Natural Gas Processing and Handling

Despite the currently deteriorating oil and gas prices (at the time of writing, West Texas intermediate crude was at USD 32.38/bbl and Henry Hub natural gas was at USD 2.25/million Btu), natural gas, the “least carbon-intensive” fossil fuel, is still projected by Exxon­Mobil, the International Energy Agency, and other sources to grow by 65% from 2010 to 2040, with the majority of the increasing demand coming from the Asia ­Pacific region.

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, in 2014, total world natural-gas production was 3460.6 billion m3 and 43.2% of it was from the United States (728.3 billion m3, 21.4%), the Russian Federation (578.7 billion m3, 16.7%), and Qatar (177.2 billion m3, 5.1%). On the consumption side, the total global ­natural-gas consumption was 3393 billion m3 and accounted for 23.7% of the total world energy makeup. The top three leading consumers were the US (759.4 billion m3, 22.7%), the Russian Federation (409.2 billion m3, 12%), and China (185.5 billion m3, 5.4%), and they consumed 40.1% of the total world natural gas.

Considering the current oil and gas market conditions and that processing and handling are part of the natural-gas supply chain, ensuring that gas processing and handling are cost efficient and safe becomes even more imperative.

Currently, total gas trades were 997.2 billion m3 (in 2014), slightly less than in 2013 (1032.8 billion m3). Pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) remain the primary gas-transportation means, with shares of 66.6 and 33.4% in 2014, respectively.

While pipelines remain the traditional means of transportation, LNG technology provides an effective alternative for long distances and offshore environments. The design philosophy has gone from simple to sophisticated to more sophisticated, without compromising safety and operability.

The advancements of LNG technologies enable the operators to operate their plants with lower specific-energy consumption, shorter downtime, safer environments, and generally higher profits.

The following papers and additional readings focus on LNG front-end design, safety topics associated with natural-gas transportation through LNG and pipelines, new improvements around the well-known Fischer-Tropsch process for enhanced gas-to-diesel conversion, flare-gas management, and ­carbon-adsorbed natural gas as an option for automotive fuel.

To find out more, attend the 2016 Offshore Technology Conference, 2–5 May in Houston; the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 26–28 September in Dubai; the 2016 Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, 25–27 October in Perth; and the International Petroleum Technology Conference, 14–16 November in Bangkok.

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 177861 Challenges and Complexity of World’s Largest Flares-Reduction Project by Christopher Howell, Basrah Gas Company, et al.

OTC 26020 Terminal and Transportation Risk Assessment for LNG Export in North America by H. Hamedifar, DNV GL, et al.

SPE 176129 Storage of Natural Gas by Adsorption Process by Anshul Arora, American International Group, et al.


Xiuli Wang, SPE, is the emerging technology manager at Baker Hughes. Previously, she was vice president and chief technology officer for XGas, focusing on natural-gas monetization. Wang also had 8 years of operational experience with BP, specializing in oil and natural-gas production, completion, and sand control. She holds a PhD degree in chemical engineering from the University of Houston, a BS degree from Dalian University of Technology, and an MS degree from Tsinghua University. Wang was the associate editor-in-chief of the Journal of Natural Gas Engineering during 2008–11 and currently serves on the JPT Editorial Committee. In 2007, she was named the United States Asian American Engineer of the Year by the Chinese Institute of Engineers-USA. Wang was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2013–14 and was named an SPE Distinguished Member in 2014.

Natural Gas Processing and Handling

Xiuli Wang, SPE, Emerging Technology Manager, Baker Hughes

20 March 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 4

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