CASPER, Wyo. — Moser Energy Systems on Wednesday announced a partnership with BP Capital, the energy hedge fund headed by Texas wildcatter T. Boone Pickens, in a bid to become the nation's largest manufacturer of natural-gas-fired engines used by oil field drilling rigs.
The partnership will create a third company, Mesa Natural Gas Solutions, under which Moser will make the engines while BP Capital promotes them.
The business alliance also marked a dramatic transformation for Moser, a family-run firm founded in 1973, from a regional oil field services supplier to a national one.
"When you take the people who have the experience in the oil and gas industry, not in America, but worldwide, combine that with a great product, we can now get into basins more quickly than (we could) without those relationships," said Moser VP Jakob Norman.
Pickens joined Norman and other Moser executives in announcing the partnership at a lunchtime celebration at the Evansville company's new 35,000 square foot building.
Pickens, a Texas millionaire whose flamboyant personality and outspoken political views have made him something of a celebrity in recent years, delivered a short speech to a crowd of Moser employees, family and friends.
He touched on the "strangeness" of Washington D.C., saying there was a lack of leadership in the nation's capital, and on his campaign to reduce American reliance on oil produced by OPEC nations, which he termed a national security threat.
He painted Moser as a cure to both ailments, saying the Casper company was providing leadership in driving the country's energy production forward.
"For Casper to have this here, what an asset," Pickens said.
In an interview, Pickens touted Moser's growth potential, saying 95 percent of drilling rigs today are powered by diesel engines. Moser aims to reduce diesel's market share with its own natural-gas-fired machines.
"It is cheaper (and) cleaner, and it's domestic," Pickens said.
Moser has grown rapidly in recent years, mirroring the growth in American energy production. The Casper company's engines convert raw natural gas released at oil well drilling sites into energy, helping to power drilling rigs in remote locations where power lines do not exist.
Norman said the company's machines saved 45,000 truck trips to drilling rigs in 2013. The emissions reduction was the equivalent of taking 15,000 commuter cars off the road.
In 2013, the company built 450 units, Norman said, noting that figure represented a 400 percent increase in Moser's output. The firm's payroll has more than doubled in the past 18 months, from 26 employees to over 60.
The company today ships much of its products to North Dakota and Texas, the two states driving America's energy resurgence, as well as to oil-producing countries like Ecuador, Venezuela and Oman.
Norman said Moser hopes to ship its machines to as many countries as possible and become the biggest supplier of natural-gas-fired engines.
The company recently completed a $5 million expansion, moving out of the 8,000-square-foot building that had been its home since its founding. The move will result in a corresponding increase in capacity, increasing the firm's annual output from around 400 machines to 14,000.
The company has a goal of building 1,000 engines this year, but production will ultimately reflect demand, Norman said.