An industrial prime generator is an essential piece of equipment for many oil fields. These generators provide power for even the most demanding oil drilling operations. In many cases, they must stand up to harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures and weather. Reliable power is critical for the oil and gas industry, particularly in remote areas where connecting to the electrical grid is impractical. In this article we will discuss why these generators are important, how they are different from standby generators, and some things to consider when purchasing a prime generator for oil field operations.
When an Industrial Prime Generator Is Necessary for Drilling Contractors
Oil fields are where we find crude oil and natural gas necessary for things like fuel and everyday products like plastics. They’re often located in remote areas, with some of the largest and most productive oil and gas fields found in isolated areas in states like Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska.
Obtaining oil and gas from the ground requires many different pieces of equipment, including specialized drills, pumps, and more. Many oil fields also maintain on-site lodging for drilling personnel. Therefore, oil and gas drilling requires significant power solutions. However, in many cases oil fields are located far from residential towns and commercial districts. In many cases, this means that the nearest electrical grid is too far away to provide power for drilling operations. In these cases, most drilling contractors use an industrial power generator to fill the gap.
Industrial generators use engines to create electricity. Generally speaking, most industrial generator sets are fueled by either diesel or natural gas, as these are often the most reliable, accessible, and economical types of fuel to use for industrial purposes. Drilling contractors can arrive at remote oil fields and install generators to power all their necessary equipment for oil production. In many cases, drilling contractors purchase and own industrial generators. Once the contractor is done in one location, they will typically transport and install the generator in a new oil field for their operations.
“Isn’t Grid Electricity Cheaper?” Not Necessarily!
Now, you might be wondering why many drilling contractors use an industrial prime generator instead of connecting to the grid. After all, the grid can usually be extended to provide power. Also, if you look specifically at cost per kilowatt, electricity from a utility provider is frequently less expensive than the cost of running a generator. However, looking only at these monthly costs can be misleading due to major up front costs needed to connect to the grid.
In fact, one 2017 study found that leasing natural gas generators was up to 60% cheaper than connecting to grid power for most oil fields. The issue is that the cost of construction for necessary electrical infrastructure to connect oil fields to utility power is a huge expense. All told, it costs significantly less to operate industrial generators for onsite power because of these huge up front costs for grid-based line power where it doesn’t already exist. Therefore, most drilling contractors prefer to utilize generators instead of going through the expense (and often logistical nightmares) of connecting to electrical grids that may often be hundreds of miles away.
What’s the Difference Between an Industrial Prime Generator and Standby Generator?
Of course, when most people think of generators, they think of standby generators because they are more popular for homes and commercial buildings. These are different from an industrial prime generator used on an oil field for power. A prime generator provides primary power for operations. Prime generators typically run for longer periods of time, even up to 24/7 to provide electricity when utility power just isn’t an option. Prime generators are primarily used for variable loads, meaning the load varies anywhere between 50% and 100% of the prime rating.
By contrast, standby generators are designed to run for shorter periods of time to provide power during outages, such as during major storms. They help provide power for essential equipment as an emergency back up for facilities that normally use grid power.
Many generator units can be used for either application. In many cases the generator unit will have a standby rating and a prime rating. If you’re planning on using your critical power generator for prime power on the oil field, then it’s important to choose a unit that fits your needs.
Finding the Right Industrial Power Generator for Oil Fields
If you’re a drilling contractor looking for prime generators for oil and gas operations, then there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, consider the type of fuel that will be best for your operations. Also, make sure you understand what prime rating you need from the generator. These can help you find a unit that meets your requirements and offers cost-effective power in remote locations.
Most drilling contractors use either natural gas or diesel generators. There are pros and cons to each type, so one might be better for your needs than the other. In most cases, natural gas is cheaper than diesel as a fuel source. It’s also one of the cleanest burning sources of fuel available and it doesn’t go stale over time. Therefore, many drilling contractors choose natural gas generators for their operations. However, in many cases natural gas generator sets are more difficult to install than diesel generators. They are also often less portable than diesel options. In addition, up front costs for natural gas generators are often higher than for diesel generators.
Diesel generators, on the other hand, are often more portable and easier to install than natural gas generators. Therefore, many prefer them for more temporary operations. Diesel is also widely available and fairly inexpensive. However, it can go stale and may need replacement if let sitting for too long.
Industrial Prime Generator Ratings
Another thing to keep in mind is how much power you will need for your operations. Once you know the approximate load, you can find a generator with the right rating. Most generators come with two ratings: a prime rating and a standby rating. The prime rating shows the load the generator can handle with continuous operation at variable loads. If that load is below 50% of the prime rating, it can lead to issues. For instance, the fuel not burning properly. Eventually this can lead to fuel inefficiency or even damage to the generator.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you can use the generator for the standby load rating for up to one hour in a 12 hour period. However, standby ratings list the absolute maximum load. Loading your generator to standby ratings should only be for one hour in 12 hour periods. Otherwise, your risk generator damage, premature generator failure, and unreliable power for your operations. Our team can help you locate the right unit for your needs.
Get Critical Power Generator Solutions from Generator Country
When you need power generation solutions, we offer exactly what you need. Our team at Generator Country provides high quality service whether you’re buying or selling a generator. We supply new and used generators for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. We also purchase used generators you no longer need, so you can get cash for used generator equipment. Contact us now to buy a generator or sell us your used generator.