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Powering LNG-Fueled Drilling Rigs

Seneca Resources, Ensign Drilling replace diesel generators to reduce emissions in giant unconventional gas field

Posted on November 27, 2012

Energy developer Seneca Resources Corp. and drilling partner Ensign Drilling have installed two GE Jenbacher gas engines to power the first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fueled drilling rigs of their kind in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation is located in sections of Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

Seneca converted the power plants of two existing diesel-powered rigs to use cleaner-burning LNG in GE’s 1 MW Jenbacher J320 turbocharged natural gas engines. The Jenbacher units were combined with Ensign Drilling-designed rig packages to provide all the electricity needed by each drilling rig. The J320 represents GE’s first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified technology for mobile and stationary drilling applications, the company said.

Powering a drill rig with natural gas instead of diesel can result in up to 60% lower fuel costs. LNG also represents a cleaner alternative to diesel for the transportation industry and trucks, reducing overall combustion emissions up to 25%.

Seneca Resources is a wholly owned exploration and production subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company, while Ensign Drilling is a land-based driller and well servicing provider for crude oil, natural gas and geothermal projects. Prometheus Energy Group, a North American industrial LNG supplier, is Seneca Resources’ turnkey supplier of the LNG and related equipment and services. 

“We are excited to work with our partner Seneca Resources to implement this innovative project that is using LNG in GE’s proven Jenbacher gas engines to reduce the environmental impacts of energy production while giving communities in Pennsylvania the opportunity to share in the economic benefits of developing the Marcellus Shale gas reserves,” said Robert Geddes, president and CEO of Ensign Drilling.