Juan Carlos Hernández Nájera
Director General
Industrias Energéticas

Microturbines Utilizing Unprocessed Associated Gas

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:05

Power generation in remote locations is one of the many challenges that oil and gas companies must face in their upstream operations. Traditionally, diesel generators have been used to power rigs, platforms and transmission stations. An alternative to these generators is gas-powered microturbines. US company Capstone has installed 55 microturbines for Pemex to date, with around 20 of these turbines installed at the NOC’s offshore platforms.

Some of these microturbines have only one moving part with no gearbox, which makes maintenance extremely simple and cost-effective compared to diesel generators. Industrias Energéticas is the exclusive distributor of Capstone’s microturbines in the Gulf of Mexico and the company’s main partner in Mexico. Juan Carlos Hernández Nájera, Director General of Industrias Energéticas, explains that, “The main advantage of a microturbine is its reliability, and the other is less maintenance. With this type of equipment, the first maintenance has to be provided after the first 8,000 hours. With diesel generators, you have to provide maintenance after every 700 hours, and it is a lengthy process because the lubricant and spare parts have to be changed, which can take up to four days. After the first 8,000 hours, Capstone microturbines only need 8-12 hours for their maintenance service.”

For the specific use of the oil and gas industry, Capstone manufactures microturbines that can utilize unprocessed wellhead gas. These microturbines use no oil, lubricants, coolants or other hazardous materials, eliminating the need for the materials’ transport and storage. The generators- Capstone’s C30, C65 and C200 models - use flare gas and economic site gas to generate power. These generators can be used for exploration and production operations, but also for gas storage and transmission facilities. Some of the major oil and gas companies that utilize Capstone turbines include Shell, Chevron, Gazprom, Petrobras, and ExxonMobil.

Despite Capstone turbines costing around 30%-40% more on initial outlay, Hernández Nájera says that Pemex is keen to adopt these turbines because of the long-term value proposition that they offer, as well as the fact that they can help reduce emissions and flaring. The potential for further installations is high, as Pemex has around 400 platforms where microturbine technology could be used.