Baker Hughes converts hydraulic fracturing units to bifuel pumps

Posted on 26 November 2012

Baker Hughes has converted a fleet of its Rhino hydraulic fracturing units to bifuel pumps as a way to improve operational efficiency, lower costs and reduce health, safety and environmental impacts.

The new pumps use a mixture of natural gas and diesel, reducing diesel use by up to 65% with no loss of hydraulic horsepower. The converted fleet, which meets all US Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards, can also reduce a number of emissions, including nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and particulate matter.

Baker Hughes first converted a small fleet of its units in Canada. When results there were successful, the company decided to convert an entire fleet in the US. The company is in the process of converting several more fleets of Rhino trucks to Rhino Bifuel equipment. Additionally, Baker Hughes has a test program in Oklahoma, where a number of light-duty vehicles have been converted to natural gas.

“Baker Hughes has seen excellent results with this initiative,” Mike Davis, Baker Hughes’ president of pressure pumping for US land. “The environmental benefits are significant. We’re reducing emissions from the engines driving the stimulation pumps and less fuel is needed to keep our pumps going. In addition, this has the added value of improving job site safety by eliminating re-fueling demands during operations.”

Using the converted Rhino Bifuel units, Baker Hughes recently completed a hydraulic fracturing job in the Eagle Ford Shale for Cheyenne Petroleum Co. Cheyenne was interested in using some of the converted units given the potential savings by cutting diesel consumption, as well as the long-term reduction in emissions. Baker Hughes was able to pump 35 stages using three of the converted Rhinos during each stage. Throughout the job, Baker Hughes saw a 65% substitution (diesel fuel was replaced with liquefied natural gas) rate with no loss of horsepower. By substituting natural gas into the converted diesel engine, the bifuel alternative can operate twice as long as engines running solely with the on-board diesel.

“The use of the converted Rhino Bifuel units was transparent during the job,” Greg Presley, senior operations engineer for Cheyenne Petroleum, said.  “The job pumped the same as a 100% diesel job with many environmental benefits.”

Rhino is a trademark of Baker Hughes.

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