posted on September 13, 2013 |
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How much power does a natural gas engine have? According to Fred Stow, director of sales for Waukesha-Pearce Industries (WPI), “the power to change an industry.”
And maybe more than just one.
Drilling for oil and gas could get noticeably cheaper for companies, as in late August the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified two of GE’s Waukesha natural gas-fueled engine models for mobile, non-road applications.
The Waukesha is billed by GE officials as a “lower cost, lower emission choice for powering drill rigs and oilfield equipment in place of older diesel units.” They claim that powering a drill rig with natural gas instead of diesel fuel “can result in up to 80 percent lower fuel costs for a producer.”
Natural Gas — The Virtuous Circle.
They give the case of Patterson-UTI Drilling, currently working in West Virginia and other gas-producing states, which decided to try the Waukesha gas engine technology. Mike Garvin, senior vice president of operations support for Patterson-UTI Drilling, said that the cost advantage enables them to offer lower prices on their product, because customers “do not have to purchase higher-priced diesel fuel.” Cheaper fuel for them, lower prices for customers.
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Fracking makes natural gas cheaper, which makes it possible for engines to run on the cheaper natural gas, which makes extraction of natural gas cheaper. It’s a nice version of a vicious circle, whatever that’s called — a virtuous circle?
In fact, natural gas is so much cheaper now that Forbes recently reported that its iconic F-150 pickup “will be offered with a compressed natural gas engine starting in the 2014 model year, giving contractors and vehicle fleet owners the potential for big savings in their annual operating costs.”
Yes, the CNG version of the F-150 will set you back $10,000 more, but Kevin Koswick, Ford’s director of North American fleet, leasing and re-marketing operations, told Forbes that the company is confident that buyers will see the ROI “in as little as two to three years.”
And just how cheap is cheap? “CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and as little as $1 in some parts of the country. The national average for unleaded regular gasoline is $3.66.”
The Economist noted in May that fracking’s role in unlocking natural gas from America’s vast shale deposits is “the biggest breakthrough the energy industry has seen in decades,” releasing “unprecedented quantities of gas from this shale. As a consequence, the spot price of domestically produced natural gas has tumbled from a high of over $12 per million British Thermal Units in 2008 to less than $2 in 2012, before settling at around $4 today.”
The possibilities are just beginning to be explored. Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, an oil and natural gas exploration and production firm, also recently selected GE’s integrated Power to Lift product combining “power and grid technologies from across GE,” including a Waukesha natural gas engine, “to power electric submersible pump operations in the Mississippian formation near Oklahoma City.”
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This article was originally published on ThomasNet News Industry Market Trends and is reprinted in its entirety with permission from Thomas Industrial Network. For more stories like this please visit Industry Market Trends.