50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2018

Partnering in your Success: Assured Flow Solutions, a Hybrid Laboratory Testing and Engineering Firm, Continues to Lead from the Front


We provide oil and gas companies with world-class engineering solutions that are grounded in theoretical science and guided by practical application: Andrew Yule

Operators in the oil and gas industry today are being asked to do more than ever before while being given less time to do it. Combining that with a new lost cost environment, this has placed a strain on company resources worldwide in the industry. One of the major challenges today is optimizing systems for production, while keeping safety as the highest priority.

In light of the above mentioned, we are thrilled to present Assured Flow Solutions (AFS) – a specialist engineering consultancy focusing on the upstream and midstream oil and gas industry. AFS consultants are experts in the multi-disciplinary flow assurance arena. Flow assurance, with links spanning from sub-surface drilling through pipelines and facilities, is a complex science that requires a grasp of both fundamentals and real-world applicability.

AFS’ unique combination of laboratory testing, engineering, and technology allows for a single provider for all flow assurance analysis needs. Now, with the low cost downturn in the industry,the company has helped operators to ‘Think Beyond the Drill Bit’ and to focus on designing and operating systems as efficiently and safely as possible.

AFS is headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas.

Interview Excerpt: Andrew Yule,Technology Manager

Rewind: Getting off the Ground

Assured Flow Solutions (AFS) began in 2011 to provide oil and gas companies with world-class engineering solutions that are grounded in theoretical science and guided by practical application. Within the industry, AFS focuses specifically on ‘flow assurance’, a field that aims to guarantee the safe production and transport of hydrocarbons from reservoir to surface and beyond, sometimes over thousands of miles. The field of flow assurance encompasses many seemingly disparate areas of practice, from chemistry to engineering, and from data management to application deployment. AFS employs a diverse range of engineers and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to address all aspects of such a complicated specialty.

“The propane you will use to fire up the grill at your next backyard barbecue may seem trivial, but anybody familiar with the industry can tell you just how much time and effort it takes to find, harvest, and refine those precious hydrocarbons.” Extraction is often complicated by harsh climatological and geopolitical challenges, and the market itself is equally hostile, with oil and gas prices swinging by as much as 50 percent in just a few years’ time. To thrive in the industry requires incredibly complex problem solving on a daily basis. “One company playing an active role in helping operators do just that while balancing technical, commercial, regulatory, and environmental requirements is Assured Flow Solutions.”

Approaches to Innovation: In Full Swing

At its core, AFS houses three closely connected (and frequently overlapping) business divisions: engineering, laboratory, and technology. Together, they give AFS the ability to conduct in-depth laboratory testing and reporting, complex modeling and visualization, and create pragmatic, outcome-oriented solutions—all under one roof. In other words: Measure. Model. Solve.

AFS first started with a specialization in engineering, with rigorous computer modeling and simulation of oil and gas transportation networks at its heart. But as any engineer in the field will tell you, real-world results seldom match theoretical models. In 2015, AFS added its own state-of-the-art production chemistry laboratory—one of the largest in the world—to better connect theory with application. And in 2017, following one of the largest downturns the oil and gas industry has ever seen, AFS added an in-house technology team to help operators make sense of their data through advanced visualization and custom application development. AFS turns ‘Big Data’ into useful data.

In the seven years since opening the doors, the company has grown to deliver solutions to clients and challenges around the globe. AFS has been named not only one of Houston’s Fastest Growing companies (Houston Business Journal FAST 100), but is also a two-time Inc. 5000 award winner. Today, AFS continues to be privately owned with offices in Houston, Dallas, Denver, and London—all of which maintain a focus on leading-edge technology development. As they look to the future, AFS is uniquely positioned to offer services to an ever-changing energy industry. Their ability to anticipate new needs and develop new offerings to meet them,will continue to keep AFS at the forefront of the industry for years to come.

The X Factor: Maintaining Clients’ Trust

Oil and gas companies worldwide have turned to AFS for more than just flow assurance support. They have engaged AFS to assist in their project delivery and integration of flow assurance issues into their total system design. AFS’s combined 20+ years of focused deepwater and multiphase flow experience has helped enable them to solve problems in a timely and practical manner, taking the best from both academic and operating experience. “We recognize that flow assurance is an important piece of a larger puzzle, working with multiple disciplines to integrate the solution within the whole system.”

Raising the bar: Sky’s the Limit

As the nature of flow assurance challenges grows, from offshore production in deeper water and harsher environments, to onshore production through multiphase rich gas trunklines, the added complexity facing operators grows. Decisions related to flow assurance issues reverberate through multiple disciplines, creating a challenging matrix of decision points. AFS prides itself on helping operators navigate through these difficult decisions.

Operator’s needs – The AFS executive management team has worked as flow assurance leads within many of the major operators. This lends itself to a unique perspective within the engineering community to be able to clearly understand operators’ needs as it relates to their projects.

Fluid properties – AFS believes that understanding the fluid properties, not only the measured values but also the uncertainty associated with these, is the key to successful application of any further flow assurance design principles. In many cases, multi-billion dollar projects are based on less than a 1L bottle of fluids, designed to represent these vast resources over their lifetime. Their staff has a background in fundamental chemistry and fluid testing, working within the chemical applications industry to carry out many of the tests that serve as common recommendations during engineering. AFS can best apply the science and marry it with the field-proven reality.

Simulation models – AFS understands what state-of-the-industry simulation models can provide, as well as strengths/weaknesses of the application to field conditions. Managing uncertainty in system design requires not simply strong analytical tools, but also correct application of those tools. AFS staff is well-versed in the available industry tools and their application.

Technology – In today’s world, only those companies that embrace technology and stay on top of the latest advancements are able to survive. This is something AFS understands and is fully committed to. Their recently formed technology team is able to apply the latest tools for analysis and solution deployment to help operators make the most of the assets they develop.

The Brains Behind The Operation: A Brief Background

Tony Spratt, Co-founder/Managing Partner: Dr Tony Spratt, PhD has over 10 years of experience specifically focused on deepwater production, with specialist expertise in the areas of project management, transient simulations, systems integration, and production chemistry. Dr Spratt’s career has spanned a range of engagements within the oil/gas community, ranging from chemical supplier (Nalco/Multi-Chem), engineering contractor (Foster Wheeler), and operator (Chevron). The breadth of Dr Spratt’s experience allows him to offer a unique perspective that spans from the laboratory to design to field application. This allows him to keenly understand the needs of various disciplines in delivering a total system solution.

Dr Spratt graduated magna cum laude from Midwestern State University with a degree in chemistry, before obtaining his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Arizona.

Tommy Golczynski, Co-founder/Managing Partner: Tommy Golczynski’s career started in downstream olefin and refinery design before joining Multiphase Solutions, Inc. (MSi, now MSi Kenny) where he ascended to Vice-President, Consulting Services. In twelve years at MSi Kenny, MrGolczynski managed the global operations of the consulting division and was actively engaged in technical projects and literature publications throughout his tenure. Mr. Golczynski was named Houston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”, as well as several other industry honors. By utilizing the state-of-the-industry tools, serving on joint-industry project (JIP) committees, and working on some of the largest projects across the world, he brings a global perspective to best practices/lessons learned on each project engagement.

Mr Golczynski graduated magna cum laude with a degree in chemical engineering from University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), where he currently serves on the Chemical Engineering department’s alumni advisory board.

“Our mission is to provide practical, world-class engineering for the oil and gas industry through applied lessons across production, academic, and chemical communities.”