Apache Noel Project

CASE STUDIES

Apache Noel Project

Overview

The TEGs work really well, I'm very impressed. I check them every year and as long as we maintain them I'm sure they'll last forever – or at least for the life of the well, which is 30-40 years. Roland Giroux,
Maintenance Electrician, Apache

The Situation

Apache selected a TEG/SolarHybrid, (photovoltaic system combined with thermoelectric generators) as the best solution to resolve their site situation. The Noel well site in British Columbia was designed and managed by a large oil and gas company before it came under Apache's ownership in 2010. The site was significant as it represented the first new green field gas development in Canada in many years. It was innovative in that it applied a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for its well sites. Traditional well site design uses high-pressure gas from the wellhead for emergency shutdown valves, pressure control valves and chemical injection pumps. In this case, solar electricity would be generated on site and stored in batteries providing a permanent energy supply.

Roland Giroux is very familiar with the system as he was the maintenance electrician for the company's sub-stations when gas first pumped out of Node 3 in 2009. He maintains this role today with Apache. He said the company's commitment to maintaining a zero emissions site was one aspect that attracted him to Apache for employment.

The Challenge

CH2M Hill was the engineering firm chosen to lead the project. They were in support of the zero emission goal but didn't want to sacrifice reliability of mission critical equipment by using photovoltaic systems exclusively. They knew a pure photovoltaic system created risk of power interruption during the winter months when shorter daylight hours, dense cloud, shadowed terrain and snow cover interfered with battery charging. They approached Gentherm Global Power Technologies* for a solution that involved integrating thermoelectric generators into the system creating solar hybrids.

Gentherm Global Power Technologies'* (GPT) Solution

The Noel project had 140 wells, three compressor stations, 260 kilometres of pipeline and a 138 kV power line. To maintain the integrity of the environmental goals, GPT supplied 31, model 5220 thermoelectric generators (TEGs) and long life AGM batteries. Based on GPT's design recommendations, CH2M Hill procured the supply of BP140 watt solar panels. Controllers in the GLOBALSolarHybrids were custom designed to monitor the battery bank's state of charge and automatically turn generators on when battery levels drained below a set point. As long as the battery system stayed above that level, and the PV array delivered enough energy to the load, the generators would remain off. When operational, the generators would deliver enough energy to keep the load fed and recharge the PV battery bank. GPT's hybrid system is pre-engineered and pre-integrated to provide robust performance by optimizing PV absorption while ensuring that the TEG waiting in standby mode is ready to turn on and provide full power when necessary, especially during the cold and snow laden winter months. This configuration not only achieves significant fuel savings but also a bulletproof 24-7 remote power generation system. When asked about the system today Roland Giroux says, "The TEGs work really well, I'm very impressed. I check them every year and as long as we maintain them I'm sure they'll last forever – or at least for the life of the well, which is 30-40 years." Bruce Arneson, Manager of Instrumentation and Controls at CH2M Hill was directly involved in the decision making process for the GLOBALSolarHybrids onsite and commonly recommends these products for pipeline projects. He said, "Our clients are focusing on minimal impact to the environment. Obviously, solar has zero impact but it's not practical to go with a solar-only solution in some regions, particularly the north. The marriage of the two technologies minimizes the impact on the environment and maintains a reliable power source for critical equipment."

Results

Apache still maintains the environmental, social and financial benefits from the design of this innovative well site today. Had the project team employed a traditional well site design, it could have resulted in the use of 10,000 E3m3 of natural gas, which is equivalent to 132 kT of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The Noel design has the impact equivalent of removing 24,000 cars from the road each year. This project has been recognized by environmental awards and written about positively in the media for its innovative approach. GPT's generators played a role in this environmentally significant project and for that, the company and employees involved in Noel project, are very proud.

For additional information on GLOBALSolarHybrids and solar Hybrid retrofits,  visit the How It Works, Value Analysis and Applications pages.

*Formerly Global Thermoelectric

Gentherm Global Power Technologies*(GPT)  Remote power products are designed for a minimum 20-year service life.


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*Formerly:
 Global Thermoelectric