GE and Ferus come up with new solution to tackle gas flaring in the Bakken

Oil torch
Source: DollarPhotoClub

GE AND Ferus Natural Gas Fuels have come up with a novel solution that will limit gas flaring associated with shale gas exploration – the portal TCE Today has reported.

Dry natural gas – cheaper than shale oil or natural gas liquids – is often considered a by-product of exploration and without an inexpensive way of transporting it to the point of use, it is often flared, releasing considerable levels of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The new solution provided by the two companies is called the ‘Last Mile Fuelling Solution’ and consists of a specially-designed mobile compressor and trailers, allowing the gas to be transported the short – but vitally important – distance from the wellhead to the point of use without the need for pipes on the ground.

Norway’s Statoil has been using a pilot version of the system near Watford City in the US state of North Dakota for several months, but will now be expanding it to power up to six drill rigs as well as one ‘frac fleet’ of pumps and equipment.

North Dakota’s Bakken shale is particularly affected by the problem of flaring as it lacks the pipeline infrastructure to store and transport the natural gas produced alongside the more valuable oil. As it stands, operators are flaring off up to 30% – some 300m ft3/d – of the associated natural gas produced in the Bakken.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce flaring as much as possible and capture the gas in our wells,” says Russell Rankin, regional manager for Statoil. “We have been working to capture as much as gas as possible for a while now.

“We need some solutions to capture gas now, when there is a lack of pipeline capacity. But this system can also be very useful in remote areas with no pipeline access.”

Statoil says it anticipates that this new commercial-level expansion of the project will up the amount of flare gas it captures to 3–5m ft3/d by the end of 2014.

“Not only is Last Mile enabling our company to better comply with the new flaring regulations in North Dakota, but by using this captured natural gas in place of diesel in our drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations, we are further reducing emissions and costs,” says Lance Langford, Statoil’s vice president for Bakken development and production. “This is good for profit and the climate.”

GE and Ferus say they are also in discussions with several other major players in the Bakken region about using the Last Mile system, with the potential of fuelling a further 100 drill rigs.

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