LAGCOE '15: Microturbine powered ESPs lift profits

Ask anyone in the oil and gas industry what they are doing today to plan for the future and chances are maximizing high value assets and marginally producing oil and gas wells is paramount. One industry workhorse that producers continue to call upon to get the job done is the electrical submersible pump (ESP). As oil and gas executives strive to make the most of their assets, ESPs are increasingly relied upon to lift oil and profits.

With a growing number of oil wells located in remote locations, offshore, or in climates that experience extreme temperature shifts, connection to a viable and reliable surface electrical source can provide challenges – until microturbines.


Capstone microturbines can operate on pipeline or unprocessed wellhead gas.

“Accessing reliable power can be one of the biggest challenges for upstream, midstream, and downstream operations,” said Sam Henry, President of Horizon Power Systems. “Each site provides its own set of challenges, but microturbines can adapt. Since Capstone first introduced microturbines into the oil and gas market in 1998, we’ve seen just how flexible and dependable they can be. Add to that their ultra-low emissions and 99 percent availability and it’s no surprise Capstone microturbines are in use throughout the world – onshore and offshore.”

“Because time is money, operators appreciate that microturbines facilitate faster installation and commissioning,” explained Henry.

Highly reliable and rugged Capstone microturbines can operate on pipeline or unprocessed wellhead gas. Because they require little maintenance and can withstand harsh environments, they are ideal for unmanned or manned wellhead sites, offshore platforms and compressor stations.

On average, Capstone microturbines operate at 99% availability, which equates to 25 more operating days per year than a reciprocating engine (an average of 92% availability). The result is elimination of the high costs and downtime associated to power interruptions and related maintenance.

Microturbines are scalable so electrical output can be adjusted as power needs change by simply adding or reducing the number of units. Additionally, they can be easily relocated from one site to another.

“The mobility offers producers the ability to use one microturbine at a number of locations. In addition to allowing producers to shift resources quickly, this also makes the technology more cost effective because you don’t require new equipment for each site,” said Henry.

The constant load of an ESP makes a microturbine the ideal power source. Extremely fuel flexible, microturbines operate on a variety of gaseous or liquid fuels that include natural gas, associated gas, propane (LPG), diesel, landfill gas, digester gas, and flare gas.

As opposed to standard reciprocating engines, air bearing Capstone microturbines don’t require lubricants, coolants or filters, and have only one moving part. The result is significantly less maintenance and system downtime.

As air quality and emissions continue to be featured prominently in the headlines, producers tap ultra-low emission microturbines to help them achieve sustainability goals. Truly “clean-and-green,” microturbines produce clean waste heat and require no exhaust after treatment unlike many traditional power sources.

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