How Technology is Changing the Natural Gas and Oil Industry

As technology continues to advance and develop, industries are learning to adapt and prosper. The oil and gas industry has used technology to change business and operations. As new devices and innovations continue to develop, the industry becomes more efficient and productive. Check out the latest tech trends in the oil and gas industry:

Intelligent Hydrate Platform

One product shaping the industry is a device that manages gas hydrates with real-time intelligence. The device can enable the digital transformation of the oilfield. Because gas hydrates are so imperative to the safety and environment of hydrocarbons in deep and cold offshore locations, it’s important to have such a device to manage it efficiently and effectively. This device is also very cost-effective.

Lift-Scan

It’s important on any oil and gas site to have productive on and offloading. A gaming-changing device set to revolutionize the industry is the lift-scan. The lift-scan is a crane with a crane block camera with the ability to perform deck scanning for more efficient loading. The product will also allow for hands-free communication for the first time and real-time visibility of the operator. Productivity will increase through the use of this device and offer better safety features for offshore sectors.

Polyurethane Foam Flex (PUFF)

When disaster strikes on gas and oil rigs, it can be deadly serious for workers and the environment. If there were to be an oil spill of any kind, PUFF is the most practical, quick, and effective method for adsorbing hydrocarbons. It has the ability to absorb up to about 30 times its weight different kinds of hydrocarbons, such as 10w40 oil, light, and heavy fuel oils. In about two minutes, the material saturates, can be wrung out, and recovers pure hydrocarbons without water. PUFF can also be reused over 100 times, allowing the recovery of about three tonnes of oils. Best of all, it is not harmful to marine or human health.

Humans and Machines

As technology continues to advance in the oil and gas industry, devices and humans are becoming co-workers. Technology isn’t being developed to replace workers, but instead, help to enhance their abilities to perform. In a more digital workplace, oil and gas companies are transforming into greater productive and fast-moving organizations. Technology will improve and revolutionize the industry.

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What Exactly Are Microgrids?

A microgrid is an energy module within a larger power source and can be disconnected from the main grid as needed. Microgrids are being used in various settings to create redundancy, to expand services in underserved locations and to model potential hazards of planned operations.

Key Features of Microgrids

Microgrids share a number characteristics, regardless of their exact configuration.

Energy Storage

Microgrids are hardware independent and their exact configuration can vary based on factors such as location and available resources. The most common type of energy stored is electricity but microgrids can be used to store thermal or mechanical energy if needed.

Electronic Configuration

Microgrids frequently feature assets like solar power or microturbines. The use of variable power sources requires interfaces that can harness and convert energy types.

Most distributed energy sources lose power when they are converted to another type of energy. Microgrids are configured with interfaces that minimize power loss, thus helping to conserve energy and to minimize the cost of providing electricity.

Efficiency Requirements

To achieve maximum efficiency, a microgrid must meet the following functional specifications.

  • Each microgrid must be able to function as a unified entity to properly interface with the main power grid.
  • Each grid must remain within its own power requirements and cannot borrow power from the main grid or from adjoining microgrids.
  • The microgrid must be able to regulate its own voltage and frequency internally.
  • Each unit must be able to deploy resources as needed to maintain energy output requirements.
  • A microgrid must be able to safely connect and reconnect with the main power grid during synchronization operations.

Implementation of Microgrids

Microgrids are often used in water treatment plants, transportation units and health care facilities. Their ability to create redundancy and failover make microgrids an indispensable part of technologies that are employed in mission-critical and time-sensitive operations.

Microgrids provide fault tolerance, bring energy to diverse geographic locations and offer a means to create alternative power sources. These features make microgrids an important solution that offers an opportunity to underserved locations and that promises to promote sustainability for our planet.

The Use of Oil in Big Industry

Crude oil use by the U.S. industrial manufacturers has been consistent since the economic crisis of 2008; though, the usage level is wholly lower than before the economic crisis. In place of crude oil, natural gas increasingly constitutes a greater proportion of total fuel consumption by the U.S. Industrial sector, specifically manufacturing. While natural gas constitutes an increasing proportion of total fuel consumption, crude oil (HGL) represents the largest share of energy sources used as components of manufacturing at almost 50%. Crude oil in particular is commonly used to make plastics and other chemicals. Petroleum products (counted as “other”) account for a third of energy source use as manufacturing components — raw materials in a manufacturing process. Total crude oil and related products constitute a large majority of the quarter of total energy sources first used as a manufacturing component. Regardless of use as manufacturing components or as energy, the largest consumer of energy sources are the chemical, refining, and mining industries. These three industries account for more than half of the total energy consumption by industrial manufacturers. This means there is some competition between using energy sources for energy or for manufacturing processes.

Energy consumption in the manufacturing industry was estimated in 2016 to be about 75% by the USEIA. Natural gas has markedly seen increasing use. Consumption has steadily increased from 2010 to 2014. This reveals increases in natural gas usage as potentially negatively affecting crude oil usage growth trends over the same time period.

Energy generation on-site is a common practice by manufacturers as an alternative to purchasing energy. One prominent method of producing energy on-site is combined heat and power loops. Natural gas and coal constitute a substantial portion of on-site consumed energy at 96%, and renewables constitute 1%. Crude oil does not constitute substantial use for on-site energy generation by manufacturers. This means that crude oil is used for energy production off-site, and energy produced from the crude oil is then distributed to manufacturers in the industrial sector.

Overall, crude oil use by the U.S. Industrial sector has remained steady in the last few decades besides significant decreases in consumption during the 2008 economic crisis. The potential growth of crude oil appears to be stunted by the increasing use of natural gas.

The Oil Drilling Process

The Oil Drilling Process _ Blake Zimmerman
Oil drilling has become quite the hot topic in recent years. Many people have opinions on the process and use of the natural resource, but few understand how the process actually works.

Crude oil and natural gas are created when plankton die, fall to the sea floor, are trapped in sediment, and then undergo immense pressure and heat through millennia of accumulating debris. The oil and gas become trapped in porous rock (known as reservoir rock) surrounded by impervious rock (known as cap rock).

Geologists look for signs of these conditions in order to discover new reservoirs. They may look at satellite images and collect surface samples to start. When oil flows it creates slight disruptions in the Earth’s gravitational and magnetic fields, which sensitive magnetometers and gravity meters can pick up on. Petroleum also produces a distinct smell, which electronic noses can pick up on if they’re sensitive enough. Lastly seismologists create vibrations in the earth to locate potential sites.

Once a site is located, the oil company gets any permissions required, checks the environmental impact, clears the surrounding arlliea according to regulation guidelines, and gets started. A blowout preventer is used to close off the hole in an emergency.

Drilling is done in stages, with each stage using a progressively smaller drill. The first stage of drilling is usually done before the rig is set up, using a truck equipped for the purpose. As they drill, drill mud is pumped into the hole to expel the cut bits of rock from the hole, allowing the drill to continue unimpeded. The mud also serves to cool the drill and to keep the hole from caving in on itself. As the drill goes deeper, new segments of pipe are added back at the rig. When the desired depth is reached, the drill then pulls out and is replaced by casing. Cement is then pumped down the hole, expelling the mud and holding the casing in place.

Once the reservoir is reached and the well is deep enough, a perforating gun pokes holes in the casing and a tube is snaked through. A packer is used to seal the outside of the tubing and a Christmas tree (another device) is placed on top to control the well’s output. Special fluid containing acid or proppants is then used to dissolve the reservoir rock, allowing the trapped petroleum to flow. And with that, the job is done.

This article was originally posted on BlakeZimmermanHouston.com on June 12, 2019.

The Differences Between Natural Gas and Oil

The Differences Between Natural Gas and Oil _ Blake Zimmerman

Natural gas and oil have a great deal in common, but many people don’t know what the differences are between them. Both are hydrocarbons that are formed from the remains of dead plants and animals over the course of millennia. A hydrocarbon is a molecule that contains hydrogen and carbon. Both oil and gas are forms of energy that are non-renewable. Oil and gas are both lighter than water, which is normally found in rock formations. Therefore, they are pushed upwards until they collect in reservoirs.

Economic Differences

Economically, oil and natural gas have always had a close relationship. Companies involved in oil are frequently also involved in natural gas. While drilling for oil, it’s common to discover natural gas reserves. Consumers historically have gone switched from one to the other as prices have changed. In more recent years, natural gas has come down in price due to discoveries of new reserves.

Molecular Differences

Natural gas and oil differ on a molecular level, despite the fact that they are both hydrocarbons. Oil is highly viscous and dense, while natural gas is the opposite. Natural gas is made up of mostly methane, which is the simplest hydrocarbon. This is actually advantageous because it makes it easier to process and refine for use commercially. Oil, on the other hand, is composed of complex hydrocarbons. Different oil deposits will have a different chemical make-up, which is difficult when it comes to refining. Unlike natural gas, obviously, oil is a liquid at room temperature. However, its viscosity can vary greatly.

Application Differences

Oil and natural gas also differ when it comes to the way they are used. Natural gas is used more often for heating, generating power, and industrial purposes. Oil is used for gasoline, fuel oil, asphalt, as well as the production of various products like plastic. Gas is a great choice as a fuel source since it gives off a great deal of light and heat. However, unlike other fuels like coal and oil, it doesn’t give off smoke and burns much brighter and cleaner. Gas is also safer, more reliable to transport, and generally more environmentally-friendly. While both oil and gas are used for heating, it’s cheaper to rely on natural gas. This has led to natural gas winning out when it comes to general industrial usage.

Originally posted on BlakeZimmermanHouston.com on May 15, 2019.

Breaking Down Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

Breaking Down Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) | Blake Zimmerman

Liquefied Natural Gas, commonly known as LNG, has recently resurged as a popular news topic as officials seek more profitable and efficient ways to transport and export natural gas. The process was invented in the 19th century, but has become a topic of conversation in recent years as U.S. natural gas production increased.

Breaking Down the LNG Process

Liquefied Natural Gas is exactly what it sounds like: natural gas transformed into a liquid state. The process is completed by cooling natural gas to -260° Fahrenheit and then storing it in cryogenic containers for shipping. Liquefied Natural Gas is approximately 600 times smaller in volume than natural gas, enabling companies to import or export more natural gas with less space. Designated import/export terminals have been built that liquify the natural gas before exporting and regasify the liquid when importing or storing it until needed.

A Brief History of LNG

Liquifying natural gas is the most efficient way to transport the resource to destinations that need it but cannot be reached by or support natural gas pipelines. LNG is most commonly shipped on ocean tankers that contain extremely cold cryogenic tanks. The liquefaction process occurs at the export terminal before being transported and is then reverted back to its gaseous state at the import terminal.

The U.S. has only recently become one of the key players in LNG exports, thanks to increasing supplies of natural gas and expanded export terminals. For awhile, the U.S. relied rather heavily on LNG imports. Beginning in 1995, the United States starting importing larger and larger quantities of LNG. The import of the gas increased rapidly until 2007 when it peaked at 771 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Now, the United States exports over 700 Bcf of Liquefied Natural Gas to 28 countries, though it still imports LNG to areas whose pipelines and storage capacity are limited.

Natural gas is an incredibly important energy source both stateside and all around the world. In the U.S. alone, natural gas accounts for almost a third of primary energy and is the source of heating fuel for about half of all households. LNG gives the United States the ability to supply natural gas to areas that do not have functioning pipelines or the ability to store the substance long-term.


This post was originally published on BlakeZimmermanHouston.com on April 16, 2019.