Major flare gas recovery project delivered on time, on budget

Qatargas tells how using main instrument and control contractor across multiple systems avoided problems, saved time and reduced costs.

By Michael Koo, PE

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With shrinking budgets and higher expectations to do more with less, large capital projects are more at risk than ever of failing to deliver on time and on budget. As projects become larger and more complicated, relying on a project management team to manage suppliers, each with their own work methods, standards, communication tools and reporting processes, is becoming a thing of the past.

Projects now require one integrated team to provide a complete instrumentation, control and safety system that can seamlessly interface with vendor-supplied packages and electrical systems. In the oil and gas industries, this is the only way large organizations can efficiently manage project development costs, and provide safe and controllable systems that will integrate with their clients’ systems.

Ending routine flaring

At Qatargas, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer, we have experience with using an integrated team to deliver large-scale projects. Officially inaugurated in April 2015, our Jetty Boil-Off Gas (JBOG) Recovery Project is the biggest project of its kind and one of the largest environmental investments in the world.

Download: 2016 State of Technology Report: The rise of configurable I/O

That same month, the major oil companies partnered with government and other officials from oil-producing countries to work toward ending routine gas flaring at oil production sites by 2030. This partnership, Zero Routine Flaring by 2030,  will end the unsustainable process of routine oil gas flaring as soon as possible and no later than 2030.

As part of its participation in the Zero Routine Flaring program, the State of Qatar needed to minimize flaring nationwide. This initiative was translated by its Ministry of Environment (MoE) into conditions inserted in the Consent to Construct for LNG trains at Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLIC) (Figure 1). RasGas obtained a waiver from MoE to allow RasGas and Qatargas to operate trains if the JBOG recovery project was implemented. With Qatargas producing 42 million tons of LNG per year, it was essential for us to reduce flaring from our LNG trains to align with the national focus on flare minimization, and reducing emissions and carbon footprint. Because gas flaring impacts the environment by emitting CO2, black carbon and other pollutants, miniming the impact of LNG production was a top priority.

Moreover, flaring is simply wasteful because it discards a valuable fuel source that can be used in applications worldwide. Savings from the JBOG project can power the equivalent of more than 300,000 homes each year.

Boil-off recovery basics

The JBOG recovery system minimizes flaring at all six LNG berths at Ras Laffan with a vapor recovery system that compresses gas for fuel to the fullest practicable extent. A study in 2006 showed that boil-off gas recovered from three simultaneous berth loadings achieved a recovery rate of up to 97.7% of projected berth flaring, which is based on 78.3 million metric tons per annum of total LNG production. Updated studies during front-end engineering and design (FEED) stages indicated the JBOG recovery rate will be around 90% of the boil-off gas generated.

The JBOG Recovery Project is owned by all of RLIC’s LNG-producing ventures and facilities. During construction, ConocoPhillips provided staff to execute the project, together with others from Royal Dutch Shell. Also, Fluor provided engineering, procurement planning and management services. Commercial discussions during the FEED stages led to ownership proportions based on estimated amounts of JBOG that each owner will produce. On behalf of RLIC’s owners, Qatargas was entrusted by Qatar Petroleum to oversee development and eventual operation of the JBOG project.

The largest component of the project is the 2 x 50% BOG compressor system, located in the central compressor area (CCA) near Lot H (Figure 2). In all, there are three sets of compressors, including two low-pressure (LP) BOG compressors, two middle-pressure (MP) BOG compressors, and two high-pressure (HP) BOG compressors to handle all gas recovered from the six berths.

Completion of the $1-billion JBOG project is the first stage of flare reduction at RLIC. Its objective is minimizing flaring at the LNG terminal by recovering the gas flared during LNG loading at the six berths at Ras Laffan City Terminal. The project is designed to recover all JBOG generated during three simultaneous bulk loadings of ships in port, and its JBOG system can recover up to 163 tons of gas per hour. With all producers generating about 77 million tons of LNG in 2011, flaring at the terminal averages 0.7 million tons of gas per year or about 100 million cubic feet per day (mmscfd). The JBOG project will result in a 90% reduction in flaring at the six berths. Also, flare management and reduction strategies implemented by the JBOG project will position Qatargas for future opportunities to monetize carbon emissions in a global carbon trading market.

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