitoring company.
“For years, we’ve been doing the essentials, like recycling and things of that nature,” says Thode, “but an area where we can have a big impact is in electric motor drive packages.” Focusing on large horsepower compressors between 400 hp up to 5,500 hp electric motor drive packages, Archrock keeps adding to its fleet to keep up with customer demand.
In April of 2022, to further its commitment to sustainability, Archrock acquired a minority equity stake in ECOTEC International Holdings LLC (ECOTEC), a worldwide leader in methane notification, identification, and qualification (NIQ). The move will enable ECOTEC to get its products into the oil and gas arena. “They are the only company that has all three aspects of the NIQ,” states Thode. “A lot of companies are into notification, and some are into identification, but no one has a suite of products that deals with notification when there is an issue, identification of the issue, and then the ability to quantify how large the issue is.”
Archrock is investigating how to take methane leaks and put them back into the gas stream. The result is a patent-pending product—known as the Methane Mitigation Skid—that gathers up certain operational losses of methane and re-injects them back into the stream of gases being compressed. Customers can then sell the captured gas that would have otherwise been released into the environment, thereby realizing dual benefits. Additionally, Archrock is looking into CO2 capture and sequestration.
Closer to home, the company is focused on other ways to preserve the environment. This includes reducing the amount of driving its fleet of vehicles through telematics. A combination of telecommunications and informatics, telematics technology gathers real-time data and uses GPS. Through telematics, Archrock can send the nearest vehicle to customer sites being provided compression services by the company, reducing drive time and saving gas. And through telematics on compression units, the Archrock team monitors pressure, temperature, and more, and can react immediately if there are any issues.
A strong team
In 2022, Archrock was named one of Houston’s Leading Companies in the Houston Chronicle 100, with good reason. Fostering a company culture of respect and work-life balance, Archrock believes in the “whole employee experience.” This includes Friday work from home days at the Houston office and various bonus programs.
In support of the broader community, Archrock’s charitable initiatives include the Houston Food Bank, Toys for Tots, and employees maintaining a two-mile, highly trafficked stretch of a Farm to Market road near its headquarters through Texas’ Adopt-a-Highway program. “The family atmosphere and camaraderie that both garners participation in these charitable endeavors and that is exhibited during them means a lot,” comments Thode. “We always focus on our employees. Great ideas, including each of those employee-sourced charitable opportunities, percolate up from our employee base rather than originating or being mandated from on-high. At Archrock, opinions and ideas count and great ideas are put into action. Archrock employees recognize that and appreciate being a big part in moving the company forward.”
To help start all new field-based employees off on the right foot, Archrock provides a two-week orientation and technical training program before stepping into the field. All aspects of this training are infused with the Archrock safety culture and its Target Zero safety program. A source of pride for Thode, he tells each NAFO (North American Field Orientation) class that the only thing keeping him up at night is making sure that every employee goes home exactly the same way they arrived in the morning.
“Safety is more than a slogan or something we paint on a wall, talk about at a meeting, or put into an annual report,” he says. “I don’t want an employee to even [need to] get a Band-Aid; our Target Zero program is going to make sure we have the policies, procedures, and personal protective equipment (PPE) in place focused on keeping people safe. This includes staff, customers, customer locations, our equipment, our customers’ equipment—I want everything protected every day.”
Not content to rest on its soon-to-be 70-year history, Archrock’s executive team continues to build a resilient business to ensure the company’s success in the years to come. This includes further embedding sustainability in the company’s corporate strategy and everything it does.
For customers, Archrock will continue adding electric motor drives to its fleet and evaluating ways to capture and sequester carbon and mitigate methane leaks.
“You can retrofit your current fleet to meet those needs, or you can continue to move into the electric motor drive direction,” explains Thode. “We’re currently exploring parallel paths, because you don’t just replace a billion-plus dollars’ worth of equipment overnight, so that has to be a gradual transition.”
Along with adding additional products and services to its existing contract compression and aftermarket service business, Archrock plans to keep building its team. “We are confident we are the most experienced, most financially sound compression services company in the business, and we intend to continue to build on that.”