Recently, the North America Oil and Gas industry has seen a rapid increase in the adoption of new hydraulic fracturing technologies such as dual-fuel diesel engine, electric system powered by gas turbine or engine on-site and turbine direct drive technology, to reduce emissions and operating costs. The objective of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of economic, environmental, and technical considerations when selecting the next generation hydraulic fracturing equipment platform.
It is believed that any next-generation technology must meet the following key requirements: 1. Reduction of GHG and EPA regulated emissions; 2. Reduced equipment footprint; 3. Capable of meeting the most stringent noise standard; 4. Improved reliability; 5. Improved pad-to-pad mobility; 6. Reduced maintenance and personnel costs; 7. Competitive capital cost. For the selection process, a methodology was developed to evaluate the energy density of fuel, thermal efficiency of prime movers, mechanical power transfer efficiency, and equipment operating environment and configuration against the above objectives. The methodology also considered the technical and commercial feasibility of key components.
Natural gas is selected as the mobile primary energy source due to its higher energy density and lower emission profile than conventional diesel, and more economical and widely available on-site. Among all available natural gas-powered engines evaluated, which included dual-fuel diesel engine, gas reciprocating engine, single large turbine and direct drive turbine, the direct drive turbine scored the highest. The direct drive pumping unit is equipped with a 5,000 HHP continuous duty power end driven by a 5,000 HHP dual shaft turbine through a single speed reduction gearbox. This combination provides the most efficient mechanical power transfer efficiency resulting in significant fuel cost savings and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Because of its high-power density, the direct drive turbine system can potentially reduce the number of on-site equipment by 43% and personnel by 31%. Comparing to other next generation hydraulic fracturing system, the direct drive turbine technology has the lowest capital cost per HHP.