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This is an extract from a blog article posted on Turbo Machinery Magazine by Ivan Rice


Natural gas and oil production has gone way up the past few years in the United States. A few years ago there were many skeptics who thought that the newly produced shale franking gas and oil production was only a bubble to soon pop, but now the experts all seem to agree that US gas and oil production is here to stay for the long run.

Both oil and gas production has risen to the point where it is predicted that the US will become oil and gas independent within 10 years. The general consensus is now that fracking, if handled prudently and closely monitored, is safe and acceptable.

There are three major producing areas for shale oil and gas in the US: the first is the large Eagle Ford play in Texas, the second is in North Dakota and the third is located in Pennsylvania.

New York has blocked fracking so far as being unsafe. There is another large US potential producing area that is located in Arkansas that has recently been announced, but it will take several years to become a reality. The Eagle Ford region runs deep into northern Mexico, but Pemex, the national oil administry does not have the funds or know how to move forward with shale fracking. Therefore, the Mexican government has recently passed a new law to allow foreign companies, particularly the US, to frack drill in Mexico, but it will take time for gas and oil to start flowing.

Lack of pipelines in certain areas is limiting the production and trucking and rail is used to get the oil to the refineries. A recent freight train derailment caused a terrible fire in North Dakota as recently shown on TV. Even so, rail to transport the oil to the refineries will continue to be used.

The increase in oil and gas production in the US has given the needed incentives for the Petrochem industries to start building large new Petrochem plants in the Gulf region. A 700 mile long 40 inch diameter gas pipeline has been approved to pump gas to the auto region in Mexico. Natural gas liquefaction plants are being built to ship LNG to Japan and other far off places now that the price of gas has leveled off and stabilized at about 4 dollars a million BTU. All of these things have greatly improved the economy of the US and reduced unemployment.

Coal Outlook in the US

Recently the EPA has at last, after long delays, ordered US companies with coal burning power plants to reduce the emission of C02 to lower levels. However, coal will remain in use in the US a long time. Production of electric power is predicted to remain at present levels or fall off only slightly while the production of electric power by burning natural gas is predicted to increase to meet the future growing demands. At the present time, a little over half of our US electric power is generated by coal.

A number of the newer coal burning plants will be converted to burn natural gas. The old coal plants will be retired. The future looks bright for high efficiency combined cycles to be installed in the US in increasing numbers.

Rosy Future for Combined Cycle Power Plants in the US

Conditions are now right for the combined cycle to start being installed in increasing numbers in the US.

The electric utility companies are now accepting the long range production of fracking natural gas production and are starting to move forward with highly efficient combined cycles power plants. Two examples are given as follows for new US CC power plants.

Siemens has received an order for two H-class gas turbines for the Patriot power plant in Pennsylvania. It is to have a capacity of 829 MW and is scheduled to start up in 2016. It is the 27th H-class gas turbine sold by Siemens worldwide. The plant will burn local Pennsylvania shale natural gas. It will have two SGT6-8000H gas turbines in a single shaft arrangement with one generator, each with one SST6-5000 steam turbine. There will be a duplicate sister power plant named Liberty.

The second example is a 540 MW combined cycle undergoing installation at Marble Falls northwest of Austin, Texas. This installation is based on using two GE HD Frame 7 FA advanced units. The plant is expected to start up this summer and will replace an existing 37 year old natural gas fueled plant and will be 120 MW larger but will burn less fuel. It will be powered by shale fracked gas.