LPP Combustion demonstrates gas capture technology in the Bakken

By Patrick C. Miller | October 08, 2014

Richard Roby, CEO of LPP Combustion LLC, admits that selling Bakken oil producers on his company’s gas capture technology is a difficult task.

He described the typical reaction as: “We’ve heard this story before. Other people have told us they could bring in this engine that could run on the natural gas. We bought one of them and three months later, it was deader than a doornail.”

That’s why LPP Combustion took the unusual step of trucking one of its units and sending some of its engineers all the way from the company’s headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, to western North Dakota. Using Bakken Y Grade crude, they’ve spent most of the past week demonstrating the LPP (Lean, Premixed, Prevaporized) liquid fuels combustion technology to interested parties.

“We were in Tioga on Monday and demonstrated to a couple of different companies there,” said Sylvan Melroe, a consultant to LPP Combustion. “It’s going very well.”

Although Melroe couldn’t divulge any information about who attended the demonstrations, he related a question he received: “How fast can I get one?”

“When a guy asks a question like that, I guess he’s interested,” he chuckled.

Melroe said that for now, LPP Combustion will leave its demonstration unit in North Dakota and is planning to run more demonstrations in the Bakken during the week of Oct. 20.

LPP Combustion sells or rents a unit consisting of a gas turbine and a skid-mounted fuel conditioning system which takes flared gas or NGLs, vaporizes them and blends them with nitrogen to create gas that’s burned in a turbine to generate electricity.

“We can make those liquid fuels work in gas turbines and other combustion devices as cleanly as if they’re burning natural gas,” said Roby, who has more than 35 years of experience in combustion, energy emissions and power production.

The company began its North Dakota tour last Friday with a demonstration in Fargo at North Dakota State University. Roby, co-inventor of the LPP technology, explained the process and why it should be of interest to producers in the Bakken facing increasingly strict state regulations on gas flaring.

“Typically, diesel fuel is being used to power operations in the Bakken. It cost about $5 a gallon delivered,” Roby said. “You put a significant premium on even the market price of diesel fuel. We can reduce the fuel waste and pollution. We can also create an economic value for the drillers, for the operators and for the oil producers because we can give them power to run their operations.”

In addition, emissions from the gas turbine are much cleaner with no soot or fine particulates emitted from diesel generators. The demonstration unit powered a 30 kilowatt electrical generator, but Roby said generators from 1 to 30 megawatts could be used.

Roby believes there are several reasons why Bakken producers facing flaring challenges, rail transportation issues and environmental concerns can profit from LPP Combustion’s technology.

“We think that there’s a strong economic incentive that helps their logistics, it helps them politically and it helps them environmentally,” he said. “There are all kinds of benefits. It’s what I like to call doing good while doing well.”