Saturday, May 25, 2013

Energy Game Changer

As I said earlier, I spent last week in Ohio performing HAZOPs on gas pipeline compressor stations. The pipeline system consisted of 4 large diameter (24" - 36") pipelines with compressor stations having about 50,000 HP of compression. The big Cooper Bessemer integral compressors in these stations have been mashing gas for 50 years or more moving it from the south to the north. The operator now plans to reverse the flow and send gas south where it will be liquified, put on LNG tankers and sent overseas.

How is this possible, you ask.

First - The Marcellus Shale
Second - Fracking

Warning: geology geekness have porosity. Some rocks are more porous than others. Most of the oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico comes from sandstones which are porous and have good permeability. Shale are not porous and, in the past, oil and gas found in shale was ignored as being too expensive to recover. Then came fracking. Fracking cracks the rocks along cleavage planes which provides passages for oil and gas to flow to the well bore.

The Marcellus Shale is a massive formation that is in New York and eastern Ohio. It is estimated that it contains over 260 Trillion cubic feet of gas. It has made the northeast almost self sufficient in natural gas. With no need to supply gas to the northeast, this pipeline operator is looking to export the excess. Fracking has been a game changer in the energy market in the northeast.

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