It used to be that large industrial energy consumers without access to pipeline gas or electrical grids had little choice but to use diesel, propane and other crude-derived fuels — which are expensive and certainly more harmful to the environment than natural gas combustion.
Natural gas is a highly desirable alternative for these consumers. Because of plentiful volumes of shale gas in North America, the price of domestic natural gas has decoupled sharply from crude oil-derived liquid hydrocarbons. The delivered price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is significantly below diesel fuel and heating oil. This attractive price infrastructure includes the cost of natural gas, the liquefaction process, as well as operating and transportation costs.
Prometheus Energy is leading the charge to convert industrial users of diesel, propane and other crude-derived fuels to clean, domestic LNG and thereby helping users reduce fuel costs and environmental impacts.
The company was founded in 2003; however, it began focusing on developing the emerging natural gas industrial market in 2008 after recognizing increasing demand of lower cost fuel from remote industrial users. The issue of fuel availability and environmental emissions were also long-term concerns for operations.
What’s frustrating to many industrial operations, such as the drilling and mining sectors, is that while the global economy hungers for the natural resources they have to offer, taking advantage of those resources while satisfying business owners and environmentalists alike proved to be a challenge.
“It started with offering a diversity of LNG solutions to fit our customer’s specific needs whether in drilling, fracturing, mining, or industrial plant sectors,” President and CEO Jim Aivalis says. “Prometheus envisions LNG as a fuel that will go mainstream in remote applications not only because its value to customers is so obvious, but also because so many of our established fuel supply points across the United States are equipped to deliver on demand.”
After six years, Prometheus Energy has supplied and serviced more than 100 industrial applications involving projects of all types and sizes — big and small, public and private — in a variety of industries.
There have been some high profile deals in drilling and completion services, such as Apache Corporation’s LNG fuel supply platform for its dedicated gas and dual fuel drilling rigs and frac spreads, Ensign U.S. Drilling Services’ LNG-powered drilling rigs in multiple shale operations throughout the United States, and scores of similar supply deals in mine haul, process industry and remote power generation sectors.
“A lot of pent-up interest has started to develop into activity and LNG demand,” Aivalis says. “When you help customers increase their fuel savings in industries faced with increasing energy costs as well as tightening environmental standards, companies will be much more proactive in searching for new ways to improve the operation’s bottom line.”
As a pioneer in industrial LNG, the company is responsible for numerous first-of-their-kind conversions of industrial fuel consumers to LNG by providing customized turnkey solutions. Those include storage and regasification, fuel supply and complete technical operations and maintenance services.
Clearly, technology proves to be a gain for the environment and Prometheus Energy’s customers. The capital equipment costs are expansive no matter what the demand for fuels or the sector involved. Aligning with the right partners for creative input for product development is crucial in meeting demand and tough competition over every project.
Prometheus Energy’s business relationships LNG equipment suppliers play a key role in the company’s success. “Our suppliers are valuable partners in the continuous evolution of our business and the overall LNG industry,” Aivalis says.
Tapping New Resources
Natural gas is a fossil fuel and an energy source like crude oil and coal, but natural gas is not a heavy hydrocarbon and therefore produces significantly fewer pollutants.
“We expect the natural gas fuel market will continue to grow significantly in the next five to 10 years,” Aivalis says. “Our company has been growing revenue at a rate of about 40 percent a year because of the market’s strength.”
The United States is the world’s largest producer of natural gas and has natural gas reserves of 3,000 trillion cubic feet. At current consumption levels, the country can fuel its demand for the next 100 years without the need for imports, making natural gas a reliable long-term choice for industry.
Prometheus Energy serves numerous sectors, including:
- Drilling – Drill rigs are often powered by crude oil-based fuels despite being located directly over natural gas resources. Prometheus deploys mobile LNG storage and vaporization adjacent to a rig’s dedicated natural gas or dual fuel gen-set. The company is the LNG fueling supply solution for more than 800 wells in North America.
- Well Completions – Typical frac spreads employ 10-16 high horsepower hydraulic pumps, powered by 2000 to 2500 horsepower diesel engines. A typical crew will burn 10,000 to 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel over a 2 to 3 day period in order to complete 15 to 25 frac stages in order to prepare the well prior to production. Prometheus has supplied more frac spreads than anyone with LNG (six to date) and has supplied fuel to more than 2,500 stages of fracturing operations in the past 18 months.
- Industrial – Prometheus Energy converts boilers, dryers, heaters, power generators and other large industrial machines to run on natural gas instead of a crude-derived energy source.
- Mining – Mining operations consume enormous amounts of fuel for mining trucks, power shovels, haul fleets, boilers, roasters, heaters, kilns and other processing equipment. In addition, mining operations are typically in remote locations, with limited fuel options beyond crude-derived products. Prometheus Energy serves this need by providing custom-built LNG fueling solutions for mines.
“We are starting to enter new sectors, including marine, locomotive and agriculture,” Aivalis says. “We plan to manage our growth in these areas carefully as they evolve.”