Vergent Power and Capstone Turbine just returned from a week in the Bakken shale area. It’s simply amazing to see the level of activity brought on by shale exploration in a once quiet corner of the North Dakota prairie.
The other phenomenon we witnessed was an abundance of gas flaring. Nearly every well pad seemed to have a flare. Oil producers are under pressure to reduce or eliminate flaring from government, the media, the public, and their own pocketbooks. Gas flares not only pollute the air; they also represent a significant economic loss to the oil companies themselves. Instead of flaring, associated gas could be brought to market or used onsite to produce power in place of high-cost diesel fuel.
Microturbines are an ideal solution for flare gas, and for the Bakken area in particular. Microturbines, unlike many other power generators, can run on the rich gas found in the Bakken. In fact, microturbines can reliably and efficiently run on propane, which can have an energy content that is up to three times higher than natural gas. Because of our patented air-bearing technology and the fact that there is only one moving part in the turbine, there is only six hours of scheduled maintenance on average per year. That is a critical benefit for remote areas, and in places where labor is at a premium, as it is in North Dakota right now.
The energy companies we talked to were hungry for new solutions. Vergent Power and Capstone will also be working closely with groups such as the North Dakota Petroleum Council and the Energy and Environment Research Center to promote microturbines to as wide an audience as possible in order to get this innovative yet proven technology deployed in the Bakken.
Vergent Power is incredibly excited to be part of what we think is a fundamental shift in the approach towards flare gas in the USA.
Stay tuned for more updates on Vergent Power’s activities in the Bakken, coming soon!