Flows of natural gas are increasing all around the world, from an amazing variety of sources. We’re seeing new gas supplies come onstream from Russian and Norwegian fields above the Arctic Circle, from tight sands in Europe, from shales in the U.S. and from CBM in Australia, Indonesia, Botswana and China. Additionally, new large deepwater, pre-salt discoveries such as Jupiter in Brazil and Tamar in Israel have been made in the last couple of years.
We are also seeing an explosion of new technology--especially in LNG technology--to bring gas to international markets. Developments range from a new gravity-based LNG regasification terminal off Italy to ExxonMobil’s Qatar project, which features the four largest LNG trains in the world and newly designed LNG ships that can handle significantly larger cargoes.
And, we are on the cusp of breakthroughs in sour-gas processing, such as ExxonMobil’s CFZ process. Controlled Freeze Zone is a single-step cryogenic separation process that freezes out and then melts carbon dioxide and removes H2S. Exxon is testing this process at its Shute Creek Treating Facility in LaBarge, Wyoming. The plant, which is expected to start up shortly, will process 14 million cubic feet a day over a two-year period. ExxonMobil says it intends to advance CFZ to the commercial-application stage. According to the company:
CFZ lowers the cost of carbon capture and storage because the process separates CO2, and other contaminants, as a high-pressure liquid stream that can be reinjected underground. Conventional processes require expensive recompression of the CO2 for reinjection. The CFZ technology has additional benefits: there’s no need to use chemical agents in the process, and it also eliminates sulfur production from hydrogen sulfide often found in gas streams.
Potentially, this technology could unlock access to huge, previous noncommerical deposits of natural gas throughout the world, adding to the robust growth in conventional and unconventional supplies that is now occuring.
--Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor
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