General Electric’s (NYSE: GE) Jenbacher natural gas engines will be featured in the first-ever liquefied natural gas-powered drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale, courtesy of a joint decision by energy developer Seneca Resources and its drilling partner, Ensign Drilling.
The power plants of two current diesel-fueled rigs were converted by Seneca to make use of LNG via GE’s 1-MW Jenbacher J320 turbocharged engines. Alongside Ensign’s rig packages, the units can power both drilling rigs.
Of note is the fact that the J320 units are GE’s first effort at technology for drilling rigs—mobile or stationary—that carries U.S. EPA certification.
The first rig conversion occurred back in October in Lycoming County, Pa. The second conversion took place this month.
“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.
Overall, 11 of Ensign’s 15 drilling rigs focused on natural gas within the U.S. rely on GE’s Jenbacher engines. The use of such engines can mean fuel costs up to 60 percent lower, and of course it’s a cleaner solution.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that almost half of domestic natural gas will be sourced from unconventional reserves by 2035. The ongoing abundant production of natural gas—mostly from shale reserves—has resulted in deeply lowered gas prices, which makes it a viable alternative to conventional fuels in a wide range of applications.
Seneca is a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company (NYSE: NFG).