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Understanding Natural Gas Facilities

Understanding Natural Gas Facilities

Natural gas facilities are a major part of Alberta’s ability to sell its product to an end consumer. All gas produced in western Canada requires some level of processing to meet the specifications required to sell to the end consumer.

A gas facility by definition encompasses the equipment between the gas wells and the pipeline or other transportation method used to sell the product. The purpose of the gas facility is to remove impurities and contaminants from the gas, remove liquids and solids, and prepare the gas to meet the sales requirements of the purchaser.

For simplicity purposes a facility can be viewed as having three main stages of processing; The main process function of a facility is to:

  1. separate the oil, gas, water, and solids
  2. deliver it to the transportation system (i.e. pipeline, truck, ship, or railroad car)

Gas must be treated for sales or disposal. In the past, disposal sometimes meant flaring or venting. Now, gas that cannot be transported is usually compressed for reinjection into the reservoir. Gas treating may involve only separation from the liquids, or it may include additional processes such as a secondary process.

The secondary process function of a facility is to treat produced water and solids for disposal. For produced water, treating usually includes removal of dispersed and dissolved hydrocarbons and, in addition to separation or oil skimming, may include:

  • filtration
  • deionization
  • pumping

If the treating of solids is required, the secondary process may include water washing and agitating the solids to remove the oil, and then separating the water from the solids.

The third process involves auxiliary systems that support the facility. Examples of auxiliary components are: heating and cooling systems, additional gas processing units, power generation equipment, electrical systems, and safety systems.

Gas facilities are complex and not all operators have the expertise, or the capital to run their own gas processing facilities. Therefore, many companies will look to a third party to provide these services. In other cases, operators may own and operate their own processing facilities. This can reduce their processing costs and potentially turn the facility into a revenue generator through processing third party gas in the area.

As an example, Quattro Exploration and Production has the capability to add an additional 20% to 30% more revenue from their two facilities, which would continue to drive a strong bottom line for their shareholders.

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