Canadian plant to feed engines with LNG

A pair of Canadian companies will build a plant to produce liquefied natural gas specifically for high-horsepower engines used in trains, trucks and oil field equipment, the companies said.

The step adds to other recent advancements for natural gas use in Canada, where a Canadian National Railway test locomotive is running on the fuel.

Encana Corp., a leading Canadian producer of natural gas, and Ferus LNG, announced this month they are building a plant to support growing use of natural gas by high horsepower engines like those used in trucks, trains, and oil field equipment.

The plant will produce 190,000 liters per day of liquefied natural gas, or about 50,193 gallons, the companies said.

They expected the plant, to be located in Alberta, will be completed by the end of 2013.

The facility will convert natural gas into fuels that can be used by surrounding industries, including oil companies at nearby fields.

Locomotives, like the one running on natural gas in Canada, would be able to use the fuel, the companies said. The most significant use would come from oil field services, including pressure pumps used in hydraulic fracturing and drilling rigs at well sites. Both operations could use LNG as a fuel to power activities, according to Encana and Ferus LNG.

LNG has gained interest as a substitute for heavy users of diesel, primarily because of its dramatically lower price and similar performance.

Natural gas costs about 30 percent to 40 percent less for the energy equivalent of a diesel gallon of fuel. Encana alone, in switching some of its drilling operations from diesel to natural gas, saved more than $11 million in 2011.

“LNG is quickly becoming the fuel of choice for (high horsepower) engines in both highway and off-road applications in North America,” said Eric Marsh, executive vice president of Encana Corporation. “This project demonstrates the increasing viability of LNG as a fuel alternative for a wide range of industries. With this new LNG plant, Encana and Ferus LNG are meeting a growing market demand by helping diesel consumers in northern and western Canada make the switch to cleaner-burning natural gas to both save costs and reduce their emissions.”

Diesel producers maintain that, despite the price advantage for natural gas for the most fuel intensive users, diesel will continue to be regarded as a dependable, energy efficient and productive power source.