Powering the changing landscape of shale gas
D. Dickert, Aggreko, Houston, Texas
Natural gas is one of the most abundant resources to come out of the horizontal drilling revolution in unconventional plays. Yet, its value as an economical onsite fuel and the benefits it serves in various liquid forms (i.e., LNG, NGL) as an additive in crude oil are only just being realized.
Without the proper infrastructure in place to capture and clean stranded natural gas found at the wellsite for commercial use, operators have few solutions to capitalize on this valuable resource. As a result, flaring has erupted as a potentially harmful environmental practice.
To take advantage of shale gas, operators must first understand the opportunities and challenges of leveraging it as a power source. With the forecast price of natural gas at under $4/MMBtu for 2015, gas is an attractive fueling option when compared to more expensive diesel fuel.
As operators realize the value of natural gas to power their operations, many are looking to temporary power solutions, such as gas generators or dual-fuel generators, to reduce operational costs and capital expenditures, to lower emission levels and to keep production uptime at its maximum.
Well gas as a power source. Depending on the shale formation, natural gas comes in many different forms, with varying levels of methane, butane, propane, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and water. Some gas streams may be lean enough to run in generators straight from the wellhead, whereas richer gases carrying high levels of propane, butane, pentane or hexane must be cleaned to achieve a high enough methane content to run effectively in gas generators.