Seneca/Ensign rigs switch to LNG for power in Marcellus

Posted on 29 November 2012

Two of GE’s Jenbacher J320 turbocharged natural gas engines are powering the first LNG-fueled drilling rigs in Pennsylvania.

To reduce environmental impact and improve the economic performance of US unconventional gas production activities, Seneca Resources Corp and Ensign Drilling have installed two GE gas engines to power the first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fueled drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale. Seneca converted the power plants of two existing diesel-powered rigs to use LNG in GE’s 1-megawatt Jenbacher J320 turbocharged natural gas engines. The Jenbacher units were combined with Ensign Drilling-designed rig packages to provide the electricity needed by each rig. The J320 represents GE’s first US Environmental Protection Agency-certified technology for mobile and stationary drilling applications.

In October, Seneca Resources and Ensign Drilling converted their first rig, which is operating in Lycoming County, Pa. The second rig was converted to LNG in November and was assigned to Seneca’s Marcellus Shale gas leases in Forest, Elk, Jefferson and McKean counties.

“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.

Ensign Drilling operates 15 drilling rigs exclusively on natural gas in the US, with 11 of them exclusively using GE’s Jenbacher gas engines. The latest project with Seneca Resources underscores the industry’s increased deployment of more efficient and cleaner on-site power solutions. Powering a drilling rig with natural gas instead of diesel can result in up to 60% lower fuel costs, GE believes.

“Our fuel-flexible Jenbacher gas engine technology offers customers lower-emission, on-site power generating capabilities, making it ideally suited to support Seneca Resources and Ensign Drilling’s LNG initiative that will serve as a model for other operators in the Marcellus Shale region,” said Roger George, North America general manager – gas engines for GE.

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