Operational and Environmental Performance Perspectives
In the upstream oil and gas sector, reliable, clean and efficient field power is essential for maintaining uninterrupted production. Essential production equipment, including electric submersible pumps (ESPs), pump jacks, compressors, chemical pumps, blowers and more typically require electric power. In addition to operational factors, oil and gas operators today must consider environmental factors when determining how best to provide electric power to well sites, production pads and facilities.
This paper covers the best practices for providing electric power to oil and gas operations, emphasizing both operational and environmental performance objectives.
Field Power Alternatives
Before delving into best practices, it’s crucial to understand the most commonly available power alternatives:
Utility Power (The Grid). Wherever possible, connecting to the local power grid is an attractive option due to its convenience. However, this may not be feasible or available in remote oil and gas fields. Additionally, grid reliability can be a significant issue because one sudden interruption of power (i.e., a blackout) can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention production downtime.
Reciprocating Engine Generators (Diesel and Natural Gas Powered). Generators operated by diesel and natural gas reciprocating engines are prevalent in the industry for their portability and ease of fuel availability. Diesel fueled generators typically produce the most emissions, which include the emissions of both the generator itself and the trucks used to haul diesel to the well site. Natural gas reciprocating engines usually produce less emissions than diesel, but they still have the inherent disadvantage of wear and tear on moving parts. Maintenance interval on reciprocating engines is also a major factor as these typically require service every 750 to 1000 hours. Short maintenance intervals increase, service costs, disposal fees and planned downtime.
Natural Gas Turbine Generators. Gas turbines fueled by natural gas produced on the well site or from tank vapors captured from liquid storage tanks are an increasingly favored option for oil and gas operators for their flexibility, modularity, strong power output, efficiency, reliability, emissions performance and fuel flexibility. They can operate on a variety of fuels, including natural gas and liquid fuels. Additionally, gas turbines typically have a single planned maintenance per year that can be accomplished in one shift.
Other less common field power alternatives for oil and gas operators include fuel cells and thermoelectric generators, but those are not prevalent enough to warrant further discussion.
Factors for Choosing the Right Field Power Option
When deciding on the best power source for your operation, we suggest you consider these seven critical factors to ensure optimal operational and environmental performance:
- Unplanned downtime can result in significant financial losses. Even one sudden interruption of power (i.e., a blackout) can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention production downtime. Selecting a reliable power source with a proven track record ensures continuous operations.
- Environmental Performance (Emissions). Leading oil and gas operators have made environmental performance, specifically reducing emissions, a critical goal and have set mandates for achieving emissions reduction targets. Field power sources with a low emissions profile helps achieve corporate environmental goals, avoids the tradeoff of reducing emissions from one source with higher emissions from another and can help with regulatory compliance.
- Demonstrated Uptime and/or Availability. Choosing a power source with a history of demonstrated uptime, reliability and mechanical availability is essential to reliable, safe and profitable operations.
- Service Responsiveness and Locality. Quick and efficient maintenance and support are vital to minimize downtime and keep operations running smoothly. Choosing a power solution with a local service presence significantly improves responsiveness for maximizing uptime.
- Planned Maintenance Interval. Planned downtime and number of service touches required for power generation can impact actual uptime and availability. Technology with many planned maintenance touches may require redundant units in order to maintain production operations while machines are being serviced.
- Feedback Loop to the Manufacturer (Fast Problem Solving). Choosing a provider with a direct feedback loop with the manufacturer facilitates fast service response, prompt issue resolution and ensures ongoing improvement in power system performance.
- Remote Monitoring Capability. Real-time remote monitoring of power systems enables operators to analyze performance, optimize well site efficiency, identify potential issues proactively, evidence continuous compliance and implement predictive maintenance strategies.
- Sound/Noise. Noise levels can be a concern, especially in environmentally sensitive areas or regions with nearby communities. In these scenarios, opting for quieter power solutions is preferable.
Best Practices for Field Power in Oil & Gas
Based on the primary factors mentioned above, the following best practices can significantly enhance the operational and environmental performance of oil and gas operations:
- Gas Turbine Generators. Gas turbines stand out as an optimal power solution due to their reliability, high efficiency, low maintenance requirements, fuel flexibility and low emissions compared to reciprocating engine generators. Gas turbine generators range from relatively compact microturbines for powering individual well sites to larger gas turbines capable of powering an entire facility for large secondary or tertiary oil recovery projects.
- Local Service Capability. Choosing a power provider with local service teams ensures rapid response times for maintenance and technical support, minimizing downtime.
- Partner with a Company with a Direct Relationship with the Manufacturer. Working with a power provider that has a direct relationship with the turbine manufacturer facilitates streamlined communication and faster issue resolution.
The FlexEnergy Advantage
The advantages of choosing FlexEnergy Solutions for your field power needs meets the best practices outlined above and provides meaningful advantages:
Flex Turbine® Microturbine. The Flex Turbine is a microturbine offering high reliability, low emissions and wide fuel tolerance in a scalable/modular design. With more than 20 years of engineering and manufacturing experience, coupled with over a decade of operating a lease fleet, the Flex Turbine is proven, dependable and delivers 333 kilowatts of continuous clean power.
Siemens SGT-50 Gas Turbine Generator. The SGT-50 delivers up to 2.0 megawatts of clean electric power, capable of powering large projects with the operational simplicity of one unit.
Scalable. Multiple Flex Turbines can be combined into a single FlexGrid microgrid that can scale up, or down, based on changing power needs.
Remote Monitoring Capability. Flex Turbines come equipped with remote monitoring capabilities, enabling real-time performance tracking and predictive maintenance, ensuring maximum uptime and efficiency.
Service Locations. Flex Energy has service locations strategically positioned in key oil and gas regions, including North Dakota (Bakken), Texas (Permian Basin), Calgary (Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin), Pennsylvania and Southern California, guaranteeing swift and efficient support.
Leasing Option. FlexEnergy provides a leasing option, offering cost-effective access to their reliable and efficient power solutions.
Benefits of Choosing FlexEnergy
Choosing FlexEnergy can give you a competitive advantage in uptime and cost control:
- Maximize Production. The high reliability, wide fuel tolerance, few moving parts, and proven technology of the Flex Turbine microturbine and SGT-50 ensure the highest uptime and reliability, especially when compared to reciprocating engine generators, safeguarding continuous production and cash flow.
- Fast Service. With local service capability and remote monitoring, Flex Energy maximizes uptime and production by providing rapid service and support.
- Low Operating Emissions. Flex Turbine represents the lowest emissions alternative, aligning with environmental objectives and regulations. Low exhaust emissions of ≤10ppm NOx and CO (corrected to 15% Oxygen on natural gas at ISO conditions). Meets most stringent state and federal requirements for air permitting.
- Reduce or Eliminate Flaring. The Flex Turbine reliably generates power using collected flare gas and vent gas, converting a waste stream into beneficial use.
- Quiet. The Flex Turbine runs quiet and emits only 62 dB(A) measured at 10 meters and with low sound options, produces only 55 dB(A) measured at 10 meters.
- Eliminates Diesel. Site gas is used for power. Eliminates the need for diesel transport, simultaneously cutting added emissions from typical diesel- or gas-powered reciprocating engine turbines.
- Flexible. The modular design of the Flex Turbine allows special and custom turbine configurations to be built, including microgrids. Individual main components can be modified or designed out of custom turbine configurations.
- Wide Fuel Tolerance. Runs on gas ranging from 350 Btu/scf to 2500 Btu/scf, handles sour gas with H2S content up to 6,500 ppmv, contains up to 70% CO2 and can burn gas with nitrogen content up to 30%.
- Low Pressure Option. With an Internal Gas Booster option, Flex Turbines can run on a low-pressure fuel gas supply (e.g., tank vapor gas).
Clean, reliable and simple field power is critical to maximizing economic returns and the environmental performance of your oil and gas producing assets. Following the best practices outlined in this white paper, including the use of gas turbines, choosing a provider with a local service presence and partnering with a company having a close relationship with the turbine’s manufacturer helps operators maximize uptime and achieve environmental performance goals.
Contact FlexEnergy Solutions to learn more about our reliable, clean and simple field power solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (720) 573-7664.