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Natural gas vital to the future of reliable, independent energy mix

The new climate change rule for transitioning power plants calls for a direct transition from coal to renewables. The rule fails to mention the large role that natural gas plays in providing a reliable energy mix and as a bridge to a lower carbon emitting future. Natural gas is central to meeting American energy needs due to its abundance, low cost and efficiency.


Benefits of natural gas

The benefits of using natural gas reach far and wide. Natural gas is more environmentally friendly than other fossil fuels. It’s “cleaner” than coal when burned, emitting half the amount of carbon dioxide. According to the American Gas Association, “In most applications, using natural gas produces less of the following substances than oil or coal: carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the primary greenhouse gas; sulfur dioxide, which is the primary precursor of acid rain; nitrogen oxides, which is the primary precursor of smog; and particulate matter, which can affect health and visibility; than oil or coal. Using natural gas to replace less environmentally benign fuels can help address simultaneously a number of environmental concerns, such as smog, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions.” Using natural gas contributes to a healthier planet.

Natural gas is reliable because it doesn’t depend on variable weather conditions like solar and wind do. As reported in The Hill, Frank Macchiarola, the top lobbyist for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, said “The fact is that for a diverse fuel supply, you’re going to need both out into the future. The likely scenario is that natural gas will be part of the long term picture because wind and solar are intermittent power sources.” It is prudent to have a range of energy sources available since they behave differently, and American energy needs are unlikely to decrease in the near future.

Natural gas’s reliability makes it a beneficial addition to the energy mix for a variety of applications including electricity, industry and heating. Other applications include using natural gas as a raw material to make lightweight cars, wind power blades and solar panels, according to the American Gas Association. It’s also used to create fertilizer for ethanol and methane for hydrogen, which eradicates amorphous carbons for a cleaner diesel fuel.

Natural gas is abundant in America. According to The American Gas Foundation, “There is enough natural gas in the US to last for more than 100 years. There are about 2.4 million miles of pipelines that carry the gas safely and reliably from where it’s produced to homes and businesses. Natural gas is a clean, more efficient and more affordable American energy.”  This means it increases American self-sufficiency which has far reaching repercussions.

Natural gas can attain a 92 percent efficiency rate since it requires fewer processing steps along its full-fuel-cycle (the journey from production to consumption) when compared to other energy sources. The processing of other energy sources involves many steps that cause energy loss along the way, resulting in as little as 40 percent efficiency or lower.


Natural gas generator. Photo courtesy Light Tower Rentals.

Natural gas in the field

Oil and gas operators have an intimate understanding of the value of natural gas, especially since it’s a common byproduct of oil production. Unfortunately, operators are not always able to capture it, resulting in flaring. According to The World Bank, “Thousands of gas flares at oil production sites around the globe burn approximately 140 cubic meters of natural gas annually, causing more than 300 million tons of CO2 to be emitted to the atmosphere.”  In light of this, The World Bank is calling for “zero routine flaring” by 2030, which excludes non-routine flaring as well as flaring for safety reasons.

Many states echo these sentiments and have issued policies regarding gas flaring. Despite this, gas flaring is still an ongoing issue in most shale plays. As of January 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requires implementation of “green completions,” technologies that encapsulate noxious emissions, by well operators. It is in the best of interest of oil and gas producers to harness natural gas for sale or for their own energy purposes. Light Tower Rentals, a well-site rental equipment and service provider for oil and gas operators, understands firsthand how to use natural gas to power necessary equipment.

Most operators opt for equipment that runs off natural gas because benefits are twofold – they can cut costs while meeting regulations. According to Chad Wolf, Product Manager, Natural Gas Generators at Light Tower Rentals (LTR), “Typically any long term job, five days or more, will see the most cost reduction benefits from using natural gas as a fuel source.”

LTR’s late model fleet of highly reliable mobile natural gas generators provide a convenient alternative to reduce flaring as well as the added benefit of reducing fuel costs and eliminating the need to transport or store fuel on site.  With LTR’s vast fleet and the ability to parallel these units together they can size a generator to the producer’s exact needs for anything from a 25-hours power transfer pump to high horse power down hole pumps to even powering micro or island grids to power entire fields. LTR prides itself in adding value to the producer through their highly trained staff that handle all mobilization, maintenance and support and through the LTR PowerTrackSM asset management tool, an intuitive remote monitoring system which produces real time alerts and reports to mitigate downtime and assist with required regulatory reporting.

For more information about generator rentals, contact Chad Wolf at Light Tower Rentals at cwolf@LTR.com or visit the Light Tower Rentals website.

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