Abstract

This paper demonstrates that selecting a gas processing concept that is robust against changes in predicted gas composition during the maturation of (associated) gas projects reduces the risk of schedule delays and cost creep while potentially presenting opportunities to deliver first hydrocarbons to customers earlier.

During early project phases, the availability and quality of data on the specific field to be developed are usually limited. Consequently, project teams have often been left with two options when designing gas processing facilities. The first option is to rely on old data, data from well tests of questionable quality and/or data from analogue fields, if available, in order to form the basis of their design. This brings relatively high risk of having to redesign once higher quality data become available. Design alterations may delay the schedule to first oil/gas and lead to increased costs and erosion of the overall project value.

The second option is to wait for new well test data to become available before starting work on the gas processing facilities. This approach, though preferable, can result in costly schedule delays and does not guarantee the delivery of accurate data on which to predict the gas composition and base the gas processing design.

Appreciating this uncertainty is the first step in mitigating the risk. The second step is selecting a gas processing concept that is robust against flow and compositional deviations. In this way, the design of the gas processing facilities can go ahead at a low risk before full appraisal of the field is complete. This may enable parallel project phasing by starting the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) phase for the gas processing facilities during field appraisal.

Shell believes that an effective gas processing line-up of an acid gas removal unit (AGRU) that utilises the Shell Sulfinol-X all-in-one amine technology along with a selective acid gas enrichment unit (AGEU) combined with sulphur recovery units (SRU) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) tail gas treatment provides the robustness to deal with high compositional uncertainty for the gas.

The novelty in this paper is recognising that robust gas treating line-ups such as the one described above can have operational advantages and enable developers to secure their licence to operate by meeting emission restrictions. These line-ups can also have additional project execution/schedule advantages that add value to a project.

Specifically, this paper will demonstrate that the small additional capital expenditure required for the proposed robust design is more than compensated for by the acceleration of the project resulting in an overall improvement to the net present value. Additional benefits to the project will be ease of operation, simplicity and ultra-low emissions.

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