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A modern guide to energy needs using natural gas generators

It’s nighttime in the oil field where a mass of natural gas generators are purring like a thousand lions on a savannah. Instead of fearing for your life, you rest easy as if you don’t have a concern in the world. These generators have your back. They’re as safe and sturdy as a pair of Carhartt coveralls.

Who doesn’t want this peace of mind? Especially on complicated work sites and projects with high energy demands, where every minute impacts the bottom line. Safe, reliable equipment is a must during these lean times, so most companies opt to rent instead of own to cut costs.

Companies can also conserve money by choosing natural gas generators whenever natural gas from the wellhead, flare, pipeline or propane is available. According to Chad Wolf, Product Manager, Natural Gas Generators at Light Tower Rentals (LTR), “Typically any long term job, five days or more, will see the most cost reduction benefits from using natural gas as a fuel source.”

But selecting generators and rental companies can be a challenge unless you know your energy needs. We asked Wolf to share his insight on how to assess a company’s energy needs. He also discusses some popular natural gas generators and the issues surrounding cost of care. With over 20 years in the field, LTR is a pro when it comes to providing clients with effective energy solutions.

Assessing energy needs

Wolf encourages companies to answer the following questions to help determine their overall energy needs or load profiles.

  • Which items will be powered?
  • What are the starting and running wattage for each piece of equipment?
  • What is the total wattage power requirement (in KVA or kW) for all equipment?
  • Are there any redundant, e.g. backup, pieces of equipment? Backups should not be considered in the total load calculation as they will never run simultaneously with primary pieces of equipment.
  • Will the starting of the equipment be staggered, or will all the loads start at the same time?
  • Are the loads started via a soft start, variable frequency drive or across the line (direct) starting?
  • Are any of these items used only during certain seasons?
  • Will there be a need to add or remove equipment in the future?
  • Is there a long term need, or is this a temporary installation while waiting for a permanent solution?
  • Is this a critical application? Does redundancy need to be considered?
  • Does the site have natural gas, propane or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) available?
  • Has a gas analysis been performed? This is essential since it can affect the size of the generator. Any reputable rental company can analyze these results or refer you to a company that can collect and process the sample if needed.

Answering these questions will help companies select the correct generator based on prime output and maximum amperes rating, says Wolf. Most companies will also collect as much information as possible from the client regarding the expected load profile, which will vary by industry. According to Wolf, common questions might include: if it’s a motor, what horsepower and what will it be running, if it’s a submersible pump, what size, and amp draw.

In order to select the most suitable generator, clients should know their load profile as well as the quality of the available natural gas.

Top performing natural gas generators

Some of the most popular natural gas generators available at Light Tower Rentals are the LTR NG60, LTR NG150, LTR NG250 and LTR NG400, since they’re well suited for a variety of sites such as drilling, completion, production, compression, artificial lifts and crew camps.

LTR’s generator fleet is new and offers the PowerTrack asset management tool where LTR can remotely monitor the location and performance of equipment and run interference if maintenance is needed. “We can provide customers with real-time maintenance reports or other reports customers may need for federal and state reporting,” says Wolf.  Within PowerTrack we can create customer logins specific to their rented assets for monitoring or setting up alerts.

Proper maintenance and service saves money

Other things to keep in mind when renting natural gas generators are their maintenance and repairs.  Who performs them? Are these costs included in the rental fee, or are they add-ons? Wolf strongly encourages companies to find out how they’ll be charged for maintenance and repairs. If each equipment service translates into additional expenses, he advises against renting from that company. “I’ve seen a lot of customers choose companies without considering extra maintenance costs and potential downtimes due to substandard service. They’re now realizing that they spend a lot of money on downtime and maintenance charges that they didn’t expect.”

Wolf believes that all costs for repair and maintenance should be included in the rental price. This protects clients from budget burnout from ongoing hidden costs. Wolf says, “We provide our customers with significant value and security because we concentrate on making sure our equipment is running at optimal performance to reduce downtime, which in the long-run affords considerable savings for the customer.” LTR offers an up-time report card that can show the client the actual reliability that they are experiencing.

Wolf feels strongly that rental companies should deliver immediate customer service as well as perform all the equipment maintenance themselves. It’s the only way to ensure equipment quality. “LTR does all delivery, startup, maintenance, and removal. We have an extensive database of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that guide each and every move we make,” he says.

When generators and a reliable rental company have your back, you’ll never have to worry again about misbehaving equipment or downtimes. You’ll be able to rest easy for the many nights and days to come because you have your Carhartt coveralls on the job.

For more information on choosing the perfect natural gas generator for your job, contact Chad or any other professional at Light Tower Rentals.

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