Discussing the handling of mercaptans in natural gas

Increasing Total Plant Value in Natural and Sour Gas Treating: Handling Mercaptans, CO₂, and H₂S

By Justin Swain on Apr 1, 2020

Shell Catalysts & Technologies understands the pressures gas processors face in complying with stringent CO2, H2S, sulphur, and emissions standards. As these standards tighten, plant technologists and engineers need to adopt solutions to achieve targeted product specifications. As owners and operators of gas plants and refineries across the world, Shell Catalysts & Technologies employs its proprietary Sulfinol-X and SCOT processes to reduce capital and operating expenditures while delivering maximum value through integrated lineups.

Shell Catalysts & Technologies enables the industry to provide more and cleaner energy for today and the future. As gas processing challenges become more complex, integrated lineup solutions are required to deliver differentiated value. Our owner-operator experience and expert-level service can be applied to augment higher, cleaner, yields.

Sour Gas Processing Challenges

According to the International Energy Agency, approximately 43% of the world’s natural gas reserves outside of North America are sour.1 Sour gas is inherently toxic, flammable, corrosive, and less marketable than sweetened alternatives. Energy yields for sour gas are low and liquefication is nearly impossible without extremely low concentrations of CO2. To complicate matters further, CO2 and sulphur emissions regulations continue to be legislated across the globe. Emissions of these kinds within sour gas sweetening processes pale in comparison to other industries but are not insignificant.

Challenges like these prove the importance of employing best-in-class processes while leveraging progressive technology and an integrated approach. Shell Catalysts & Technologies recognizes the importance of sustainable sour gas treatment procedures. This is why our emphasis is on developing solutions for an integrated lineup.

Handling Mercaptans, CO2, and H2S

Over decades of sour gas processing leadership, Shell Catalysts & Technologies has developed proprietary processes and technology to support the effective handling of mercaptans, CO2, and H2S. One area of proven expertise includes the cost-effective integration of the Acid Gas Removal Unit (AGRU) with SCOT processes. The ability to keep upfront capital expenditures to a minimum makes this integration attractive in many cases. The Sulfinol-X process utilises a solvent that is designed to leverage the advantages of Sulfinol hybrid and accelerated methyl diethanolamine (MDEA) solvents in a single acid gas removal process. Lastly, as the quantity and quality of H2S extracted from sour gas treating procedures increases, processors can then apply the Claus process to transform it into a highly marketable product itself.

In order to extract maximum value from both upstream and downstream processes, plants need to incorporate integrated strategies for optimizing complex gas treating and cleaning line ups. Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ trademarked SCOT process, combined with the Claus process, has returned over 99.9% sulphur recovery efficiencies on many projects and operations already in production. The Claus process is designed to lessen capital requirements in the short run and operating costs in the long run. Simple yet integrated solutions offer high flexibility and reliability without requiring a burdensome cost structure to support sour gas sweetening operations.

Benefits of an Integrated Approach

The primary benefits of integration that our customers experience are improved margins, increased flexibility, and availability of practical trade-offs. Relying on multiple vendors for different parts of the overall lineup introduces excess costs resulting from sequential bidding and variations in design. Shell Catalysts & Technologies, with operational experience and in-depth knowledge of all the sour gas technologies it licenses, can help improve margins and decrease costs in the long run.

An integrated lineup through one licensor supports flexibility by giving plant owners full access to the licensor’s entire portfolio. This can enable designs to be changed or refined should the project scope change without needing to vet new partners and negatively impact the schedule and costs of the project.

Learn more about increasing total plant value and combatting highly complex and uncertain gas compositions through integration. By adopting our integrated approach, one of our customer projects avoided a year-long delay preventing a 10% reduction in net present value equating to roughly $3 billion in savings. Download the Shell Catalysts & Technologies Beyond Sulfinol White Paper.

Contact a Sour Gas Expert

Unique gas processing challenges must be addressed with customized solutions in terms of people, process, and technology. If you are challenged by tightening product specifications and emissions standards for sour gas sweetening, start a conversation with a Shell Catalysts & Technologies Sour Gas expert. We look forward to collaborating with your team to develop a custom set of solutions in-line with our integrated approach.

“The Global Sour Gas Problem.” The Global Sour Gas Problem | Stanford Energy Journal, 26 Nov. 2012, sej.stanford.edu/global-sour-gas-problem.