What CNX and Evolution are doing promises to sharply reduce fuel costs and truck traffic, lower drilling’s environmental footprint and emissions, and make faster the setup and take-down time of hydraulic fracturing.
“Every E&P company, every fracking company, is taking a hard look at it right now,” said Joseph Triepke, founder and principal analyst of oil and gas analysis firm Infill Thinking LLC. “It’s definitely got the attention of the shale industry.”
Traditionally, hydraulic fracturing is a complicated, energy and labor-intensive process, one that requires engines that have lots of horsepower, a multitude of pipes and constant attention by workers to make sure it’s going right.
But walk around Richhill 13, or any of CNX’s other all-electric frac operations, and you’ll notice how quiet it is. That’s because instead of using diesel fuel and diesel engines to run the equipment, Evolution uses natural gas produced on site to fuel the jet engine-like turbines that power the fracking operation. Natural gas not only is plentifully available at the site, but it also removes from the roads the constant flow of diesel trucks to keep the 24/7 operation running.
“Anything you can do to keep your fuel costs down as well as reducing your carbon footprint makes good economic and environmental sense,” said David Yoxtheimer, assistant research professor at the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research at Penn State University.