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EQT Converts Shale Gas Drilling Rigs to LNG

EQT Corporation has launched a pilot program to begin converting shale gas drilling rigs from diesel to liquefied natural gas.

LNG is about 40 percent less expensive than diesel, and emits between 20 percent and 30 percent less carbon dioxide with only a fraction of the emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulates, according to the natural gas company.

EQT’s initial LNG rig conversion is now operating in northern West Virginia. Pending evaluation of the pilot program, the company says it hopes to convert additional rigs in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. EQT owns or maintains drilling rights to 3.5 million acres of land in the Appalachian Basin.

According to EQT, this program marks the first LNG rig conversion in the Marcellus Shale region. The LNG being used for the pilot program is produced locally from Marcellus natural gas reserves.

Encana, Canada’s largest natural-gas producer, cut its fuel costs by 47 percent when it switched the power for its shale gas drilling rigs from diesel fuel to liquefied natural gas.

In an EL column, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser said there is “growing momentum and excitement” about LNG’s potential to fuel heavy vehicles including trucks, ships, barges and trains because it provides a cleaner power source than diesel. In one example, Rolls-Royce says its LNG engines for ships reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 percent compared to diesel or heavy fuel.

In June, Shell announced it would supply LNG gas at about 100 TravelCenters of America sites and Petro Shopping Centers in the US beginning in 2013. Shell also agreed to construct more than 200 LNG fuel lanes for heavy-duty trucks throughout the US interstate highway system.

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