When markets are free to innovate and exploit opportunities they tend to do so. A good example is the domestic natural gas market. The shale revolution resulted in extensive reserves of light oil and natural gas. The abundance of natural gas provided a stable supply but the sheer magnitude of reserves exerted downward pressure on prices and left large volumes unutilized. In an effort to monetize this resource, gas operators, transporters and distributors looked for new markets. Pipeline sales to Mexico and Canada were initiated or expanded, export facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) were built, and gas to liquid (GTL), and combined heat and power (CHP) technologies refined.
There is a growing trend to miniaturize, or at least scale down, many of these technologies to make them economically viable in areas that have limited gas reserves and/or are so far from major markets that they would not otherwise be profitable.
GTL has been around since World War II, when the Nazis used the technology to convert natural gas into diesel. It has now evolved to the point that it is enabling “stranded” gas reserves to provide fuel to relatively isolated areas both domestically and internationally.
CHP, also known as “cogeneration” had been used for decades. Now microturbines, as small as a refrigerator, can generate electricity from natural gas for end use or, in some cases, sale back to a power grid.
Now similar advances in scaled down technology are being used for LNG. A recent article in “World Oil” reports that the Dresser-Rand division of Siemens Power and Gas has installed a modular, portable LNG facility at the Mainesburg gas field in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale. The plant was operating within just four months of contract signing. The installation consists of four modules, can be transported on eight trucks, and has a footprint the size of a basketball court.
The facility is operated by Pioneer Natural Resources and provides LNG for high horsepower applications such as marine, rail, and truck transportation, mining, and hydraulic fracturing. This innovative application of LNG technology is enabling an otherwise unused resource to benefit local users.
To read the article in its entirety, please go to http://www.worldoil.com/news/2017/1/18/dresser-rand-commissions-its-first-small-scale-lng-production-solution .
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