Apache Fracks with Natural Gas

January 8, 2013 in CNG, Dual Fuel, E&P Operations, LNG by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Cat 3512Cs with Halliburton for LNG, Schlumberger for CNG;
New Plant with OsComp for E&P to Eventually Fuel Trucks Too 

Apache is fracking with natural gas in Oklahoma, working with the global E&P services providers Halliburton and Schlumberger – and with Caterpillar, which stepped up its commercialization schedule to provide its new Dynamic Gas Blending dual fuel upfits for 3512C engines.

initially posted on January 7

History in the Making: a 12-truck Apache frack spread in Oklahoma is expected to be fully LNG-powered by the end of this week.

Field gas is Apache’s target fuel. For now, however, engines for Granite Wash formation hydraulic fracturing operations in the area of Elk City, Okla. are running on compressed natural gas on the Schlumberger side and liquefied natural gas for Halliburton.

“We simplified the program by using CNG and LNG,” says Mike Bahorich, Apache executive VP for technology.

By the end of this week, a full 12-truck spread is to be powered by LNG – an industry first for a production operation, Bahorich told HHP Insight. LNG fuel for the Halliburton-supported site is supplied by Linde.

‘Sea Change’

Schlumberger’s CNG is supplied by Apache via tube trailers in cooperation with Houston-based OsComp Systems. “Today the gas comes straight from CNG fill stations,” says Schlumberger land pressure pumping VP Chad Peterson. “If the project is successful,” he told HHP Insight, “moving towards setting up compressors on a mid-stream line to fill tubes would be the preferred choice.”

Apache-supplied Halliburton graphic shows Q10 pumps equipped with dual fuel systems and connected to an LNG source and vaporizer. Note three upright sand bins ‘€˜in place of mountain movers,’€™ enabling direct sand delivery into the blender utilizing solar power without the need for a gathering conveyor, thereby reducing carbon footprint and in-site power demand. All pumps and the blender are wirelessly controlled from the Tech Command Center, or from a Halliburton remote operations command center (at upper right).

OsComp claims particular expertise in “efficiently compressing wet gas and multiphase steams.”

Both Halliburton and Schlumberger “have the goal of using field gas to power the massive engines used to pump sand and water into the ground to fracture the earth and release hydrocarbons,” Apache says.

CNG for E&P

For the immediate future, however, the answer is commercial gas, and on the CNG side, Apache and OsComp are installing a high-rate CNG station, in Wheeler, Texas near the Oklahoma border east of Amarillo, to more efficiently fill the tube trailers.

The firms want a faster fill rate than is possible at an existing Apache CNG station in Elk City, Okla., explains Apache operation GM Mark Bruchman.

To achieve the target of 20 or even 30 gasoline or diesel gallon equivalents per minute, the team is tapping an 850-psi Enogex transmission pipeline, Bruchman told HHPI. The result will be a CNG station dedicated to supplying the needs of natural gas production. “This will be the first one,” Bruchman says, “the only one dedicated to natural gas infrastructure for E&P.”

Apache plans later to expand the Wheeler facility with fueling for both light and heavy duty natural gas vehicles. “We plan on fueling the tractors that fuel those tube trailers,” Bruchman says. Schlumberger, sources say, is expected to deploy CNG tractors once the new ISX12 G engine from Cummins Westport becomes available later this year.

GFES Turbine Tested on Field Gas

Currently, “only 1% of drilling rigs and zero full frack spreads are powered by natural gas,” Apache says.

That’s about to change. “This is a real trend and it’s happening now,” Bahorich said on the company website on January 3. “We’re witnessing a sea change in the industry that will have a great impact not only on how much less oil is imported but also will help keep our air clean.”

Bahorich says that Apache has successfully tested field gas for a turbine-powered frack pump truck supplied by Green Field Energy Services. GFES frack pump trucks have also been used by Shell.

When 2012 tallies are in, the exploration and production industry will have used more than 700 million gallons of diesel fuel to pump sand and water for fracking, Apache says. “At an average cost of $3.40 per gallon (current U.S. average), that’s $2.38 billion spent on diesel,” states the Apache website report.

“By converting the process to using field gas, fuel costs would be reduced by approximately 70%, or by $1.67 billion.

“By using field gas, the United States would import 17 million fewer barrels of oil each year to make the diesel to fuel these fracs,” Bahorich says.

‘Nothing More Important’

Also according to the Apache report, Halliburton and Schlumberger did the natural gas trials with Apache at zero cost. “That’s almost unheard of, and it shows you how much they wanted to do this,” Bahorich said.

Caterpillar 3512C with Dynamic Gas Blending for natural gas-diesel dual fuel operation

“Caterpillar was able to develop dual-fuel kits that would allow the engines to run on diesel while idling and natural gas when they are throttled up for pumping.”

Potential cost savings by using dual-fuel in a hydraulic fracturing operation are significant, Apache says. A single fracking site in the Granite Wash Stiles Ranch would typically use 36,290 gallons of diesel, states the web report. “Using mid-December prices of $3.40 per gallon for diesel, the total fuel bill would be $123,386. At current gas prices, including transportation, the total fuel cost using dual-fuel engines with gas drops to $74,473.”

Beyond the money? “There’s nothing more important we can do for our country and our environment than move from coal and oil to natural gas,” Bahorich says.

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Source: Apache Corp with HHP Insight follow-up


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