Migration of PEMEX toward MicroturbinesWed, 01/22/2014 - 12:56
Tape-SPARX has been in talks with PEMEX E&P about the migration from internal combustion engines fuelled by diesel or gasoline to microturbines. “PEMEX already uses Capstone turbines on its offshore platforms, but these are more difficult to operate than our microturbines, which can be operated with methane, synthetic hydrogen, and natural gas,” says Luis Enrique Garduño Landázuri, Head of Project Intelligence of Tape-Sparx. Although the dominant global fuel for the generation of electricity is gas, a large percentage of electricity generation in Mexico is fossil fuel-based, as Mexico is still making the transition from diesel and heating oil. It is telling that Tape-SPARX’s main competitors in Mexico are Capstone and internal combustion engine manufacturers such as Manpower and Caterpillar. “Our company has differentiated itself from the competition by creating a product that generates far less harmonic distortion, a measure of the cleanliness of the energy generated, than traditional processes used to generate electricity. Our total thermal efficiency is also higher than our competitors, at 40%; Capstone has levels of around 28 to 30%. That is a 10 to 12% direct saving in energy costs, which could allow clients to obtain an internal return a year earlier than with liquid propane, for example,” says Garduño.
He points out that his company’s products are robust and only require maintenance once a year with no down time. “More than the cost of the maintenance, it is the availability of the unit that makes us stand out. Furthermore, the design of the microturbines allows the user to re-power the turbine with the best performing blades on the market. We are very flexible in our designs and as a result we can answer very specific needs for clients requesting tailored services. We are manufacturing two demo turbines for PEMEX, but as volume increases, we will offer certain packages of solutions that will be standardized for the Mexican oil and gas industry. Flexibility of transport will be important, as PEMEX will want to have rigs that it can move from one site to another.” Garduño feels that the main challenges ahead for the company will be the availability of volumes and implementing the technology to fit into the operation of unmanned offshore platforms, for which it is currently developing a full communications module to monitor all of the equipment remotely.
In the long-term, Tape-SPARX is aiming to improve its technology so it can operate in more extreme environments, under higher pressure and higher temperatures, and extend the time gap between maintenance requirements, which would be in line with the nascent shift to deepwater activities in the region. Garduño is expecting his company to represent 15% of small power generation projects in the Mexican oil and gas sector in the next five years. In the shorter term, the company plans to have its demo microturbines up and running for PEMEX in the next 18 months. “For now PEMEX is more concerned with the bottom line than with the environmental impact of different solutions. However, with growing activities in deepwater, and the introduction of the carbon tax, the culture within the company is changing. One of our machines can reduce CO2 emissions by 1,000lbs a year. With these kinds of reductions, you can consider participating in the Chicago exchange greenhouse bonds market to make financial gains.”