Dual Fuel and Dedicated Natural Gas Engines Can Provide Environmental and Cost Solutions

by Visitor Ryan_R on ‎02-09-2012 01:06 PM

Two engine technologies are helping oil and gas producers save money - and improve the environment.

Both dual fuel and dedicated natural gas engines have been around for years. But increased global concern about emissions and associated gas flaring, as well as the acknowledgment that natural gas is both abundant and less expensive than diesel, have renewed interest in the technologies.


Starting in 2012, the Russian government will require oil companies to capture up to 95 percent of the natural gases associated with petroleum extraction - fuel that is now emitted into the atmosphere via gas flaring. While there is an environmental cost to flaring, there is a financial loss as well: In Nigeria, as much as 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas is flared each day, which amounts to an estimated yearly loss of $2.5 billion (U.S.).


The dual fuel and dedicated natural gas technologies can harness that associated gas for energy, greatly reducing the need for flaring. The use of the flare gas also reduces the need for diesel fuel, saving operating costs. But both technologies have strengths and potential drawbacks:

• A dedicated natural gas engine offers more fuel cost savings and a cleaner emissions footprint than either diesel or dual fuel designs. But supplying the natural gas can sometimes be a challenge and gas-burning engines are slower to respond to transient loads.

• Dual fuel engines also have a proven track record of fuel cost savings and lower emissions. Most can tolerate use of associated gas and offer the flexibility of switching between diesel and natural gas depending on need. Again, fuel supply can be an issue, as can the fact that the natural gas needs to be of a specific quality to assure best operation.


Caterpillar is planning to release a comprehensive dual fuel solution for land drilling and land production applications in late 2012. The new product will operate on relatively low-quality field gas and continually optimize diesel and gas combustion efficiency in harsh oil and gas environments.


What concerns do you have about dual fuel engines? Is natural gas readily available in your application? How important are fuel cost concerns in your decision-making process? What innovations have you adopted to reach environmental goals?

by Visitor Lyndonberchy
‎02-10-2012 11:30 AM - edited ‎02-10-2012 11:35 AM

I worked for Caterpillar Europe for 10 years , In 2008 to 2011 I was the Caterpillar Advisor at the Exxonmobil Facility MPN Nigeria.

In many occasions I approached Exxonmobil management with the idea of installing Caterpillar Gas Engines for Power Generation.

The Onshore facilities were operating 3512 and 3516 Diesel Engine generator packages,One major problem in Nigeria would be fuel being stolen and 20% water added to it to compensate the stolen fuel. I once joked and told the management I was on a secret research mission to learn and adapt Caterpillar Engines to run on water.

The damage and maintenance costs soared while I continued to battle the forces of corruption, MPN was flaring gas for 30 years, management appreciated the idea of operating gas engines but no concrete efforts were made to install and run gas engines.I guess it does not matter in the end in these countries, people are only concerned to the barrels of oil being produced each day and the short sighted views or the lack of leadership to put forward these economical logical solutions were not always important to them.

I believe that once people wake up to the idea of Gas Engines in Africa there would be a huge market for Caterpillar Gas engines in countries like Nigeria.

Nigeria however is a place where you take one step forward and ten steps back, The Corruption and the lack of vision, investment and leadership in the country and in the large oil companies is a sad tale of woe and wasted energy.

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds."  Non-cognitive skills can matter as much as I.Q. for workplace success.

by Regular Contributor
on ‎02-10-2012 01:20 PM

i work in italy, my personality esperience is full positive with dual fuel application, wi have project to start at sun dual fuel application on 3412 gen set with altronic system, our target is reduce of 50% NOX , without catalist,the  istallation is in north of italy ,are in cogeneration and we use vegetable crude oil, soo not only oil field need and use, i have many friends with planty years of esperience, special with cat engine in many application, and tail me is wery low cost to compare ader solution to reduce pollution, soo welcome and we wait some good news, redars ciao Claudio

by Contributor rahal
on ‎02-10-2012 04:24 PM
Am working for 7-up bottling company in Nigeria as generator manager and we rely on diesel generator as prime power source.in order to survive in our harsh condition we decide to install duel fuel system On our 3412 gen-set with comap system but unfortunately this conversion cause catastrophic failure with no11and 12 piston burst the block due piston seizure result from tremendous overheating.so saving fuel cost was our goal but blackout result from generator failure make us loose market .
on ‎02-12-2012 05:25 PM

The Caterpillar dual fuel option can't come soon enough. And, it mustn't be just restricted to Petroleum applications.

A Carbon Tax has just been legislated in Australia. All manner of energy users are looking at ways of reducing their carbon footprint. Even Electric Power consumers are looking at using their standby gensets to reduce their reliance upon coal-fired utility power. Some large Data Centres are looking at using their gensets on100% biodiesel fuel, to give a zero carbon footprint.

Dual fuel is being requested at mine sites, and we are starting to convert engines using third party conversion kits, but we are concerned about the commercial risks of warranty gaps, and the disputes that can arise if a failure occurs. We need an integrated solution, complete with published emissions data, quantified performance data (transient performance capabilities, fuel consumption, exhaust flow data, etc) and a full Factory warranty for dual fuel products- particularly generating sets.

Customers want diesel fuel transient load change capability, diesel reliability, and 100% diesel capability for flexibility, but reduced fuel cost and reduced diesel emissions.

Bring on the Cat dual fuel option!

by Visitor Ryan_R
on ‎02-14-2012 10:06 AM

rahal...we are developing our system to be able to tolerate associated well head gas (gas reelased during crude oil production at the wellhead), can you share any data on the gas fuel you were using?

by Trusted Contributor
on ‎02-28-2012 09:57 PM

I did some experimenting with dual fuel (diesel pilot injection) and found that it is very difficult with mechanical controlled engines to control the level of detonation with the relatively high compression ratio (14:1?) required for diesel operation.  I found that much over 60% gaseous fuel ratio was about all you could get when trying to achieve the diesel rating.  We had a PLC controlling the diesel fuel rack; this was before electronically controlled engines.


With the electronic controls and detonation sensing that Cat has today, it should be much easier to balance the diesel/gas ratios with the load changes and achieve the best combination of these new dual fuel engines.

Al Hunt

by New member keelytm
on ‎03-13-2012 06:32 PM

Personally, I think fuel cost concerns are really important. With the economic trends as of late, it's good to stay far away from the financial brink. When I worked at an oil refining plant back in Alaska, I really saw first hand a side of the industry I'd never understood as a consumer. Profit does matter. Right now, reducing costs is, I think, one of the best ways to do it. That's a big reason why I support a switch to Caterpillar gas engines

by Contributor Baker33
‎04-04-2012 02:02 PM - edited ‎04-04-2012 02:03 PM

This comment follows my recent post under Land Drilling:  Do dual fuel generators become unreliable at high loads when the gas-to-diesel fuel ratio is very high (e.g., above 80%)?

by New member JulianW
on ‎08-31-2012 10:05 AM

Hello, all,

We are developing an equipment (mobile and containerized) to purify the APG (wellhead gas) in order to make it just like natural gas (CNG or LNG).

Thus, engines could run with their own production - no CNG/LNG logistics needed.


hope someone can provide some info regarding the following:

- What composition of wellhead gas can the dual engines take?

- Is it better if the engines run on natural gas than on wellhead gas?

- Is there any guidance regarding heating value of the gas?

- Ratio gas/diesel vs. heating value or wobbe index?


I would appreciate being contacted by someone at CAT that has technical info, as we would like to design our offerings to help CAT engine users.

by Visitor Allenwood
on ‎09-18-2018 01:11 AM

We are Uniper: an international energy company with about 12,000 employees. We combine a balanced portfolio of technologically advanced large-scale assets with outstanding technical and commercial expertise.These assets and capabilities enable us to deliver flexible, bespoke, competitively priced energy products and services with agility, precision and speed. Gas Infrastucture

by New member nightslides
on ‎01-03-2019 10:49 AM

Intersting question: this comment follows my recent post under Land Drilling:  Do dual fuel generators become unreliable at high loads when the gas-to-diesel fuel ratio is very high (e.g., above 80%)?

About the Author
  • In 2005, I started my career at Caterpillar as an intern in Kiel, after that I worked as a student and then a temporary employee. I finally became a permanent employee in 2008, working at the Marine World headquarters in Hamburg. Through all these years I was supporting and leading Marketing projects from various areas, including Electronic Sales Tools, Shows, Novelties etc. By May 01, 2011 my job role changed to the current one. In this position I am leading several Electronic Marketing projects such as all Marine and Oil & Gas Social Media activities.
  • I have been in the oil and gas industry for 34 years, primarily in technical sales and support roles for natural gas compression equipment. I have been with Caterpillar for 13 years managing application and service support for Caterpillar’s gas compression product group, managing technical service support for Caterpillar engines in Oil & Gas applications and managing product definition for Caterpillar’s Petroleum marketing unit. I am currently based in the Global Petroleum headquarters in Houston, Texas and am responsible for developing a worldwide Condition Monitoring solution for Caterpillar products used in the Oil & Gas industry. Prior to working with Caterpillar, I was with Halliburton Company’s gas compression rental business unit. There I provided technical support for applications and service in a variety of roles with the last 4 years as Manager of Compression Engineering. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A & M University. I am currently a member of the Gas Machinery Research Council’s (GMRC) Project Supervisory Committee and active in the GMRC’s Gas Machinery Conferences.
  • I began tinkering with engines at age 9 when I built a radio controlled airplane and took the engine apart .  Then at age 12, my dad bought me my first motorcycle, a 1979 Honda XR80.  Several modified motorcycle engines and a few broken bones later my career in developing emissions complaint engines began. Now, I have over 20 years experience addressing CARB and EPA engine emissions and safety regulations in a variety of roles. From gasoline and LPG fueled  LSI engine testing, prototype development, calibration, and field testing to NRTL approvals with Underwriters Laboratory for use in hazardous locations . My career at Caterpillar as Emission Manager  began in December 2011 and I'm enjoying my transition to the industry.
  • I have been working in engineering since 1998, primarily in different aspects of engine design . I joined Caterpillar in 2005 to work on the design of internal engine components. I have been based in Houston and have worked on products specifically for the oil and gas industry since 2008.
  • I began my career at Caterpillar in 2003, developing marketing communications for many different groups including machine, product support and technician recruitment. Since 2008, I have been working as a Marketing Consultant with Global Petroleum to develop effective marketing communications materials and events.
  • As a native of Jakarta, Indonesia, I joined Caterpillar Jakarta District Office as marketing trainee in 1985. A mechanical engineer by education, I spent my early years in Machine, Product Support field assignments before joining the Engine Division as Jakarta District Sales Representative in 1990. In 1995 I relocated to Singapore as Marine Consultant, and later as Sr Sales Representative in Caterpillar Marine Power Systems Division, where I made the breakthrough sales of Cat 3600 propulsion engines to the booming AHT market in Singapore and Malaysian shipyards. In 2005 I moved to the Global Petroleum Asia Pacific as Sales & Marketing Team Leader, and promoted to Sales and Marketing Supervisor position in 2007. In GPAP, I secured several breakthroughs including the first collaborative sales (joint effort with CMPS) of 2x6M25 engines to Keppel Singmarine for Lukoil FSO (2006), and a rigset of 8 x 3616 to Jurong's first Cat-powered Semisubmersible 'West Sirius' (2007). In 2008, I led my India team in securing the largest contract with India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) to repower their fleet of 185 x D399 engines with 3512B ($57M), followed with ONGC Parts and Service Agreements and initiation of India Petroleum Strategy with our India dealers in 2009. In ASEAN I led the breakthrough sales of the C175-16 in the Singapore Jackup rigs market with 19 units booked in 2011 and another 41 to be shipped in 2012 and 2013. Since 2010 I have been working on nurturing Caterpillar network and partnership with other National Oil Companies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar. I believe that NOC will continue to provide Caterpillar and its dealers good business for prime product and support services in years to come.
  • I started with Caterpillar in 1993 at the Lafayette Large Engine Facility. Currently I am a New Product Defintion Manager for Land Drilling and Land Production Products. I am responsible for managing new product programs for diesel, gas and dual fuel products. I am experienced in Engine development and installation in Generator sets, On-Highway trucks, Motorgraders, Well Service Equipment, Oil and Gas Drilling Equipment.
  • I joined Caterpillar after 4 years in the USArmy Field Artillery. After assignments in fuel system and engine control system design, engine test and development, manufacturing, and gas engine/genset project management, I am presently responsible for large gas compression engine marketing functional requirements and launch of these new products.

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