Two engine technologies are helping oil and gas producers save money - and improve the environment.
Both dual fuel and dedicated natural gas engines have been around for years. But increased global concern about emissions and associated gas flaring, as well as the acknowledgment that natural gas is both abundant and less expensive than diesel, have renewed interest in the technologies.
Starting in 2012, the Russian government will require oil companies to capture up to 95 percent of the natural gases associated with petroleum extraction - fuel that is now emitted into the atmosphere via gas flaring. While there is an environmental cost to flaring, there is a financial loss as well: In Nigeria, as much as 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas is flared each day, which amounts to an estimated yearly loss of $2.5 billion (U.S.).
The dual fuel and dedicated natural gas technologies can harness that associated gas for energy, greatly reducing the need for flaring. The use of the flare gas also reduces the need for diesel fuel, saving operating costs. But both technologies have strengths and potential drawbacks:
• A dedicated natural gas engine offers more fuel cost savings and a cleaner emissions footprint than either diesel or dual fuel designs. But supplying the natural gas can sometimes be a challenge and gas-burning engines are slower to respond to transient loads.
• Dual fuel engines also have a proven track record of fuel cost savings and lower emissions. Most can tolerate use of associated gas and offer the flexibility of switching between diesel and natural gas depending on need. Again, fuel supply can be an issue, as can the fact that the natural gas needs to be of a specific quality to assure best operation.
Caterpillar is planning to release a comprehensive dual fuel solution for land drilling and land production applications in late 2012. The new product will operate on relatively low-quality field gas and continually optimize diesel and gas combustion efficiency in harsh oil and gas environments.
What concerns do you have about dual fuel engines? Is natural gas readily available in your application? How important are fuel cost concerns in your decision-making process? What innovations have you adopted to reach environmental goals?
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.