Maxus Energy Corporation's Texas Panhandle Sunray Gas Plant (70 miles north of Amarillo) is unique, in that it utilizes practically every unit operation available to the gas processing industry (Table 1). This permits extensive processing and operating flexibility, and compliance with tighter environmental criteria, while minimizing operating expenses.


Design efforts for a state-of-the-art gas processing plant began after all area third party processing negotiation efforts failed to produce the desired results. Management beliefs in strengthening core operating areas and gaining "control of one's destiny" were major influences for design criteria. Without alternate processing options available, operating flexibility was critical to keep field production flowing. Marketing considerations went into the design, allowing for future, tighter pipeline gas quality specifications. Recovery of helium as a finite natural resource (and a new source of revenue) was also desirable. With new processing equipment, higher NGL recoveries could maintain production rates in spite of decreased drilling activity in the Panhandle area. All facets of the design focused on increasing the Mid-Continent Division's current and future contribution to the Corporate "bottom line."


Sunray Gas Plant is two separate process trains; a cryogenic turboexpander unit for the sweet gas gathering system, and cold box technology for the sour, oil field gas gathering system (Figure 1).

The sweet gas system arrives at the plant site between 225-250 psig and at seasonal ground temperatures. Except for water content, it already meets sales pipeline quality specifications. Therefore, the gas contacts with triethylene glycol (TEG) to remove enough water vapor to meet this, and can then bypass around the facility for direct raw sales to pipeline companies, if necessary. Normally, it enters plant compression for natural gas liquids (NGL) recovery. Up to three, 2500 BHP reciprocating compressors compress the feed gas to between 625-675 psig.

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