PennEnergy Exclusive: Family business helps reduce carbon footprint, whilst bringing safety, quality and efficiency to the world’s oil and gas pipelines

In the age of “dirty oil,” environmental protests, government regulation and mandates in the oil and gas industry, any operation that strives to make the processes safer and cleaner becomes a definite winner.

In the age of “dirty oil,” environmental protests, government regulation and mandates in the oil and gas industry, any operation that strives to make the processes safer and cleaner becomes a definite winner.

According to Renewable Energy World, U.S. based oil and gas companies invested $9 billion in renewable technologies such as wind, solar, biofuels, from 2000-2010, and that number has compounded over the years since. It’s not just renewables that make for safer and cleaner energy production and delivery, but also fuel reduction and efficient operations.

CDI Helps Reduce Carbon Footprint, Provide Safety and Efficiency for Pipeline Operations

According to a study by TechSci Research, the global oil and gas pipeline leak detection industry is expected to surpass $1.8 billion in the next five years. This is in part due to the increase in oil and gas leaks over the past few years.

CDI is a family owned and operated business located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and has been proudly designing, manufacturing, renting and selling electronics products for more than 30 years. In the most recent years, CDI has branched into other aspects of the market with great success, manufacturing permanent installation pig passage detectors, subsea tracking and passage detection, time-based benchmarking, magnetic through-wall communications and a huge variety of standard and custom designed magnetic transmitters.

“When a pipeline leak is suspected, one option is to dig up the pipeline and inspect it from the outside, which is very costly,” said Jason Farque, vice president of research and development at CDI. “The best and most economically sound solution would be to pig the pipeline using smart pig technology.”

Smart pigs are large pieces of machinery that move through a pipeline to monitor for leaks, corrosion and other anomalies. The smart pig inspection tools provide data on the condition of the pipelines, which help pipeline operators gauge the health and integrity of the pipes. Pigging is the major component to pipeline safety and accident prevention.

Pipeline pigging devices can also be used to clean a pipeline, which contributes to the efficiency of the pipeline, which in turn lowers the pipeline’s energy consumption and carbon footprint. Gigantic compressors help to compress and propel the product down the pipeline (be it liquid or gas). These compressors use fuel and their fuel consumption goes up when the inside of a pipeline is dirty.

In a time where environmental protection is of great global concern, smart pigs and tools like it are the friendship ring in the delicate relationship between oil and gas operations and Mother Earth (and the regulators).


Kinder Morgan Pipeline Integrity Program


Why are they called pigs?

“There are various theories on this,” said Eric Farque, vice president of sales. “The most popular of which says that pigs often make a squealing sound when traveling through the pipelines, and were thus called pigs.”

CDI is there to make sure those pigging devices don’t get lost. A lost pig could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost production time, repairs and a gigantic headache and panic.

All of CDI's tracking and signaling products are designed and built completely in-house and to custom specifications. These capabilities allow CDI to ensure that customers' needs are met for extremely high quality and robust products delivered on time.


Traxall 770 - CDI's Advanced Pig Tracking System


“Unfortunately, not all operators pig their lines,” Farque remarked. “In fact, it’s a minority of them. However, pigging helps to keep pipelines clean and more efficient. Like your heart working less when your arteries aren’t clogged, it’s good to pig lines to keep their efficiencies high.”

Do all the pigs in pipelines get tracked?

“No, not all pigs get tracked. Again, it’s a minority. What the percentage is probably no one knows, but I’d guess that it’s quite low,” Farque responded. “Tracking is unfortunately seen as an unnecessary inconvenience and expense when pigs pass through a line without issue.

“However, given the high cost of pipeline operations and the high cost of potential pigging failures (i.e. lost pigs), I believe that pig tracking is an easily justifiable cost when it is amortized over multiple jobs.”

Was CDI the first to track pigs?

“No, the first tracking was done simply by attaching a length of chain to a pig, placing your ear against a pipeline and listening for the pig. The first electronic devices were invented in the late 60s and early 70s in Germany,” Farque explained.

Humble Beginnings

CDI's founder, a quiet, thoughtful man, Tony Farque, has a lifetime of experience in electronics design, specializing in analog circuitry and magnetics. After decades of freelance electronics design in a wide variety of fields, Tony and his family decided to apply their efforts to the industry of pipeline pig location and tracking, which they felt would benefit from higher technology.

While Tony designed and built the products, his wife Verne took care of the money and business side of things, whilst their two boys, Jason and Eric, handled sales and marketing.


Tony and Verne Farque


Verne, a wry, firecracker of a force, remarked, “I have always been there to make sure the guys didn’t run the company into the ground.”

Much of the oil and gas world didn’t know much about pipeline pig tracking in the 90s when Jason and Eric set off to sell the product.

It was 1993, and the Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference (now in its 27th year) was taking place down in Houston. The show caught the Farque's attention, but booth space rental was way out of their price range. They could, however, afford to each buy a pass for the exhibit hall, and so they loaded up their tracking devices, a supply of business cards, and off they went for the hard sale.

“We touted ease of use, computerization and, what were then, newfangled computerized features,” Jason Farque said.

They purposefully meandered around the exhibit floor, making contacts, and when the time was right they went in for the sale by inviting company decision makers back to their hotel room for a demonstration of their newly-designed equipment.

“A risky sales tactic, but it worked remarkably well,” Eric Farque remembered. “We talked to about 20 people from companies like T.D. Williamson, and ended up making a few sales.”

They went back to Tulsa, built the orders, and before the end of the year they had interest from all over the world. While CDI had intended to start as a regional company and work their way into the international market, much to their surprise their very first tracking equipment sale was international. Success prompted them to learn fast.

“Our tracking devices are used all over the world, on every continent. If there is a major pipeline, you can bet that there is a CDI product in the area,” said Hal Swaringim, sales manager.


Awarded by Governor Mary Fallin for Excellence in Exporting in April 2015. From left to right: Michelle Greer, Eric Farque, Jason Farque, Hal Swaringim


CDI has grown by leaps and bounds from those humble beginnings into a humming manufacturing facility of 42,000 sq/ft and 45 employees.

“CDI is proudly a family run business in its second generation,” Jason explained. “We care a lot about our employees. They are like family.”

The company has a chef who prepares lunch for the entire staff every day. Holiday meals are prepared for the staff and families and the family vibe permeates throughout the company.

“The employees care just as much about CDI as the Farque family does,” said Michelle Greer, Sales & Marketing Coordinator.  “CDI is a great place to be, with opportunities to grow professionally, building skills and experience.”

CDI experienced a 30% growth each year since 1994. As the oil and gas industry plummeted over the past year, CDI has seen only a 20% drop in business. “We’re in the midstream transportation business. The oil has to move even at a lower price. Our equipment is a form of insurance,” Jason remarked.

“Pig tracking is an often overlooked aspect of the critical pigging process. Pigs and pipelines alike would benefit from giving more thought to tracking out the outset of a project,” Jason continued.

So, if you are in the market to increase efficiency, promote safety and enhance your pipeline pigging projects, look no further than CDI. They’ll get the job done, and treat you like family in the process.

CDI is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company and member of the Pigging Products and Services Association. UL/CSA, ATEX and IECEX certified, CDI has pigging equipment appropriate for any area of the world whether it be onshore, offshore or subsea. Awarded by Governor Mary Fallin for Excellence in Exporting in April 2015, CDI’s equipment is used globally by the largest of oil and gas companies.

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