Finding, fixing costly leaks gets closer to solution

An electrical engineer from Red Deer has moved $1.1 million closer to changing the way the energy sector monitors hydrocarbon leaks.

An electrical engineer from Red Deer has moved $1.1 million closer to changing the way the energy sector monitors hydrocarbon leaks.

John Hull is president and founder of Hifi Engineering Inc., a Calgary-based company that’s developed fibre-optic technology for underground well monitoring.

This week, it received a $1.1-million infusion from Cenovus Energy Inc., through the Cenovus Environmental Opportunity Fund.

Hull, who grew up in Red Deer and is the son of former city councillor and businessman Bill Hull, is using fibre-optic lines as acoustic sensors to locate leaks in wellbores and other equipment. This type of search can otherwise be difficult and time-consuming.

“We wanted to develop a way to accurately find leaks the first time, and we’re excited that Cenovus believes in this technology as much as we do,” said Hull.

“Leaks affect production, emit greenhouse gases and are expensive to repair,” added Judy Fairburn, executive vice-president of environment and strategic planning with Cenovus.

“Hifi’s technology allows us to fix these leaks quickly and cost-effectively.”

Hull has worked in the energy sector for about a dozen years, starting in Red Deer. He was previously involved in downhole monitoring and studied fibre-optics in university. About four years ago he started Hifi.

The company received a boost from Cenovus in 2009, in the form of $1 million for the development of its fibre-optic technology. Since then, Hifi has been actively researching and testing, with dozens of wells fitted with fibre-optic acoustic sensors.

“That kind of got us going,” said Hull of the initial funding.

The latest money should help Hifi deploy its technology. The plan is to license it to service companies, said Hull.

“We’re open for business now.”

In addition to Cenovus, Hifi’s system has been used by the likes of Shell, Husky and Imperial Oil.

Hifi has other technologies it’s developing, with various patents issued or pending.

These are designed for production logging, pipeline monitoring and other applications.

The Cenovus Environmental Opportunity Fund, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cenovus, makes strategic investments in early-stage technologies that could enhance Cenovus’s oil and gas operations. Its support of Hifi has earned it a stake in his company, confirmed Hull.

“They’re an equity partner now.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan speaks in the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday in this image from his Facebook page.
Red Deer MLA Jason Stephan sounds off on socialism in anti-lockdown speech

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has applauded his government’s COVID-19 response, saying… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) is tackled by Coastal Carolina linebacker Enock Makonzo (43) and safety Cameron Mitchell (49) during the first half of an NCAA football game in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. It's already been a season to remember but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Paul Kieu
Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Atlanta United's Mo Adams, right, challenges Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo during first half MLS soccer action in East Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo says he finished the season with an injured leg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jessica Hill
Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speak to the media during a visit to the Molson Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, January 16, 2020. City councillors in Vancouver voted unanimously this week to ask federal officials for an exemption to Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a decision advocates hope will blaze a trail for the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use in other municipalities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Senator Murray Sinclair appears before the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Sinclair is planning to leave the Senate early next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question from a reporter during a bi-weekly news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Most Read