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Costain Wins US Gas Study

12 August 2016

US gas processors have chosen Costain Natural Resources to carry out an eight-month research study into the removal of heavy hydrocarbons from natural gas.

Adrian Finn, Process Technology Manager, and Adil Farooq, Process Engineer, have now begun work on the study, which was awarded by the GPA Midstream Association based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As Adrian explained, the study’s findings will be used to facilitate exports of natural gas from the US to Europe.

“Shale gas production means that US natural gas production has increased greatly in recent years. Giant plants (typically costing many hundreds of $millions) in Texas and Louisiana can produce several million tonnes per annum. These are now starting operation, with more to follow.

“In order for the gas to be transported, it is cooled to below -160°C so that it liquefies and occupies only 1/600th of its original volume. It is then carried on massive tankers to export markets including the UK.

“The natural gas feeding such liquefaction plants (and proposed smaller ones) has already been processed for pipeline transportation and for use as fuel. However the processing requirements for liquefaction are more stringent and any components that may freeze must be removed. This includes water and carbon dioxide for which proven technologies exist. But it also includes ‘heavy hydrocarbons’ which, though normally present in minute quantities, can freeze and block equipment and so must be removed.”

Adrian and Adil have begun to identify and assess current commercially available technologies for removing components that may freeze. They plan to report back to GPA Midstream next spring.

Said Adrian: “This award highlights Costain’s expertise in low temperature gas processing and in the evaluation and selection of the critical gas pre-treatment solutions required upstream of cryogenic liquefaction facilities.

“The US is a world leader in gas technology, and GPA Midstream had the whole world to choose from. So for them to come to us to find a solution is quite a feather in our cap!”

Caption: An LNG plant built by Costain


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