Apache would replace diesel with gas on frac jobs

Apache Corp., Houston, said it has partnered with Halliburton and Schlumberger to find ways to use natural gas to power hydraulic fracturing, one of the most energy-intensive processes employed by the industry.

Only 1% of drilling rigs and zero full frac spreads are powered by gas, Apache said. In 2012, the industry will have used more than 700 million gal of diesel to pump sand and water during fracture stimulation. That’s $2.38 billion spent on diesel at a recent average of $3.40/gal.

Converting the process to using field gas would reduce fuel costs by 70%, said Mike Bahorich, Apache’s executive vice-president of technology.

“When I approached Halliburton and told them Apache wanted to do this, they told me that the reason that frac spreads that moved every week did not run on natural gas was due to the complexity of the natural gas supply and support infrastructure,” Bahorich said. “I also contacted Schlumberger. It didn’t take long for both companies to call back and tell me it could be done.”

Halliburton told Bahorich it invented a system for Apache that quickly connects gas to pumping engines, making gas a viable fuel to rapidly and routinely move from job to job. It is comprised of a simple gas line that connects from the natural gas source to an engine using a quick-connect jumper to link the gas line between trucks.

Bahorich decided to put out a bid to both Halliburton and Schlumberger. Each came back and said separately they would do a trial with Apache at zero cost.

“That’s almost unheard of, and it shows you how much they wanted to do this,” Bahorich said. “By using field gas, the US would import 17 million fewer barrels of oil each year to make the diesel to fuel these fracs,” Bahorich said.

Schlumberger is testing a system using compressed natural gas, while Halliburton is using liquefied natural gas. Both companies have the goal of using field gas to power the massive engines used to pump sand and water into the ground in hydraulic fracturing, which is credited with having led to massive increases in US oil and gas production.

One of the biggest challenges the companies faced was finding a way to get the powerful engines to run on gas as a fuel. The engines currently run on diesel, which uses the heat of compression to ignite the fuel to burn, while gas, like gasoline, relies on spark plugs to ignite an air-fuel mixture.

The team was faced with the challenge of using gas only when the engines were running at high RPMs and not when idling. The companies turned to US engine manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. to solve that problem.

“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,” said Brian Erickson, Apache senior production engineer, E&P Technology. Erickson, along with Sam Goswick, a drilling engineer with the Central Region, is leading the field trials. “This has been a key factor that is allowing us to move forward to make this a reality.”

Apache, Halliburton, and Schlumberger have had several successful tests in Oklahoma in the Granite Wash using as many as eight engines running on the dual-fuel kits. A full complement of 12 engines was scheduled to be used on Dec. 10, 2012, at a frac near Elk City, Okla.

Potential cost savings by using dual-fuel in a hydraulic fracturing operation are great, Apache said.

For example, a single frac in the Granite Wash at Stiles Ranch field in the Texas Panhandle would typically use 36,290 gal of diesel. Using a mid-December 2012 price of $3.40/gal 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.

Bahorich said, “This is a real trend and it’s happening now. 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.”

Related Articles

Statoil drilling first production well at Gina Krog field

07/23/2015 Statoil ASA has started drilling the first production well at Gina Krog field, 30 km northwest of Sleipner in the North Sea (OGJ Online, Oct. 28, 2...

OGUK updates guidelines for well abandonments

07/23/2015

Oil & Gas UK has released updated guidelines for abandonment of wells, including cost estimates.

BSEE grants Shell limited drilling rights for Chukchi project

07/23/2015 The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has grated conditional approval to Royal Dutch Shell PLC of two applications for permi...

Gazprom Neft brings fifth well on production in Iraq’s Badra field

07/23/2015

JSC Gazprom Neft said a fifth well has been brought into production in Badra field in eastern Iraq (OGJ Online, June 26, 2015).

Statoil’s Julius well discovers gas, condensate in King Lear area

07/23/2015 Statoil ASA said its Julius exploratory well, drilled in the King Lear area of the Norwegian North Sea, has discovered gas and condensate (OGJ Onli...

BHP Billiton still interpreting deepwater Trinidad and Tobago seismic data

07/22/2015 BHP Billiton, the operator of all of the deepwater blocks awarded by Trinidad and Tobago, has said it will decide how many wells it will drill base...

BLM extends comment period for Colorado oil, gas project’s EA

07/21/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management has extended the comment period for a preliminary environmental assessment (EA) of a proposed oil and gas project ...

Well completed at Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye oil field onshore Russian Arctic

07/21/2015 JSC Gazprom Neft reported completion of construction of the first production well at Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye oil field on the Gydan Peninsula in n...

Total starts oil flow from Dalia Phase 1A on Block 17 off Angola

07/21/2015

Total SA has started production from Dalia Phase 1A, a development on the company’s deep offshore operated Block 17, 135 km offshore Angola.

White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected