Anadarko works to phase in natural gas powered rigs and fracking fleets

January 4, 2018. Anadarko Petroleum is phasing in natural gas powered drilling rigs and hydraulic fracturing fleets, which are not only more environmentally friendly but easier on the ears ­— a chief complaint of residents living near drilling sites.

   "When we saw the benefit on the noise side and then also realized the emissions that we were reducing it was an easy choice to start extending it throughout our drilling and frac fleets," said Anadarko Drilling Manager, Kris Honas.

   In May, Honas said the company "fell into the very first rig" when the only one Precision Drilling had to offer that fit their needs ran on natural gas. It had two gas generators, which Honas said elicited some "growing pains" in getting the rig operating smoothly. Once they worked out the kinks the company has operated with them since.

   We "now love the benefits offered by the gas generators," Honas said. The benefits also have not come at the cost of the typical performance and reliability of traditional generators.

   As of now, only one of Anadarko's six rigs in the DJ Basin runs completely on natural gas. The majority of rigs are diesel because natural gas has only in the past decade become an economical and dependable fuel. Switching over to 100 percent natural gas rigs and fleets can take time because they must be built from the ground up.

   However, with the help of a third party, they can finance to have the diesel generators converted to run off of natural gas most of the time. Bi-fuel technology, as it's called, uses diesel when a rig is on a low load or idling and then switches to natural gas when it needs more energy, explains Honas.

   Anadarko also converted a frac spread to bi-fuel operations in the summer, according to the corporate communications team. About 40 percent of diesel fuel across several completion pads was replaced with natural gas during pumping operations, cutting down on CO2 emissions by about 7,000 metric tons.