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Baseefa Ltd

Case Study: LED lighting at a Marcellus Shale production site

19 March 2014

Horizontal Well Drillers operates a number of rigs in the Marcellus Shale in the north-eastern USA, one of which is situated near Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Requiring a Class I Div 1 and Class I Div 2-compliant solution to light the derrick, cellar, mud pit and shaker areas, the original T8 fluorescent lighting was functional but not optimal, with lighting maintenance causing serious problems at the site.

HWD rig near Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
HWD rig near Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

The high-vibration environment created by the HWD1000 drilling machine boring through layers of compressed rock, as well as frequent transport of the rig from one site to another caused premature lighting failures. Despite lifetime ratings of some 30,000 hours for the T8 fixtures, most lasted only a small fraction of that time—typically just 6 months—in the harsh, corrosive environment, even with nighttime-only operation.

Not only was bulb failure an issue, but often the lens cover gaskets would corrode and leak, causing additional corrosion inside the fixture itself, rendering the entire unit inoperable and requiring a complete fixture changeout.

Aside from the obvious expense of the fixture replacement—an average of $270 apiece—the procedure was less than ideal from a safety perspective, requiring a rig hand to climb the erected structure to change out the fixture. Because the process required cutting power to the fixtures and interrupting production, the process was always performed under strict time constraints, in order to restore normal operating conditions as quickly as possible.

“Sometimes we could get away with just changing a bulb, but usually the entire fixture would be corroded and need a complete rebuild or replacement,” said Grizzly Kristian, the lead electrician at the Lock Haven drill site. “With eight or nine lights per derrick, plus a couple in the BOP [blowout preventer] and over the shakers, each rig might have up to 13 lights, so lighting maintenance was a big part of our job.”

Looking for a more reliable and efficient alternative, the company settled on Dialight SafeSite hazardous location-certified, ruggedized, LED lighting.

These Class I Div 1 and Class I Div 2-certified products are rated for more than 100,000 hours and backed by a 5-year full performance warranty. The company installed two Class I Div 1 High Bays in the BOP area offering 9,500 lumen output at just 142W for a high efficiency 67 lumens per watt. Over the shakers and on the rig, HWD installed a mix of 2-foot and 4-foot Class I Div 1 and Class I Div 2 Linear fixtures, providing an exceptional 93 lumens per watt.

These provided maximum efficiency, visibility and safety while consuming half the electricity of the T8 fixtures. Also, the precision optics place the light exactly where it’s needed for a more efficient lighting schematic that is also less intrusive to the surrounding communities near HWD’s drilling sites.

As part of its rotating retrofit system, HWD has now replaced the entire lighting system on four of its rigs with Dialight LED hazardous location rated fixtures. The company is systematically replacing every T8 fixture that fails on every rig with Dialight LEDs, aiming for a complete LED retrofit of the entire fleet.

With the first rigs fully outfitted with LEDs, the company has already seen an immediate ROI. “The Dialight LEDs are definitely paying for themselves,” Kristian said. “The ability to avoid having to change out just one T8s pays for one of the LEDs—no question.”

In addition to the substantial maintenance savings, HWD has also realised significant fuel savings as well. With two massive diesel generators running in alternating 12-hour shifts, the company’s electricity cost computes to roughly $1 per kWh—a rate far higher than any utility provider in the United States. Even with specially-negotiated fuel rates, HWD’s fuel bill is a major chunk of its operating expenses.

The company estimates that switching from fluorescents to LEDs on the derrick saved it about 60% in energy costs immediately and freed up capacity to power other activities more critical to the operation. The increased brightness has also improved worksite safety.
HWD now has plans to outfit new rigs with Dialight LEDs as part of the initial build process, and is looking to replace additional perimeter fixtures at their drill sites with LED lighting as soon as the next generation of products becomes available.

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