2023 Executive Outlook

    Ariel Corp. (Ariel) is the world’s largest manufacturer of separable reciprocating gas compressors. Founded in 1966 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the company surpassed 60,000 manufactured units in 2019 (see “From 1 To 60K, Ariel Hits A New Milestone,” August 2019 Gas Compression Magazine, p. 45) and is recognized as a global leader in gas compression.

    Ariel founder, Jim Buchwald, led the company for 32 years (see “History Of An American Success,” May 2017 Gas Compression Magazine, p. 16). His daughter, Karen Buchwald Wright, piloted Ariel for 20 years. In July 2021, Alex Wright was named CEO of Ariel, becoming the third-generation family member to lead the privately held company.

    Gas Compression Magazine sat down with Alex Wright to discuss the gas compression industry, the opportunities and challenges that exist today, and what lies ahead for Ariel.

    In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing the gas compression industry today? What is Ariel doing to meet these challenges?

    I’m tempted to say the uncertain policy and the regulatory environment, but it’s going to take a lot more than just Ariel to fix that. So instead, I will talk about something we can address. The industry continues to struggle with supplying an adequate pipeline of trained talent. We experience that both in our own factories as well as with our compressors in the field. There are a lot of amazingly talented people out there, but all of us in the industry need more of them. That is why Ariel continues to invest very heavily in training and development. We deliver it with our training center in Mt. Vernon, with our mobile training labs at sites around the United States, and through several other training partnerships around the world, based on what works in each region. For example, we’ve pursued trade school partnerships in Australia and Pennsylvania, while in the Middle East, we have a shipping container full of our training equipment that can be deployed at distributor or customer facilities. And of course, our regional teams work frequently with customers to conduct custom training in place like China and across South America.

    Market strength varies by location. In your opinion, which geographic locations (globally) hold the most promise for the gas compression industry? Why?

    Several basins in the United States are displaying strength right now, particularly the Permian. We expect a lot of growth in the whole system linking the Permian to the Gulf Coast as liquefied natural gas [LNG] facilities come online. Looking further afield, we see real growth opportunities in Western Canada, the Middle East, and Argentina. LNG has given Canadian gas a new route to market, and Canadian producers have significant LNG commitments that will require production growth. The Middle East has been an excellent market for us in recent years, and we see increasing demand for wellhead, enhanced oil recovery, and gathering compression there. Argentina has a number of favorable dynamics – good geology, new pipelines to support production growth plans, and a very mature fleet of compression that will require upgrade or replacement.

    What market indicators do you follow/track to forecast the short-term and long-term health of the gas compression industry?

    We utilize a wide variety of metrics, indexes, and third-party forecasts, some of which are pretty complex. But to be honest, nothing corelates to our business level better than … Click here to continue reading this article in the June 2023 issue of Gas Compression Magazine.

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