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Shale Gas Summit

Team Seeks Low-Carbon Supply Chain

1 April 2016

Costain’s Process Technology Manager, Adrian Finn, recently delivered a presentation at the ‘UK Shale Gas 2016: The Engineers’ Summit’, where he outlined how gas processing costs could be potentially reduced to make shale gas exploitation more viable.

Costain is a leader in gas processing technology, engineering solutions and plant supply, and Adrian stressed the similarities between the processing of shale gas and the methods and processes already used in the UK to produce natural gas.

The UK has extensive experience in efficient, safe and environmentally benign gas production with strong regulatory frameworks in place. Against this backdrop, Adrian outlined the differences in producing gas for transmission or power or for chemical plant feedstock, the different levels and types of processing and whether shale gas could prompt new business opportunities in gas transportation and chemicals production.

The UK has considerable shale gas potential, with the UK Oil & Gas Authority awarding a further 159 blocks for onshore oil and gas exploration during the 14th Onshore Licence Round in December 2015. Shale gas is a natural gas present in shale rocks. Due to the low permeability of shale rock, gas production involves the hydraulic fracturing of the rocks to extract the gas.

Adrian said there is a need for operators to establish test sites in the UK to determine the amount and composition of recoverable shale gas for economic assessments to be made.

“Without knowing gas compositions, the potential markets for gas and the costs of production cannot be established so the economic feasibility of shale gas production in a given area is unknown. Identifying the economics of shale gas production by understanding the gas composition and the required processing is clearly critical to building a UK shale gas industry,” said Adrian.

Adrian highlighted the success of the US in exploiting shale gas and the positive impact it has had on the economy and job creation. Right now, products from US shale gas and liquefied shale gas are being delivered to the UK at a lower cost than indigenous natural gas.

“There are many technical points that can be applied from US experience and practice, but the UK must ensure that UK safety and environmental legislation is adhered to so as to ensure an exemplary UK shale gas industry is established,” said Adrian.

Adrian added that for the UK shale gas could develop and grow, the industry needs to work more closely with the relevant institutions to get the most out of this valuable resource.

“The engineering institutions, such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Institution of Chemical Engineers, have tremendous skills and commitment to the safe exploitation of shale gas and can take a key role in developing a safe and highly effective shale gas industry for the national good and the reliable supply of clean energy,” said Adrian.

The event, which was attended by members of the oil and gas industry, was organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and took place in London on February 23rd. Delegates also heard speeches from Ken Cronin, Chief Executive at UKOOG, Tony Grayling, Director of Sustainable Business and Development at the Environment Agency, and Tony Moloney, Head of Education and Skills at National Grid.

“It was rewarding that other speakers and delegates agreed with such points as the importance of appropriate process technologies, the value of “standardisation” to minimise cost and time, to first gas production and the use of pre-assembled modules for shale gas plants. It was clear to them that experienced engineering companies could deliver cost-effective shale gas processing plants to the most stringent standards,” Adrian said.


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