The Economic Development Pulse Second Quarter 2016 - Page 6

Known as forensic pathologists of the metal world, Permian Basin MetalLab is one of Odessa’s best kept secrets. With limited advertising, PBML operates solely by word of mouth. The unique lab provides a range of services including failure analysis by occurrence, prototype testing, third party quality control verification testing and litigation support. Contrary to what most local businesses have experienced in the past year, PBML has seen a tremendous increase in activity which is something that Joe Edwards, owner, believes is due to the subsiding willingness of oil and gas businesses to compensate costly equipment failures in a downturn.

Founded in 1993, Joe Hensley opened Permian Basin Metallurgical Laboratories in response to the numerous metal failures he witnessed while working for a corporate oil and gas company. Hensley was once quoted in a newspaper article, “We are to metal, what a pathologist is to your body. We can take any piece of metal, run it through a series of tests and eventually tell you its complete history.”

With a Master’s in Physical Chemistry, Edwards spent the majority of his career employed by Champion Technologies (now known as Nalco Champion, an Ecolab Company). Edwards worked in research and quality control, and technical services where he was able to see failures of various equipment first hand. He also served as Chairman of the Permian Basin Chapter of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), an organization dedicated to protecting people, assets and the environment from corrosion, from 2007 to 2009. After 31 years at Champion, Edwards decided to retire, but quickly realized that staying home was not right for him. He started working with Hensley and Bill Mock, purchased the business in 2011 and shortened the business name to Permian Basin MetalLab.

Industry

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Permian Basin MetalLab

Q & A with Joe Edwards

Owner

1. How many metallurgical labs are in the Permian Basin, and what exactly is metallurgy?

Permian Basin MetalLab is the only metallurgical lab in the area and the nearest labs to Odessa are located in the larger metro areas as far as Dallas and Houston.

Metallurgy is the study of the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds and their mixtures. Whenever there is a failure in products or equipment used in the oil and gas industry, our lab analyzes the equipment’s metal materials by performing a series of tests to ultimately determine the cause of the failure and then recommend a solution to the problem. The reliability of equipment is important for companies.

2. What are the most common types of failures that your lab sees?

Two of the most common failures are caused by corrosion or mechanical issues. Corrosion can be induced by a variety of factors. In drilling, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that is released during production can weaken or crack holes over time in drilling pipe causing decreases in production and costly repairs and damages that range in the millions of dollars.

Vertical Load Machine