Though its environmental impacts are much less than oil or coal, reducing the environmental footprint of gas production further is certainly possible. Some improvements increase costs but reduce risk. But still other ways of reducing the impact of gas on the environment actually cut costs. They are outright cleaner and cheaper.
Substituting natural gas for diesel fuel to operate drilling rigs is a powerful example of cleaner and cheaper. Brian Murphy of Ensign Energy Services calculates that running a drilling rig on gas costs $1,322 per day, compared to $4,653 for running on diesel. fuelfix.com/blog/2012/09/28/natural-gas-wins-place-as-oil-field-fuel/. The daily difference is $3,331 and ads up to $1.3 million per year, according to Murphy.
And using more of your own product is good business for any industry. David Ross, Director of Business Development for Pennsylvania-headquartered EQT, states in the linked to story that the opportunity for using gas in drilling rigs is bigger than that presented by long-haul trucks, ferries, and locomotives combined. Wow!
Indeed, EQT has converted at least one drilling rig to natural gas and expects to roll out more. www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120705005589/en/EQT-Launches-Pilot-Program_Convert-Marcellus-Drilling Also, UGI announced this summer that it would providing LNG for drilling rigs in the Marcellus. www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120711006521/en/UGI-Energy-Services-announces-plans-supply-LNG.
So what's the hold up in using more gas at drilling rigs? Building them to run on gas or converting them is the answer, to put it simply.
The solution, however, is on the way. At the end of September, Caterpillar stated it would manufacture gas-run drilling rigs and have them for sale soon.
Gas-run drilling rigs will reduce significantly the carbon and other air pollutants, associated with gas production, as well as slash production costs. Here's another example of cleaner and cheaper.