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Natural Gas Processing and Handling

In the next 20 years, there will be a large increase in global natural-gas demand, with an average growth rate [forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA)] of more than 1.8% per year. The top two leading countries in rising gas demand are China (7% per year) and India (4.7% per year).

There is plenty of gas worldwide. In November 2010, the IEA announced that the world’s ultimate gas recovery could be approximately 30,000 Tcf. That is twice the previous estimation from the same source made in 2009. That is primarily because of the success of shale-gas production in North America. Of the 30,000 Tcf of gas, proved gas reserves are slightly more than 6,600 Tcf, and 49% of that is located in Iran (18%), the Russian Federation (17.6%), and Qatar (13.4%).

The US is the largest natural-gas producer and consumer. It produced approximately 24 Tcf and consumed 25.4 Tcf in 2012, while Russia produced much more gas than it consumed (20.9 and 14.7 Tcf, respectively). On the other hand, many countries, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Germany, use much more gas than they can produce, and some of them do not produce any. That leads to one of the remaining challenges in natural-gas use: natural-gas processing and handling.

Currently, 68% of the world’s gas is transported by pipeline (primarily on land) and 32% as liquefied natural gas (LNG). The top three LNG exporters are Qatar, Malaysia, and Australia. Because of relatively recent new offshore gas discoveries, Cyprus, Israel, and Mozambique are expected to be new players in the LNG market, along with the United States because of its success in shale gas production. Some of them might consider building floating LNG (FLNG) terminals. To find out the market context for LNG projects that will come to market beyond 2020 and how FLNG could fit in that marketplace, attend the SPE Floating LNG workshop in Perth, ­Australia, 18–21 May 2014.

Although the countries mentioned most likely will export their gas as LNG, compressed natural gas (CNG) could be an interim solution, especially with the new generation of CNG containers made with composite material. A composite container may have as little as 40% of the weight of a metal container with the same capacity. Composite containers are also stronger than steel containers, with high damage tolerance and fire resistance.

GTL technology can provide liquid fuels for transportation and can also reduce gas volume by a factor of 600 or higher, depending on the final products. Because of the large capital investments involved and the physical size of the process, currently only a small portion of natural gas is converted to liquids through GTL methods.

To find out more, attend the SPE Gas Technology Workshop in Doha, Qatar, 26–27 May 2014.

This Month's Technical Papers

Case Study: Foaming During Startup of Karan Nonassociated Gas

Modeling and Analysis of Salt-Cavern Natural-Gas Storage

Inshore Floating LNG for Liquefaction of Onshore Shale Gas

Recommended Additional Reading

IPTC 16495 The Role of Underground Storage in Large Natural-Gas-Production Operation by Merry Hoagie, Santos, et al.

OTC 24205 Stranded-Gas Field Development With Cluster LNG Technology by JungHan Lee, LNG Solutions, et al.

IPTC 16489 An Integrated Model for Selecting the Best Fuel To Develop in the Value Chain of Natural Gas by Ahmad Mousaei, RIPI, et al.

Xiuli Wang, SPE, is the director of Minerva Engineering and an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. Previously, she spent 6 years with XGas as the vice president of technology and chief technology officer, with a focus on natural-gas monetization. Wang also had 8 years of operational experience with BP, specializing in production, completions, and sand control. She is the lead author to the book Advanced Natural Gas Engineering, is a contributing author of Modern Fracturing—Enhancing Natural Gas Production, and has a large number of technical publications to her credit. Wang was the associate editor-in-chief of the Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering during 2008–11 and currently serves on the JPT Editorial Committee. 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. In 2007, Wang was named the United States Asian American Engineer of the Year. She is a 2013–14 SPE Distinguished Lecturer.

Natural Gas Processing and Handling

Xiuli Wang, SPE, Director, Minerva Engineering

01 April 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 4

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