feature

powering
operations from the
desert to the sea

Every day you walk in and out of dark rooms and simply flip a switch to turn on lights, computers, heating and air conditioning. Imagine standing in the middle of 1,000 acres of flat, dry, dusty land, far from the nearest population center, and thinking about how to bring a project to life. With significant resource deposits in remote places across the globe, Chevron is faced with the challenge to find ways to provide reliable power infrastructure to produce energy to meet the world’s needs. 

To put that in perspective, today we have the capacity to produce about five gigawatts, or enough to self-generate electricity to power the City of Houston, with 6.5 million people who live in the city and its metro area. And the need for self-generated, reliable and efficient power across our operations continues to grow.

growing our power expertise

Much of the company’s expertise in power grows out of our exploration history.

“Throughout our history, we have built
some of the most complex facilities and produced in some of the most remote areas in the world – areas where we have had to develop our own infrastructure. ”

Hugh Connett
President
Chevron Power
and Energy Management

Connett traced our power story to the industry’s earliest discoveries, at Pico Canyon, California, and Spindletop, Texas (pictured below), where workers drilled wells with cable tool rigs that operated on steam. At early field operations, such as those in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV), steam engines ran the rigs, pumping oil to the surface of the earth. Eventually, the company shifted from steam to combustion engines to drive pumping which had replaced cable tool drilling rigs.

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efficiency in producing
heavy oil

As the company explored further and developed the technology and production procedures to recover heavy oil, cogeneration steam was introduced to the San Joaquin Valley business unit (SJVBU) to stimulate heavy oil field reservoirs and provide electricity to power its operations.

Today, SJV operates about 10,000 pump jacks – all run by electric motors – capable of producing roughly 200,000 barrels of heavy oil a day. The power for those electric motors typically comes from the local utility and Chevron cogeneration facilities in the Kern River Field.

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This photo shows the Sycamore cogeneration facility located within the Kern River field in Bakersfield, California. CPEM operates all of the San Joaquin Valley’s co-located cogeneration facilities. The facilities use natural gas to generate power and steam for the San Joaquin Valley business unit’s operations. CPEM delivers comprehensive commercial, engineering and operational support to enable the performance of our upstream and downstream businesses through reliable and efficient power operations.

Natural gas is used to feed large turbines, which are connected to a generator. The waste heat from the turbine goes into a heat recovery unit and creates steam that is pumped into the field for the heavy recovery system. The power generated is used in the field operations and sold to the local utility for additional revenue. These combined heat and power (CHP) facilities are some of the most efficient power sources available for generating both electricity and steam with a single fuel source. Through cogeneration, our operations use less total fuel and generate less greenhouse gas emissions than if steam and power were produced separately.

turbines – an inside look

Here’s how they work: When air is drawn into the gas turbine, it is filtered and compressed. The compressed air is then mixed with natural gas and delivered to the combustor for ignition. This hot combustion expands across the turbine blades to turn the shaft, enabling the resulting energy to power various processes.

When paired with a generator, turbines produce enough electricity to make upstream and downstream processes self-sufficient. Turbines also drive to compressors and use mechanical energy to drive our natural gas liquefaction facilities, propel our ships and perform sour gas injection.

Exhaust from a heavy duty turbine can be as hot as 900 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat recovery steam generator uses that waste heat to generate steam for enhanced oil recovery and refining processes.

CPEM-infographic

Turbines provide the power for some of our most ambitious projects. Learn more about how they work

powering new frontiers

The next frontier of Chevron’s power history is offshore. Drillships are designed to drill in up to 10,000 feet of water and probe as far as 45,000 feet beneath the surface. The ships are self-powered and self-contained, and the power generation facilities run everything from the lights to the propellers and all of the stationary drives. In the case of a complex pair of fields like the U.S. Gulf of Mexico’s Jack and St. Malo, which are pulled together into one central hub, the platform (pictured below) is powered by three turbine generators sized to meet the platform’s varying demand.

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At our remote operations in places like Western Australia and Kazakhstan, turbines support everything from keeping the lights on in residential areas to powering every aspect of our operations. Today, there are 625 gas turbines working in 12 countries across six continents to support our operations.

“Reliable and efficient power is essential across our worldwide operations,” said Connett. “CPEM delivers comprehensive commercial, engineering and operational support for the power needs of Upstream and Downstream & Chemicals. We also rely on the expertise of Chevron Energy Technology Company, Upstream Capability Base Business, Chevron Technology Ventures and OE/HES Center.” Connett continued, “This growing capability has been made possible by employees who have developed the roles, responsibilities and skill sets to become our company’s power experts.”

Updated: October 2016