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Special Report: Utilising sour gas

by Indrajit Sen on Mar 13, 2017


Dr. Nick Coles, director - Conferences at Dome Exhibitions.
Dr. Nick Coles, director - Conferences at Dome Exhibitions.

Sour gas constitutes about 40% of the world’s natural gas reserves. In some reserves, the sulphide composition is very high so it needs to be extensively treated prior to selling it in the market. Hence more sour gas facilities are required with better capacity and efficiency. The exponentially rising demand for uninterrupted supply of gas for power generation, is one of the factors responsible for the growth of the sour gas market.

Removal of acidic gas from sour gas is a costly operation and the size and cost of the separation depends upon the amount of gas that needs to be separated. Thus the huge cost associated with equipment and separation processes can be a major consideration for the sour gas market in today’s oil and gas scenario. Technical advancements and development of efficient and cost-effective processes for gas conditioning have opened new ventures for the market players to invest in R&D.

Two such new developments will be launched at SOGAT 2017 and the first is ‘cMISTTM Compact Inline Dehydration Technology’ from ExxonMobil. The natural gas industry is increasingly pursuing compact and lower weight processing technology for offshore, onshore, remote, and challenged gas processing. Increased modularity of process equipment and process intensification require innovation.

The ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company (EMURC) has developed and qualified a new inline dehydration technology meant to replace conventional TEG tower and associated separator vessels to meet pipeline dewpoint specifications. Compact Mass transfer and Inline Separation Technology (cMIST™) achieves this goal with significant reductions in weight and footprint. cMIST™ enables 50% dehydration system weight reduction and 50 - 80% absorber footprint reduction, along with significant capital cost savings.

The second is from Paqell and focusses on the ‘Techno-Economic Impact on the Improvements of the THIOPAQ O&G Process for Sulfur Recovery’. Small and medium scale sulphur removal commonly occurs via physicochemical and biotechnological processes. In general, physicochemical processes utilise a chemical catalyst which operates optimally in a tight operation window. In contrast, the catalyst supplied in the biotechnological process, such as the THIOPAQ O&G process, is not limited to tight specifications such as high operating temperatures and turn-down.

In the THIOPAQ O&G process, the catalyst is a mixture of naturally occurring sulphide oxidising bacteria which multiply itself (i.e. grow) by the oxidation of dissolved sulphide into sulphur. Continuous R&D efforts ensure that the THIOPAQ O&G technology remains cutting edge. The latest improvements are far reaching, as the rates and efficiencies of the process have been increased significantly.

Within SOGAT 2017 the free to attend Workshop from GASCO and Al Reyadah on ‘Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS)’, which is part of the ADNOC Integrated Gas Master Plan, will be of benefit to all those attending. The historical landmark agreement reached by the world at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) December 2015 set an ambitious target: to limit the increase of the global average temperature to well below 2°C.

CCUS is an essential element of the portfolio of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reach this target. ADNOC has taken a lead in the Middle East by Al Reyadah, a joint venture between ADNOC and Masdar, to be the first specialised company focussed on exploring and developing a commercial-scale CCUS project, particularly focussing on CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Given the importance of carbon dioxide-based EOR in the region, a further contribution in the conference programme will be from Saudi Aramco on the successful experience with their first CO2 capture and Injection facility, which will provide additional information on this vital win-win aspect within the overall scope of gas development going forward.


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