You are on page 1of 17



Eng./ ALy Nassr


The gas is present in two types according to its discovered in the

wells ,so it could be called natural or associated gas. The gas which
present in wells separately is called natural gas and it is basically light
gas in its composition contaminated with some impurities which
should be removed before using it as fuel, while the gas which present
in oil wells is called associated gas and its component is commonly
heavy rich with worthy product which could be obtained in industrial
base as in LNG and NGL plants. The gas is commonly hydrocarbon
gas phase components basically consists of methane , ethane , propane
, butane , pentane and heavier in addition to some impurities such as
.soured gas ( CO2, H2S ) , Mercury , H2O and waxes
For going on and as common definition we will use the common
:abbreviations for the basic components of gas as follow

formula abbrev
CH4 C1
C2H8 C2
C3H12 C3
C4H16 C4
C4H16 C4
C5H20 C5
C5H20 C5
C5H20 C5
---- C6

The main upstream process executed to the gas aim to prepare the gas
to be used as final fuel source if it is a natural gas or to be delivered to
the down stream plants for further process to obtain high economic
.value products and residue gas which will be used as final source fuel


1- Major Terminology used in natural gas

processing :

NGL- C2+
LPG & C5+
Hydrate .
Sales Gas
Sour &sweet gas.
Dry & wet gas .
Associated & free gas.
Rich & lean gas .
Early start
Upgrade unit
API unit-Oily water
Closed &open drain
Hot &cold flare
Cold box
Surge Vessel
Blow down P/L
Back Pressure &pressurizing .
Battery limit

2- Up-stream(Field) processes in Natural gas
Purification(Slug removal)---------treatment

Dehydration(absorption ,adsorption or injection)


Sweetening(de-souring) ---------treatment


the purification process performed after gas generated from the well to eliminate
all accompanied substances impeded with the gas such as sand , mud which is
normally present with the gas as natural surround in the well or liquids either
hydrocarbon liquids such as oil in case of associated gas or condensed heavy
saturated hydrocarbon chains or free water as accompanied present originally in
the well or from water injection to left the gas from the naturally in well. This
operation performed using sand removal units and slug catchers to separate three
phase gas liquids hydrocarbons above water by utilizing the difference in specific

This operation is performed to reduce the water vapors in gas phase to prevent the
hydrate formation during transportation via the pipelines at the different pressure
and temperature conditions causing blocking to the lines and lead to corrosion in
case of presence of acid gases such as CO2 or H2S.
This process carried out using injection as in methanol or glycol techniques or
adsorption process using solid or liquid absorbent material such as glycol
contactors or molecular sieves beds.

The sour gases or acid gases is not recommended to be maintained in the gas due
to its harmful effect to the pipes and equipments generally on the other hand its
harmful to health.
This operation generally executed using adsorption techniques by solid descants
or by absorption by liquid as in amine process.

The gas which is almost treated is then fed to booster compression unit to be
delivered directly to gas plant via P/L network.

3- Down stream process (NGL Plants)

This operation varied from liquefied the gas to separate the heavy
components in a form could be stored and transferred easily or
liquefied the light components in the gas to transfer the liquid via
tankers then degasification again in another place .
The main products of natural gas processing :
1-Petrochemical feed stock (C2&C3 mixture):
2- Propane as commercial product.
3- LPG
&finally condensate which is the heaviest product plus sales gas
which is the exhausted gas after processing(sales or residue gas).


The following are the some specifications of the feed natural gas
which undergoes processing :

In order to produce these products ,the feed gas from fields must
undergo some subsequent processes that performed in gas plant which
is mainly to produce NGL(natural gas liquids)which is then
fractionated to the desired products .
The wet, sweet ,free gas from fields (gas production plant) undergo
the following processes :

Final treatment (solid bed dehydration).

Cryogenic or chilling process.



Gas dehydration :


Natural gas contains water as an impurity. Water is an undesirable

component that causes several problems in gas transmission lines as
well as further gas treatment units. Corrosion is a problem, but the
most important problem is hydrate formation, a phenomenon that
occurs when the gas temperature is decreased due to any reason.
Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid that consists of a gas trapped in a ring
of water molecules (see figure). There is no chemical bond between the
gas molecule and the enclosing water molecules so the gas is
effectively. A hydrate is a physical combination of water and other
molecules to produce a solid which has an ice-like appearance but
possesses a different structure than ice. Their formation in gas and/or
NGL systems can plug pipelines, equipment, and instruments,
restricting or interrupting flow.

A Single Hydrate

Dehydration using dessicant solid bed :

Molecular sieve dehydrators are commonly used ahead of NGL
recovery plants designed to recover ethane. These plants typically
operate at very cold temperatures and require very dry feed gas to
prevent formation of hydrates. Dehydration to a 150F dew point is
possible with molecular sieves. Water dew points less than 150F can
be accomplished with special design and strict operating parameters.

Cryogenic process (Production of NGL):

The extraction of NGL is generally preceded by treatment of the gas to

remove water, sulphur compounds and other contaminants. CO2

removal and nitrogen rejection may also be carried out depending on
composition of the inlet gas. Method for the separation of NGL can
generally be divided into cryogenic and non-cryogenic systems. Early
attempts at recovery of these liquids were made using lean oil
absorption (non-cryogenic) and mechanical refrigeration. The
absorption process was later developed into refrigerated absorption
process and in recent years, enhanced absorption processes involving
both refrigeration and pre-saturation have been developed. The
introduction of Joule Thompson valves and turbo expanders in 1960s
made significant contributions to the achievement of cryogenic
conditions. The schemes using these technology were initially
designed with minimal heat integration and no or little column reflux.
These were later developed into schemes that generated column reflux
and maximize the heat integration for high NGL recoveries and
optimize the plant profitability.
The cryogenic process has application as the most economical means
for recovering a high percentage of all hydrocarbons heavier than
methane. Specifically, the cryogenic process aims to recover ethane
and heavier hydrocarbons, such as propane, butane and gasoline
components. Different
variations of this process are capable of removing more than 85% of
the ethane and essentially all of the heavier hydrocarbons found in
produced natural gas. By contrast, other processes may be more
appropriate when the goal is to recover just propane and heavier
components. The main advantage of the cryogenic plant, in terms of
recovered product, is therefore its ability to recover ethane or high
propane recoveries.

When we chill a gas to condense NGL, we hope to extract or recover

the maximum amount of valuable NGL. However, a substantial
amount of methane will also condense to liquid and become part of the
mixture. The methane is undesirable for two reasons:
1. The methane has zero value as an NGL component .
2. Methane elevates the vapor pressure of the NGL mix and may
cause difficulties in liquids transportation.
Therefore, almost all of the methane is removed from the NGL in the
demethanizer tower. There are costs associated with operating a

demethanizer; these include the capital cost of the equipment and its
operating cost, which includes several factors. Since methane must be
rejected from the NGL, it stands to reason that the cost of
demethanizing will be less if the amount of methane condensed is less.
Thus, one criteria in the design and operation of the turboexpander
plant is to minimize the amount of methane that liquefies while still
maximizing the recovery of ethane and heavier hydrocarbons. The
quantity of methane that can be removed in the demethanizer depends
upon its design. It will have been designed for some maximum case,
where the maximum amount of methane condensed and rejected
corresponds to the maximum recovery of ethane. Turboexpander plants
can usually recover 98+% of the propane and 100% of the butane and
heavier hydrocarbons from the feed gas stream. NGL recoveries vary
according to the design of the plant and its operational objectives, but
one thing is certain: as ethane recovery targets go higher, so does the
difficulty in preventing excessive methane condensation.

There are three general methods which can be used to achieve the
conditions necessary to attain high ethane recovery levels.
1. J-T Expansion
2. Turboexpander
3. Mechanical refrigeration
Each of these processes has been used successfully, with the
turboexpander being the predominant process of choice for
ethane recovery facilities.

Fig( ) : Tubular heat exchanger including all components


Fig.( ) . Typical expander process


Fractionation is a process in which a liquid or vapor mixture of two or more

substances is separated into its component fractions of desired purity, by the
application and removal of heat.

Fractionation is based on the fact that the vapor of a boiling mixture will be
richer in the components that have lower boiling points. Therefore, when
this vapor is cooled and condensed, the condensate will contain more
volatile components. At the same time, the original mixture will contain
more of the less volatile material.

Fractionation columns are designed to achieve this separation efficiently.

Although many people have a fair idea what fractionation means, the
important aspects that seem to be missed from the manufacturing point of
view are that:

Fractionation is the most common separation technique.

It consumes enormous amounts of energy, both in terms of cooling and

heating requirements.

It can contribute to more than 50% of plant operating costs.

The best way to reduce operating costs of existing units is to improve their
efficiency and operation via process optimization and control. To achieve
this improvement, a thorough understanding of fractionation principles and
how fractionation systems are designed is essential.

A single fractionation section comprised of deethanizer, depropanizer and

debutanizer facilities is provided.

This fractionation section is fed by the demethanized liquids

(NGL)recovered in cryogenic section..

Main Components of Fractionation Columns:

Fractionating columns are made up of several components, each of which is

used either to transfer heat energy or enhance material transfer. A typical
fractionation contains several major components:
A vertical shell where the separation of liquid components is carried
column internals such as trays/plates and/or packing which are used
to enhance component
A re-boiler to provide the
necessary vaporization
for the fractionation
A condenser to cool and
condense the vapor
leaving the top of the
A reflux drum to hold the
condensed vapor from the
top of the column so that
liquid (reflux) can be recycled back to the column
The vertical shell houses the column internals and together with the
condenser and re-boiler, constitute a fractionation column

PROCESSING , Campbell Petroleum Series (Jan. 1982).
2. "GPSA Engineering Data Book" Eleventh Edition.
Wobbe no -1

Astm hg -2

abbreviattion -3