An invention that’s not too much larger than a ping pong ball got its start in the Bakken, and in large part thanks to the Bakken Oil Product and Service Show.

The vortex valve cage insert is now an international success story, and its Canadian inventor, Corbin Coyes, is poised for bigger and better things.

The invention is a valve cage that encases the small metal balls that serve as standing and traveling valves inside a sucker rod pump. Traditionally, these little balls jig and jog around inside the tube, causing small vibrations that can nonetheless damage the pumps and cause them to wear out faster.

Coyes worked out an invention to solve the problem in his garage.

“It was a 15-year process in all,” Coyes said. “I started with different wax molds, and then I did some experiments, until I found the design that worked the best.”

After that, he trialed the idea for two years downhole.

“It worked so well I started to build a commercial business out of it and started to market it,” Coyes said. “I came (to the Bakken Oil Product and Service Show) because some oil companies were having success with it in North Dakota.”

Coyes found that the boots on the ground approach of the conference opened a good backdoor for his product. Oilfield employees would take a few inserts home to their oilfields to test them out.

“Word traveled by itself through the field that this worked,” Coyes said.

Soon, Coyes was running millions of dollars worth of valve cage orders out of his garage. He quickly realized that things could not go on like this. He needed a large distributor to take his business to the next level.

“I couldn’t keep up with the inventory,” he said.

He ultimately sold his business, Tangent Flow, to Q2 ALS, one of the top six artificial lift companies in the world. Q2 made its debut appearance this year at BOPSS — at Coyes’ insistence.

“I do four shows a year, and this is one of the best,” he said. “The key part is operators coming through, looking for new technology, because we can really help them with that.”

Coyes invention, in tests on 100 wells, netted the operator in question roughly $7.3 million more in production over one year. It also worked out to an 8 percent increase in fuel efficiency, for a device that costs about $500 per well.

“This pays off in one month, and operates for five years,” Coyes said.

Not only does the device reduce damage to sucker rod pumps, but with less drag, fuel use is also less.

“If this were on every well, it would save 4.6 million tons of CO2 annually,” Coyes said.

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