Squeezing Value continued
Each application is tailored to the extent of selecting appropriate lubricants and additional auxiliary systems appropriate to the particular climatic conditions.
Efficient operations also depend on effective controls and automation with Siemens offering a full suite of remote monitoring and diagnostic systems that includes predictive analytics. Rickert explained: “We have a large fleet of gas turbines operating around the world and so we’re able to leverage all that data through our analytics systems to better predict future events.”
He cites a potential example where a bearing failure is preceded perhaps a month previously by a temperature increase of just a few degrees, a subtle leading indicator of an impending failure. Rickert said: “You have hundreds of data points that are coming in, so it’s a matter of going back and building a model around analysing all of those different data points and how they interact that enables us to predict future failure modes.”
All of the major OEMs are exploring advanced analytics, big data and greater computational and networking power. Rickert emphasises the effect on the front line of operational reliability. “That way we can take an unplanned maintenance event and turn it into a planned maintenance event.”
Service agreements are also available from Siemens Services offering remote diagnostics as well as the analysis and remote monitoring. “Siemens has provided TransCanada with customer care services for many years and offers support to its approximately 160 aeroderivative gas turbines operating today,” said Patrice Laporte, Vice President, Oil & Gas for Siemens North America.
Rickert further noted: “With customer agreement we also have the ability to remote-in and access the engine. For example, in the event of a shut-down Siemens engineers would be able to remote-in and see the same screens as the control center operations staff are seeing on site. It allows you to quickly trouble-shoot any issues to get our customers back up and running.”
With gas lines typically stretching untold miles across sometimes inhospitable terrain, remote operations functionality of distant compression stations is a significant boon for operators.
Dynamic market prompts expansion
According to World Energy Outlook analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA), a sea change in the global oil and gas trade has occurred with the surge in output from North American tight – or shale – gas and oil, in particular within the United States.
The surge in oil and gas production from shale, dramatic declines in the cost of renewables and growing electrification are key drivers, the IEA argues, noting that over the next 25 years the world’s growing energy needs will increasingly be met by renewables and natural gas.
Meanwhile, from a historical position as a massive importer of hydrocarbons, the USA has become a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in just a decade and by the mid-2020s, the IEA analysis suggests, the country is projected to become the world’s largest LNG exporter. Already having a profound impact on global trade, challenging incumbent suppliers and accelerating a major structural shift towards a more flexible and globalized gas market, shale gas is also provoking a major reorientation of gas transmission requirements with more emphasis on LNG. This analysis is supported by Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest Global LNG Outlook 2018 report. LNG allows gas to be traded more easily as a commodity and BNEF concludes that demand for LNG will set a new record this year on the back of 7.2% growth.
Matthew Rickert, the Texas-based Director of Business Development for Gas Turbines at Siemens Energy, explained the impact this shift is having on the demand for gas transmission pipeline capacity. “There’s a lot of new pipelines being built, primarily due to the recent shale gas discoveries. There’s a lot more gas in the system. You have to figure out how to transport it from point A to point B. As a result they need more pipelines and upgrades to the existing network to handle the additional gas.”
Rickert also emphasised the impact of the US on the gas pipeline market. He said: “Especially in the US, shale has really caused a lot of disruption in the network so many pipelines that were heading into the North East region are now turning the other direction to ship the gas out to LNG export facilities.”
He further highlighted the impact of the clean energy transition, saying: “You’re seeing more of the world moving away from coal fired plants and moving towards gas fired plants, more countries are looking to move into that natural gas area, we’re seeing a lot more pipelines being built in order to feed those power plants.”
While the US shale gas revolution has battered global gas prices, Canada is expanding its shale gas production too, along with new transmission infrastructure that can support its export to market.
The USA has been the traditional market for Canadian gas, but the rapid reduction in US demand has spurred interest in developing Canadian LNG exports. In a study from July 2017, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) observed that Canada is a late entrant to the global LNG market but that the next several years will be critical to its development. For instance, there are 24 LNG export projects currently planned in Canada, the bulk of which are along the west coast of British Columbia. Only one has reached a final investment decision so far, but gas pipeline expansion projects are nonetheless moving forward.
Compressor station outlook
Currently gas transmission compressor stations are designed around a fairly standard power block size. This allows tenders to typically open for multiple OEM vendors, improving the competitiveness of the offering. However, Rickert also notes a trend towards larger compressor power units that enable such stations to be placed further apart. This means more horsepower, fewer compression stations, higher efficiency and less civil works, etc.
This is a point picked up on by Rickert, who said: “In general, customers want to select the largest turbine available because that reduces the number of overhauls required and typically larger gas turbines do have a higher efficiency than smaller gas turbines and both of those factors lead to lower operating costs.”
He notes that Siemens’ latest SGT- 750 has been launched in a mechanical drive configuration and is available up to 41 MW. The first gas compression units are currently being installed for a pipeline project in Mexico and are set for commissioning this year.
Looking ahead, alongside the requirement for increasing horsepower, Rickert points to growing demand for digitalization. “We have all this data coming off these units and packages and our customers are asking: ‘how can we use that data to benefit our operations?’”
He points to the need for a more integrated, holistic approach to data management and analysis. “Our equipment is at the core of these stations, but there’s also all sorts of other equipment at these plants. All these systems have digital signals that are coming off of them. We want to go that next step and be able to build a predictive model around the plant and all of the equipment that’s at that site. Bringing all that information together to help minimize site downtime is one of the areas that we’re seeing a lot of movement towards,” Rickert concludes.
A recent analysis of the Duvernay region of Alberta alone determined a potential of nearly 77 Tcf of marketable gas. As Canada consumes about 3.1 tcf of natural gas per year, the Duvernay Shale’s gas resources is equivalent to nearly 25 years of Canada’s annual consumption. And with nearly 1100 tcf of total remaining natural gas resource there are about 350 years of Canadian supply waiting to be recovered and delivered to markets. Such an endeavour will evidently require a significant expansion of gas transmission infrastructure and associated elements elements such as
compressor stations. ■
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