Cogeneration and on-site power technology is usually applied to buildings and industrial sites, but petroleum production sites – both oil and gas – also need on-site energy and sometimes supply their own fuels in neat, waste-as-fuel arrangements. Three recent contract announcements, from both conventional and unconventional sites around the world, illustrate the point.
First, Capstone Turbine Corporation is to supply microturbines – with a generating capacity of 5.2 MW, initially – to be installed at oil production sites in the Middle East and Africa. The microturbines will burn otherwise wasted ‘associated’ gases to provide on-site electrical power for the production operation. Associated natural gas is often brought to the surface alongside crude oil and, at remote drilling sites where no pipeline infrastructure exists, this gas is often burnt, or flared. However, oil companies are working to end gas flaring and using the gas to generate power for use on-site delivers clear economic and environmental benefits.
Second, and in the unconventional gas world, GE’s Distributed Power business and China’s drill rig manufacturer HongHua Group have signed an agreement for GE to supply Waukesha gas engines to power drill rigs used in new shale gas projects in China. The engines will be fuelled either with on-site ‘field gas’ or commercial grade gas to generate up to 3 MW of on-site power, enabling rig operators to optimize the availability of the rigs.
Drill rigs typically use diesel engines for power, but the Waukesha gas-powered engines will be able to run on almost any gaseous fuel, adds GE, including hot field gases. The substitution of cleaner-burning gas-fuelled engines for diesel will both cut fuel costs and reduce emissions of various pollutant gases at the shale sites.
GE Distributed Power is also supplying conventional petroleum production sites. The latest contract is to supply four aeroderivative gas turbine generators to supply 85 MW of on-site electricity generating capacity for a new floating oil and gas production and storage vessel to be deployed off the coast of Brazil. To be fuelled with field gas produced at the vessel, the four new units will generate power to support the facility’s production processes, water reinjection, gas compression and process heating. GE has supplied gas turbines for similar uses in Africa previously.
As with oil refineries, where cogeneration installations tend to be fuelled with free ‘waste’ gases, oil and gas production facilities can both supply the fuel for on-site energy supplies and significant energy loads to make it worthwhile to tap them.