First LNG-Fueled Hydraulic Fracturing Completed in Eagle Ford Play
by Karen Boman Rigzone Staff
The liquefied natural gas (LNG) division of Calgary-based Ferus LP successfully completed in October what the company believes to be the first-ever hydraulic fracturing operation utilizing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as engine fuel in North America.
Ferus’ LNG Division was engaged by a major oil and gas service company in the United States to conduct the pilot project, which involved six dual-fuel 2,250 horsepower pressure pumper units, powered by LNG, to stimulate well performance in the south Texas Eagle Ford shale.
The dual fuel systems allow for natural gas and diesel to be consumed simultaneously with no decrease in performance, Jed Tallman, manager of market development for Ferus LNG, told Rigzone. Approximately 10,000 gallons of LNG was used in the pilot project, which took place in the southwestern portion of the Eagle Ford play.
While the company cannot discuss the plans of the operator involved in the pilot project, Ferus LNG has been contacted by numerous operators and service companies regarding LNG as a low-cost, environmentally superior alternative fuel, Tallman said.
The increase in interest by operators and service companies in using LNG for hydraulic fracturing has been dramatic.
“Because of the large amounts of diesel consumed in fracturing fleets, the use of LNG as an alternative fuel will result in cost savings for the operator or service company, not to mention a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” Tallman commented.
“LNG offers significant environmental and cost-saving advantages and is quickly becoming the alternative fuel of choice for heavy-duty high horsepower on-road and off-road applications in North America,” said Ferus President and CEO Dick Brown in a Nov. 28 statement. “We were very pleased to play such a critical role in this ground-breaking project, and we intend to be at the forefront of this growing industry as more and more diesel consumers make the switch to North America’s abundant supply of natural gas.”
It is difficult to estimate the specific size of the market for LNG in hydraulic fracturing and in other areas such as railroad transportation and trucking moving forward, Tallman commented.
“But given the economic benefits, improved emissions profile, and increased gas production, we feel that LNG will make up a considerably larger percentage of our domestic energy consumption in the future.”
While the use of LNG for hydraulic fracturing is not being specifically done to alleviate criticism of hydraulic fracturing, the improved emissions profile of natural gas certainly is a benefit, Tallman said.
To complete this project, which marks a significant milestone in the adoption of natural gas as an alternative engine fuel, Ferus managed the entire supply chain on behalf of its client including LNG supply, transportation, and on-site storage and vaporization using specialized equipment and highly-trained personnel.
In addition to being a cleaner-burning and less expensive fuel alternative, LNG is non-toxic, non-combustible, non-flammable as a liquid, and dissipates into the atmosphere in the event of a leak or a spill, making it safer than diesel and gasoline, the company said in a statement.
The use of LNG requires specialized fuel handling equipment and additional training for individuals involved in the LNG supply chain.
“As a leading provider of cryogenic liquids for the energy sector, Ferus is uniquely qualified for the undertaking,” Tallman said.
The increased use of natural gas to fuel not only hydraulic fracturing but transportation has grown thanks to the abundance of shale gas in the United States.
The use of natural gas over diesel is becoming more widespread, likely due to the cost benefits associated with fuel switching, according to a Nov. 28 analyst report from GHS Research. GHS referenced Baker Hughes‘ Nov. 26 announcement that it would convert a fleet of its Rhino hydraulic fracturing units to bifuel pumps as a way to improve operational efficiency, lower costs and reduce health, safety and environment impacts. Bifuel is a mix of gas and diesel.
The new pumps use a mixture of gas and diesel, reducing diesel use by up to 65 percent with no loss of hydraulic horsepower. The converted fleet, which meets all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards, can also reduce a number of emissions including nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and particulate matter.
Baker Hughes first converted a small fleet of its units in Canada; the success Baker Hughes saw with this endeavor prompted to company to convert an entire fleet in the United States. The company is converting several more fleets of Rhino trucks to Rhino Bifuel equipment. Baker Hughes also has a test program in Oklahoma, where a number of light-duty vehicles have been converted to natural gas.
Westport Innovations, which manufactures natural gas-powered truck engines, recently reported it is building a railroad locomotive engine that can run on LNG. During 2012, the company saw “broad consensus” for the first time that natural gas will take material market share in every global transportation market within the next five years, said David Demers, chief executive officer for Westport, during the company’s third quarter 2012 earnings update Nov. 8.
Demers noted that consensus suggests that the company will see 7 percent to 15 percent of the North American trucking industry run on natural gas in 2017.
Westport Innovations will also introduce new natural gas-powered versions of the Ford F-450 and F-550 Super Duty trucks in mid-2013, the company said in a Dec. 3 statement.
“Although current demand for natural gas used in vehicles is minor relative to the demand associated with power generation, industry and residential heating, it is catching on and may soon reach a tipping a point where growth rapidly accelerates, with or without government intervention,” GHS reported.
- Baker Hughes using natural gas in fracturing jobs (fuelfix.com)
- Baker Hughes Converts Fleet of Hydraulic Fracturing Units to Bifuel (maritime-executive.com)
- USA: Waller Marine to Develop LNG Terminal (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Natural gas exports are in near future, Exxon says (star-telegram.com)
The U.S. is Blocking Energy Wealth and Jobs
By Alan Caruba
What if I told you that the government was blocking America’s prosperity in the form of enormous untapped energy reserves that represent wealth and jobs that would once again put America on the path to fiscal security and growth?
Recently, Matt Vespa, on CNS.com reported that the International Energy Agency released a report that said the United States has the capacity to outpace Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s leading producers of oil. It projected that the U.S. could become a net oil exporter around 2020. It could become entirely self-sufficient.
Even so, the Obama administration just moved to cordon off 1.6 million acres estimated to represent one trillion barrels worth of oil in the name of conservation. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to so encumber hydraulic fracturing—fracking—with so many regulations it will thwart increased use of this extraction technology that has been safely in use for decades.
As Dan Kish, Senior Vice President for Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, warns, there is a major government effort “to federalize hydraulic fracturing regulation” which is already being done by states “in a very professional and knowledgeable way. Take fracking away, the oil and gas production drops.”
For years, through many administrations, the federal government has been doing everything in its power to restrict drilling domestically and off-shore where billions of barrels of oil remains untapped. In October, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.”
As far back as 1976, Congress designated the Reserve a strategic oil and gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation”, but oil and gas that is not extracted meets no needs. It keeps the nation dependent on imported oil and gas. In an August 22 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from the entire Alaska delegation in Congress called it “the largest wholesale land withdrawal and blocking of access to an energy resource by the federal government in decades.”
Noting that “Most of the other 11.5 million acres are almost indistinguishable from the acreage owned by the state that is being drilled safely nearby” the Journal pointed out that drilling on privately owned land has seen North Dakota pass Alaska as the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, “The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres of the land in the United States. Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land; the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service, all in the Department of the Interior.” The Bureau of Land Management manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.
Mostly by stealth, more and more privately owned land is being purchased by the federal government. In September 2011, Audrey Hudson, writing for Human Events, reported that “The Obama administration is spending $35 million to buy 30,000 acres of private property across the U.S. this year to make permanent homes for mice, fairy shrimp, mussels, prairie bushes and beetles. Those are just some of the 70 critters and plants to benefit from the land purchases in a dozen states as part of the government’s habitat conservation plans for endangered species.”
Quoting Rob Gordon of The Heritage Foundation, Hudson reported that “The federal government already owns more land than Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland combined.” The Endangered Species Act is just an excuse to secure ownership of more land and, in particular, to restrict development of every description from housing to hospitals.
Instead of a future in which our oil and gas reserves could unleash all manner of economic growth and the generation of thousands of new jobs, Ben Wolfgang, reporting in the November 22 edition of The Washington Times, “The drilling process that has brought the U.S. energy independence within reach faces renewed scrutiny from the Obama administration and an uncertain future in many states.”
“Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a draft of its long-awaited report on suspected links between water pollution and fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, combined with sand and chemical mixtures, to crack underground rock and release trapped oil and gas.” Fracking, however, occurs well below underground water levels and has been shown to have no effect on it.
What we are witnessing is the deliberate effort by the Obama administration, in concert with earlier administrations, to deny the economic benefit of tapping the nation’s vast reserves of oil and gas domestically and off-shore. This was evident, as well, in the President’s decision about the XL Keystone pipeline on the grounds that it threatened aquifers if allowed to proceed. Thousands of jobs were lost in that single decision with no evidence of the truth of the assertion.
As the nation sinks further into economic decline and default, it is obvious that the nation’s energy sector is being thwarted at a time when it holds the promise of lifting it out of growing unemployment, higher energy costs, and the drumbeat of utterly false environmental claims about greenhouse gas emissions.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Alan Caruba’s commentaries are posted daily at “Warning Signs” and shared on dozens of news and opinion websites. His blog recently passed more than 2 million page views. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. For information on his professional skills, Caruba Editorial Services is the place to go! You can find Alan Caruba on both Facebook and Twitter as well.
- Noble Energy Makes Oil Discovery at Big Bend Prospect in U.S. Gulf (mb50.wordpress.com)
- China planning ‘huge fracking industry’ (guardian.co.uk)
- The Poisonous Presidency (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Edwards: Drilling bills are expected this session (times-news.com)
Cummins Westport Begins Developing New Gas Engine, Canada
Cummins Westport announced it has begun development on the ISB6.7 G, a mid-range 6.7 liter natural gas engine designed to meet the increasing demand for on-highway vehicles powered by lower cost, cleaner and increasingly abundant natural gas. As a leading supplier of natural gas engines, Cummins Westport Inc. continues to expand its product range to supply the growing demand for natural gas engines.
The ISB6.7 G engine will be based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine and will use Cummins Westport’s proven spark-ignited, stoichiometric cooled exhaust gas recirculation (SEGR) technology. Exhaust aftertreatment will be provided by a simple, maintenance-free three-way catalyst.
The engine will run on compressed natural gas (CNG), however, the natural gas may be stored on the vehicle in liquefied natural gas (LNG) state or as CNG. The ISB6.7 G is expected to be in production by 2015 and will be designed to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations in force at the time of launch.
“The addition of the ISB6.7 G will round out our family of high performance natural gas engines,” said Jim Arthurs, President of Cummins Westport. “It joins the 8.9-liter ISL G, with over 16,000 engines in service, and the 11.9-litre ISX12 G, which will start production in 2013, to give our customers a broad range of natural gas engines for on-highway applications.”
Cummins Westport Begins Developing New Gas Engine, Canada LNG World News.
The Slippery Slope of Domestic Drones
There are plenty of obvious concerns about the use of domestic drones. Their use by law enforcement is expanding rapidly, and it’s only normal to be concerned about privacy laws. Even if you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place, with drones the size of hummingbirds, will you have a reasonable expectation of privacy on your own property, or even through your own windows? In the long run, what will constitute the need for surveillance? In Washington state it could be a nice new way to fine litterers.
Let’s not forget the original intent of this technology. Drones are used by our military to spy on, and to kill our enemies. Or at least, those we perceive to be our enemies, whether guilt has been proven or not, and with a callous disregard for collateral damage.
While it could be argued that some use of surveillance drones is reasonable; for example, border patrol or missing persons cases, how soon does it become difficult to draw the line? Are we there already?
Just this week members of Congress accused the EPA of using drones to conduct surveillance flights over Iowa and Nebraska farms. Though they were assured by the EPA that they are using only manned aircraft to check for violations of federal clean water laws, it does make one wonder about the right of the EPA to conduct this type of surveillance in the first place. Not to mention the fact that even Congress doesn’t know what the EPA is doing.
We have many large government agencies like this. The EPA might not actually be using drones to monitor your compliance with federal laws now, but how long until they are? With domestic drones getting smaller and easier to come by, it seems that it is only a matter of time. And if the EPA now, then who next? The FDA? It would be a lot easier for them to keep tabs on who you are selling your raw milk to, if they could only monitor everyone who comes and goes from your property.
Then there is the fact that law enforcement is already talking about arming drones with rubber bullets. Of course this is mainly for things like crowd control. But At some point do you look up at the drone flying over head and feel a sudden solidarity with citizens in Islamabad, wondering; am I next? Perhaps the idea seems a little far fetched now, but not so very long ago, the idea of drones surveying your neighborhood was also far fetched.
Welcome to our new reality.
James Madison once warned us that “the means of defense against foreign danger have always been the instruments of tyranny at home.”
Is doesn’t seem like wisdom to treat our government, who can so easily brush off the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians, as if they are somehow different people when it comes to surveillance here at home. We need to be vigilant about how this technology is used.
H.R. 5925, The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, was recently introduced by Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA, “To protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones, and for other purposes.” The text of the bill is not available yet, but it would require the government to obtain warrants for surveillance purposes.The bill is currently bound up in judicial committee where many bills go – never to be heard from again. It’s a good start though, and a reminder that we can enact our own surveillance regulation in our own states. In the meantime, we should be asking our Congress men and women to support this kind of legislation that would protect our 4th amendment rights.
- Sen. Paul proposes bill protecting Americans from drone surveillance (thehill.com)
- Sen. Paul Introduces Bill to Protect Americans Against Unwarranted Drone Surveillance (ConservativeActionAlerts.com)
- EPA Drones, part 2 (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
- Is EPA Using Drones Over Missouri? (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Public Intelligence identifies 64 aerial drone bases in the US (theverge.com)
- Why Is the EPA Using Drones to Spy on Cattle Ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa? (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Farmers vs. EPA – EPA now using drones for surveillance (revolutionarypolitics.tv)