06 Jan 2021

Utilizing onsite wet gas to power production

Onshore gas pump

How do you power a production site with wet gas before the grid arrives?

When a high-production facility needs to run 24 hours a day and 7 days week, through the whole year, there is no room for downtime. But what about when there is no utility power available?

Aggreko was called in the Williston Basin, North Dakota, to provide reliable power to a non-stop oil and gas production site. We used the very wet gas produced onsite to generate over 1 MW of power for a very large electrical pad. But we go beyond the rental: one of the Motor Control Centers had a harmonic issue. Our engineers and technicians worked closely with the site operators to identify, quantify and isolate the issue with a permanent resolution. 

As a result, the engineering team designed a system that provided 100% redundancy and 100% uptime guarantee along with 20% reduced flaring with eight 170 kW natural gas generators for over the past 18 months. 

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#teamAggreko provided over 1MW with 100% redundancy and uptime using #naturalgas

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Natural Gas – a cleaner and cheaper solution

More and more companies are using natural gas generators. Not only is it a cleaner burning fuel than gasoline or diesel, with lower exhaust emissions, but natural gas also keeps getting cheaper. Aggreko uses “Lean Burn” technology to squeeze more power and efficiency from generators, which can result in up to 40% fuel savings (when compared to diesel). 

In their push to optimize field operations, companies continually look for new ways to boost long-term production, while keeping costs down and minimizing negative impact to the environment. In-field power generation is one area receiving particular attention in this regard. 

While diesel fuel has reliably powered equipment for decades, the cost and emission concerns of diesel make it a far-from-optimal choice. Natural gas-powered engines and generators are growing in acceptance as a viable and cost-effective alternative to diesel, particularly when a reliable supply of natural gas is available. In the oil and gas industry, for instance, even in tight oil plays, most wells produce some amount of associated natural gas that could be used to power in-field generators, pumps and other equipment.

Among the benefits that natural gas fueled generator systems provide over conventional diesel systems is their economic advantage in the long term. While natural gas units carry larger upfront capital expenses, they have been shown to cost 40-45 percent less to operate than diesel units, primarily because of the fuel savings. These units also generally exhibit longer run times between service intervals compared with their diesel counterparts, thereby maximizing field uptime. 

Moreover, natural gas-powered units also provide the option to use field-proven lean-burn technology to meet the most demanding emissions guidelines at both federal and state levels, or rich-burn technology that can handle high-Btu gas that would otherwise be flared or left stranded. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that natural gas produces 85 percent fewer emissions than diesel, and has a 25 percent lower carbon footprint.

For operators to take full advantage of the benefits of natural gas-fired power generation, they must develop a power management strategy that is flexible and scalable to meet the needs of each stage of field development. Such a strategy can be developed best by partnering with a natural gas power generation provider over the long term.

The best approach is one where the power generation and distribution equipment provider works in consultative collaboration with the producer. The power provider is involved early on to both understand the operator’s field development plans and to offer the best around-the clock power management solutions that will grow or decrease while demand changes.