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BlackBrush Oil & Gas is using Alphabet Energy PGCs™ to utilize their previously flared waste-gas to generate power for new electrical equipment in the field. The PGC™ is allowing BlackBrush to replace pneumatic equipment with electrical equipment at remote production and transmission sites, eliminate the eyesore of flares, and reduce emissions. Overall, this is allowing BlackBrush to generate more revenue while improving operational safety, reliability, and emissions.
Background and Problem
BlackBrush Oil & Gas is a San Antonio-based oil & gas producer with over 160,000 acres of land leases and operations across the Eagle Ford, Buda, Pearsall, Olmos, and San Miguel basins. Centered around Carrizo Springs, Texas, BlackBrush’s Eagle Ford operations are comprised of an integrated network of wells and tank batteries which produce a range of hydrocarbons including oil, wet gas, and dry gas.
BlackBrush’s area of the Eagle Ford is remote and the company is regularly presented with a number of mission-critical challenges around their operations. These challenges are both operational in nature and affect a number of key stakeholders including shareholders, neighbors, and royalty owners.
In terms of operations, production at well pads in these remote locations means:
- High cost associated with scheduled field service and equipment maintenance
- Nonexistence of an electrical power grid infrastructure;
- High cost associated with time and labor for unscheduled maintenance;
- High risk associated with trespassing, vandalism and equipment theft;
- Lack of ability to deploy diesel gensets, and a need for 2 to 2.5 kW of power.
In terms of stakeholders, local land, and royalty owners regularly take issue with:
- Visible flames associated with open flares;
- Traffic associated with the frequent comings and goings of maintenance crews, service vehicles and site personnel;
- Noise pollution associated with engines and generators;
- Lost income associated with flared products that are not sold to market or utilized.
While wet gas production sites produce both natural gas and high value condensate, they require the deployment of multiple tanks that store both condensate prior to transport to market and produced water. As a result of normal operations—including ambient temperature fluctuation, truck loading, etc.—these tank batteries generate volatile hydrocarbon vapors (VOCs) that have to be managed in order to maintain safe site operation. As a result, for site safety, operational effectiveness, and EPA compliance reasons, these vapors are collected and destroyed via combustion processes and flares.
BlackBrush deploys a number of flares across its sites in order to effectively manage safety and compliance. But in combusting these tank battery vapors, the company generated another byproduct—high temperature exhaust—and was losing out on an opportunity for OPEX improvement using these two resources because of the lack of technology in the marketplace with which to do so.
BlackBrush Oil & Gas learned about Alphabet Energy’s PGC™ after hearing about Alphabet Energy’s midstream work with Encana & Sinopec. Well ahead of many of their regional peers, BlackBrush purchased PGCs™ to transfer Alphabet Energy’s proven midstream technology to their well pads to generate 2.5 kW of power. The single, fully integrated PGC™ delivers both Quad O compliant destruction of volatile gases and meets BlackBrush’s need for onsite power generation by converting post-combustion heat into electricity. The value proposition was a clear fit for BlackBrush and both their engineering and operations teams concluded that the PGC™ was the best solution for reliable power and safe, validated waste destruction. The waste gas input requirements and performance for the PGC™ can be found in Figures 1 and 2, respectively.
As an added benefit, BlackBrush quickly learned that the PGC effectively addresses a number of additional strategic problems. This same piece of equipment improves site reliability and showcases BlackBrush’s commitment to being a good neighbour
- The PGC™ uses an enclosed combustion chamber with forced air blowers that eliminates smoke and visible flames: a clear win for neighbors, ranchers and landowners.
- The 2.5kW of power from the PGC™ allows BlackBrush to upgrade site SCADA systems and to install an instrument air package: a significant improvement for site reliability, fewer call-outs, and reduced fugitive emissions associated with pneumatic controllers and pumps. A list of electrical equipment and the associated emissions reductions that BlackBrush and other operators plan to deploy and achieve can be found in Table 1 below.
- The PGC™ enables BlackBrush to install lighting along site perimeters: a strong show of the importance of employee safety and site security.
- The PGC™ enables BlackBrush to avoid additional emissions associated with generators onsite or tying into the electrical grid. (See Table 2 below for further detail.)
BlackBrush selected two of their most challenging Eagle Ford production sites for initial deployments and proving of two Alphabet Energy PGC’s. These well pads have never had electricity before, but now BlackBrush Oil & Gas is ready to standardize their site designs with new electrical loads and their team is looking forward to the increased optionality and improved safety of having reliable power on site.
The PGC™ consists of technologies that have been tried and tested in the oil patch, including an off-the-shelf combustor system and Alphabet Energy PowerModules™: maintenance-free, solid-state devices. Its performance is reliable and predictable, and the unit can generate a steady, constant supply of electrical power even with varying gas flow and heating value inputs by using a proprietary assist-gas system. The amount of gas needed to generate 2.5 kW is shown below in Figure 1. In instances where BlackBrush may see intermittent flows above what the PGC™ is designed to input, an existing stick flare downstream of the PGC™ readily accepts and destructs excess gas.