Increasing regulatory pressure has made emissions of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (collectively known as BTEX) and total volatile organic compounds (VOC) from glycol dehydration units a major concern for the natural gas industry since there are over 40,000 of these units in operation. The Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990 have been the impetus for air toxics regulations, and the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards for the oil and gas industry will be proposed in June, 1995, and will include glycol dehydrators. In addition, several states are regulating or considering regulation of these units.
The most common control systems that have been applied to glycol dehydrators are combustion or condensation systems. Combustion systems suffer from high operating costs since they do not recover the hydrocarbon for sale and require supplemental fuel. Many of the condensation systems may not achieve sufficiently low condenser temperatures to meet regulatory control limits. The R-BTEX™ process addresses this shortcoming by recovering the steam from the glycol dehydrator and converting it to cooling water; this allows R-BTEX to achieve the lowest condenser temperature possible without refrigeration.
The Gas Research Institute (GRI) is conducting a field test program to demonstrate the process under a variety of conditions. Under this program, testing has been completed at one site in south Texas and at another site in western Colorado. Startup of a third unit at a Gulf Coast site in Texas should occur in late 1994. This paper presents the testing results for the first two sites and includes a side-by-side comparison of the R-BTEX process with other available control technologies.