Exploration and Production Technologies
Field Demonstration of a Membrane Process to Recover Heavy Hydrocarbons and Remove Water from Natural Gas

DE-FC26-99FT40723

Goal 
The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the operating reliability of a complete pilot-scale membrane system to recover natural gas liquids (NGL) and remove water from associated natural gas at a gas treatment plant.

Performer
Membrane Technology and Research, Inc., Menlo Park, CA 94025
(Field Test Location: Pascagoula, Mississippi)

Benefits
Based on data from prior membrane module tests, the process is likely to be significantly less expensive than glycol dehydration followed by propane refrigeration, the principal competitive technology. At the end of this demonstration project the process should be ready for commercialization. The route to commercialization is being developed during this project and involves collaboration with other companies already servicing the natural gas processing industry.

Background
The project addresses the issues of recovery of natural gas liquids (NGL) and removal of water from raw natural gas. To address these issues Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. (MTR) designed and fabricated a 3-million scfd membrane system unit to recover natural gas liquids (NGL) and remove water from raw natural gas. The initial membrane system was installed and operated by British Petroleum (BP) with partial support for the field demonstration and installation of the unit provided by the Gas Research Institute. The unit is currently undergoing an extended field test to demonstrate system performance under real-world conditions. The results from this field test should convince industry users of the efficiency and reliability of the process. The gas processed by the membrane system meets pipeline specifications for dew point and Btu value and can be delivered without further treatment to the pipeline.

Summary
Demonstration of this equipment has been underway for some time and is drawing to a close. During 2006, specific accomplishments is support of the project included:

  • Presentations on the Membrane Process were presented at the Laurence Reid Gas Conditioning Conference (LRGCC) and Gas Processors’ Association (GPA) conventions. The presentations were successful and generated substantial interest (see references below).
  • Representatives from the natural gas industry, BP, Statoil, Total and GTI participated in a site visit to view the membrane processing equipment in operation.
  • A fuel gas conditioning unit (FGCU) was sold to Southern Union (formally Sid Richardson) for a remote compressor installation in Caprock, TX. The unit started up in late 2006 and is the third unit sold to this entity under both companies. Inquires for FGCUs are being processed world-wide.
  • In June 2006, MTR participated in the biannual Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Canada. Reception of the technologies was very good and alliances were identified with manufacturers to increase sales once commercial.


An MTR Fuel Gas Conditioning Unit (FGCU) operating at Sid Richardson Company in New Mexico


Fuel Gas Conditioning Unit (FGCU) that uses technology developed by Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. under DOE NETL Project FT40723. The unit is a three-vessel system containing a total of 12 membrane module elements; the conditioned gas product is used to fuel five on-site compressors at a remote gas processing site. The unit was ordered by a major U.S. pipeline company in 3Q 2006.

Current Status (October 2007)
Final report has been completed and project is completed.

Start Date: September 30, 1999
End Date: March 30, 2007

DOE Cost: $650,000
Performer Cost: $650,000

Contact Information
NETL – Traci Rodosta (traci.rodosta@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-1345)
MTR – Dr. Kaaeid Lokhandwala (kaaeid@mtrinc.com or 650-328-2228)

Additional Information:
Final Report - “Field Demonstration of a Membrane Process to Recover Heavy Hydrocarbons and Remove Water from Natural Gas” [PDF-2.74MB]

References 
Kaaeid Lokhandwala, Ankur Jariwala, and Richard W. Baker, R.W., “Only raw sour gas available for engine fuel? Proven membrane process cleans gas for engines,” presentation at The 56th Laurance Reid Gas Conditioning Conference, Norman, OK, February 27 - March 1, 2006.

Kaaeid Lokhandwala, Ankur Jariwala, and Richard W. Baker, R.W., “Only raw sour gas available for engine fuel? Proven membrane process cleans gas for engines,” presentation at Gas Processors’ Association (GPA) Annual Meeting, Grapevine (near Dallas), TX, March 5-8, 2006.

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