Scale-up for shale

Paul Boughton

From new pipelines to novel processing plants, the boom in US shale gas is driving investment in gas processing facilities there.

G2X Energy subsidiary Big Lake Fuels has been granted the required air permits to construct and operate a natural gas-to-gasoline facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA. The permits, issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, are the first of their kind to allow for the construction and operation of a commercial-scale plant to convert natural gas into liquid transportation fuels.

The project will convert domestic natural gas into approximately 12,500 barrels per day of zero-sulphur, reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) gasoline and/or commercial-grade methanol.

G2X says it will use commercially proven processes and the best available emission control technologies in both its methanol production and its methanol-to-gasoline conversion, which together comprise the industrial facility that will produce both marketable methanol and unleaded automotive gasoline.

Meanwhile, driven by an abundance of shale gas and the resulting expansion of North American natural gas reserves, G2X is creating a platform to expand the role of natural gas in the existing chemicals and transportation fuels market.

Enterprise Products Partners' plan to build a fully refrigerated ethane export facility on the Texas Gulf Coast has received a boost with the execution of long-term contracts to support the development of the facility. When it starts up in late 2016, the plant will have an aggregate loading rate of approximately 10,000 barrels per hour, or up to 240,000 barrels per day.

"We are pleased to announce the successful development of our fully refrigerated ethane export facility, which will be the largest in the world," said Michael Creel, CEO of Enterprise's general partner. "We continue to receive strong interest from the international community for this project and are having discussions with other potential customers that could result in our contracting the remaining capacity of the facility."

The ethane export facility will be integrated with Enterprise's Mont Belvieu complex, which includes over 650,000 barrels per day natural gas liquid (NGL) fractionation capacity and 100 million barrels of NGL storage capacity. The partnership's Mont Belvieu facility receives NGL supplies from the major producing basins across the USA. The Mont Belvieu complex is connected to growing supplies of ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions through Enterprise's recently completed ATEX ethane pipeline. Enterprise's integrated NGL system will offer supply assurance and diversification for the export facility.

At the same time, Louisiana LNG Energy (LLNGE) has secured funding from an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners for its mid-scale LNG export terminal currently under development in Louisiana along the Mississippi River. The project, expected on-line in late 2017, has export capacity of two million tonnes per annum, possesses deep water access for very large gas carriers, and utilises modular construction for speed to market.

LLNGE has selected Chart Energy & Chemicals to perform advanced engineering for the project. It has also selected Chart's 500,000 tonnes per annum standard LNG liquefaction plant design. The plants will feature Chart's liquefaction technology with in-house design and manufacture of all mission critical equipment.

In Canada, TransCanada's wholly-owned subsidiary Nova Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) has signed agreements with Chevron Canada (CVX) and Apache Canada's wholly owned and controlled partnership APA for approximately 1.9 billion ft3/d of firm natural gas transportation services to underpin the development of a major extension of the company's NGTL system.

The proposed Merrick Mainline pipeline project will be a major new link in British Columbia's emerging liquefied natural gas (LNG) export market. The pipeline will transport natural gas sourced through the NGTL system to the inlet of CVX/APA's proposed Pacific Trail pipeline (PTP) that will terminate at the Kitimat LNG terminal at Bish Cove near Kitimat in British Columbia. The proposed project will be an extension from the existing Groundbirch Mainline section of the NGTL system beginning near Dawson Creek to its end point near Summit Lake. The US$1.9 billion (EUR1.4 billion) project will consist of approximately 260 km of 48-inch diameter pipe (Fig. 1).

The US is moving from a state of energy dependence toward self-sufficiency that can eliminate the economic and political risks associated with oil imports. Gas reserves already discovered could produce enough liquid fuel to displace US oil imports for the next 30 years, says G2X Energy.

"The Merrick Mainline Pipeline Project will be designed, constructed and operated utilising TransCanada's extensive experience in developing safe and reliable energy infrastructure," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. "We now have four major natural gas pipeline projects under development in the region totalling $12.6 billion in investment, and we are committed to ensuring they are all built responsibly and with minimal environmental impact."

UOP Russell wins contract to recover natural gas liquids

PennTex Midstream Partners has selected UOP Russell to supply a gas processing plant to recover valuable natural gas liquids (NGLs) in northern Louisiana. The plant, which will process 200 million ft3/d of natural gas, will be in production in the first quarter of 2015.

In addition, UOP Russell will serve as the project's engineering, construction and procurement contractor. The company says its modular design and construction approach allows for quick construction, so the equipment can enter service up to six months faster than alternative approaches - while also ensuring superior quality control.

"A UOP Russell plant is an ideal solution to meet PennTex's need for swift installation and start-up along with reliable production," said Rebecca Liebert, senior vice president and general manager for UOP's gas processing and hydrogen business.

The UOP Russell solution includes supply and installation of modular cryogenic, dehydration, acid gas removal, inlet/residue compression, control system, flare system and site electrical equipment, in addition to site utility systems it also includes buildings for office, control room, motor control centre, and compressor requirements.

The company's pre-engineered modular equipment can easily be shipped to remote locations where gas often is discovered. Modules fit together easily and efficiently, significantly reducing construction time and expense and providing higher reliability after start-up. This enables customers to more quickly begin processing gas and earning revenue. The modular approach also allows for swift field assembly and, when coupled with the UOP Russell standardised installation plan, results in what the company describes as a very cost-effective solution.