GE (NYSE: GE) today announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has certified two of the company’s Waukesha natural gas-fueled engine models for mobile, non-road applications. GE is able to offer a new, lower cost, lower emission choice for powering drill rigs and oilfield equipment in place of older diesel units as producers seek to meet the country’s increased demand for cleaner natural gas by developing unconventional oil and gas fields across the United States and Canada.
Powering a drill rig with natural gas instead of diesel fuel can result in up to 80 percent lower fuel costs for a producer. With diesel fuel prices remaining high compared to natural gas, Patterson-UTI Drilling had been looking to reduce fuel costs for producers, a major expense when operating their existing diesel-powered drilling rigs in West Virginia as well as other key gas-producing states. After considering various options, the firm selected GE’s innovative Waukesha gas engine technology.
“Now EPA-mobile certified and combined with the fact these engines run on produced site gas as well as other economically attractive gases, we are able to offer our customers significant cost savings because they do not have to purchase higher priced diesel fuel,” said Mike Garvin, senior vice president of operations support for Patterson-UTI Drilling.
As GE awaited the EPA’s decision to grant the mobile certification for its VHP engine family, Patterson-UTI Drilling replaced existing diesel systems with three Waukesha VHP L7044GSI gas engines at a well site in Harrison County, West Virginia—units that received EPA permit exemptions pending the agency’s mobile certification ruling. Patterson-UTI and GE are also working to replace additional diesel units with EPA-certified Waukesha L7044GSI-EPA engines in other locations in Ohio and Colorado.Other companies making the switch to natural gas include Oklahoma City based Devon Energy, a leading independent oil and natural gas exploration and production firm. Devon Energy recently selected GE’s integrated Power to Lift TM solution, which combines power and grid technologies from across GE—including a Waukesha L5794GSI natural gas engine that also received an EPA permit exemption—to power electric submersible pump operations in the Mississippian formation near Oklahoma City. The Patterson-UTI and Devon Energy projects demonstrate how GE’s Waukesha gas engines offer greater fuel cost savings and fuel flexibility for onsite power or mechanical drive uses in remote oilfields where reliable grid service is unavailable.