The American Business Conferences event, Powering onshore oil and gas facilities, held earlier this year in Houston, was an opportunity to learn about the complex nature of the task and the wide range of options available.
Southwestern Energy’s Don Sevier presented the results of various trials of natural gas powered fuel cells. Sevier observed that using pressurized natural gas to power oilfield instrumentation is wasteful. Also the EPA is tightening regulations regarding venting such instrument gas to the atmosphere. Better options include using the gas to generate electricity through a fuel cell or a thermo-electric generator. These, along with solar packages, have all be trialed and are applicable in different circumstances.
ConocoPhillips’ Rob Dwyer showed how solar power can be combined with thermal electric generators acting as base load for when the sun doesn’t shine. Such systems are used to trickle charge batteries overnight but also to ensure that their charge/discharge cycles are optimized and battery life is maximized. Battery failure and the resulting opex costs are a major drawback for solar but they can be mitigated with these hybrid systems.
Jason Niven (Sandridge Energy) has developed a sophisticated software monitoring and control system to manage its 1150 mile network of power lines and seven substations. The system is particularly useful in managing outage response. Weather generated outages can be widespread and may lead to information overload if alarming is not properly filtered. The in-house developed substation control ACSELerator system includes an interactive GIS map and scada tools for overview, troubleshooting and operations. The system captures data from wellsite power meters and artificial lift run status. Links exist to weather radar including lightning strikes and other systems such as Maximo and Cygnet.
A presentation by Aggreko’s Tony Walluk demonstrated better economics from a large scale 5 MW central gas-fired power plant as opposed to per-site generation. The system also gave a better return than taking the gas to market.
Jon Hesse presented Zrho’s field gas conditioning system, used to bring produced gas up to spec for generation. Zrho’s 1500CMT unit uses catalytic reformation to produce a consistent methane stream. Each unit offsets around 1500 tonnes of carbon annually compared with diesel-based generation. More from ABC.
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