Certarus CNG for Western Canada E&P

August 9, 2013 in CNG, E&P Operations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

‘There’s an Advantage Now Evolving’ over LNG for Drill Rigs

Canadian start-up Certarus is supplying compressed natural gas for drilling rigs in Alberta, using a distributed compression model to pare transportation costs while avoiding the expenses associated with liquefaction.

Certarus CNG tube trailer and fuel pressure reduction unit

Certarus CNG tube trailer and fuel pressure reduction unit

The first of three CNG facilities able to produce some 46,000 diesel gallon equivalents daily is operational at Grande Prairie, northwest of Edmonton near the British Columbia line, and Certarus has a growing fleet of CNG tube trailers for transporting the fuel to the rig sites.

“There’s a very large misnomer out there that CNG can’t be competitive from a transportation standpoint,” says Certarus co-founder and VP Nathan Ough. By combining strategically located on-purpose CNG plants with a fleet of tube trailers, “There’s an advantage now evolving” for CNG over LNG, he says.

Business Model Seen Viable for Pressure Pumping Too

One key is large-volume tube trailers. Older equipment could handle only about 90,000 standard cubic feet of natural gas, Ough says, while today’s new units can handle as much as 400,000 scf – equal to about 3,000 DGE.

Certarus CNG for an Ensign drill rig in Alberta

Certarus CNG for an Ensign drill rig in Alberta

Certarus has tube trailers from FPC, the Halifax-based Floating Pipeline Company, with Type II (hoop-wrapped steel CNG cylinders). It also operates Titan trailers from Hexagon Lincoln employing Type IV all-composite carbon fiber cylinders.

“We’re going to continue to expand the fleet with both types,” Ough says. The target is as many as three dozen by summer’s end.

CNG Tractors?

The larger fuel delivery fleet opens the fracturing market for us as well,” Ough told HHP Insight. The pressure pumps used in hydraulic fracturing require larger engines than drill rigs – and more of them. Fracking thus represents a far larger opportunity for savings – and a potentially larger market for Certarus – than drilling.

The second Certarus CNG facility, to be open thus autumn, is under construction at Drayton Valley, Alb. A third, also to open in the coming months, will likewise serve operators in the Deep Basin.

Certarus is looking into CNG-fueled tractors for its tube-trailer fleet too.

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Source: Ensign Energy and Certarus with HHP Insight follow-up

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