No Pipe Dream

The Barzan Gas Project aims to meet the demand for sales natural gas, its byproducts and more.

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The multi-billion dollar Barzan Gas Project (BGP) is a unique blend of upstream and midstream ventures which will supply clean-burning natural gas and a host of natural gas liquids (NGLs), among other industrial feedstocks, to its downstream customers in Qatar from early this year.

BGP will process raw natural gas into sales gas (clean-burning gas) and channel it to its customers through pipelines. The means of transporting fuel in the oil and gas industry and its storage as well as wholesale marketing are generally referred to as midstream sector.

Train 1 of the project (BGP), which is a joint venture between Qatar’s state energy arm, Qatar Petroleum (QP) and ExxonMobil of USA, is expected to begin operations from the first quarter (Q1) of this year.

RasGas, the developer and operator of the ambitious project, said in a press statement issued in September of 2014 that Train 1 of the BGP was 95 percent complete and was expected to produce clean-burning natural gas by early this year. Once fully completed, Trains 1 and 2 will produce around 1.4 billion cubic feet a day (bcfd) of clean-burning natural gas from the North-Field, where Qatar has massive reserves of non-associated gas (natural gas that is not present with oil but present independently).

Train 2, work on which is progressing fast, is expected to be completed by the middle of this year.

The RasGas statement said the Barzan project was a fully integrated one from reservoir to customers. Once the two Trains are in operation, RasGas will emerge as one of the world’s single largest gas processors with a production capacity of 11 bcfd, which is equivalent to almost two million barrels of oil.

Sales or refined gas apart, Barzan will also produce a host of key byproducts of natural gas. The demand for gas and its byproducts like NGLs has been growing in Qatar due to its vast downstream industries that are concentrated mostly in Messaieed. Due to the mega projects being launched in the country and construction activity going on at a hectic pace, the demand for sales natural gas and its byproducts has been growing at a rapid pace. BGP was launched in 2011 to basically meet the galloping local demand.

Barzan offshore

Key byproducts

Barzan will produce about 22,000 barrels per day of field condensates and 6,000 bpd of plant condensates, among other things. Condensates, as we know, are a mixture of light hydrocarbon liquids present as gaseous components in the raw natural gas sourced from gas fields. They are called condensates since they condense out of raw gas if the temperature is reduced below the ‘hydrocarbon dew point’.

Condensates, sometimes also known as natural gasoline, find widespread use as diluting agent (diluent) in highly viscous heavier oils like crude bitumen or extra heavy crude oil. They are also widely used in the plastic industry.

As the term suggests, plant condensate is condensate extracted at a plant from dry gas (natural gas, which, when brought to the surface from the well produces little condensable heavier hydrocarbon compounds like propane and butane). Propane and butane are our LPG (light petroleum gas) which is compressed in cylinders and sold as cooking gas. Field condensates, as the term suggests, are found while drilling a gas well.

Barzan will produce 34,000 barrels a day of ethane as well, which is a very important feedstock of the vibrant petrochemical industry. It is used in ethylene production. Ethylene is, in turn, used to produce polyethylene. A pen, or the dashboard of a car, or computer hardware, are good examples of the uses of polyethylene in the fast-paced plastic industry. Ethane is also used as a refrigerant.

Propane (10,500 bpd) and butane (7,500 bpd) are to be produced, too, by Barzan. Propane and butane are both LPG. Your cooking gas cylinder has compressed propane or a mixture of propane and butane. Some countries like Australia, for example, don’t mix the two and sell propane as LPG.

Not surprisingly, then, the Minister of Energy and Industry, H. E. Dr Mohamed bin Saleh Al Sada, announced in November 2013 that with the commissioning of BGP, Qatar will produce an additional 500,000 tons of LPG a year.

Qatar, he said, is one of the main exporters of LPG in the world with total export volumes of about 11 million tons a year. The LNG produced is 77 million tons per annum, which is the highest production volume in the world.

Local petroleum products distributor, Woqod (Qatar Fuel), sells the safe and transparent gas cylinders called ‘Shafaf’ of weights of 12 kg and six kg for household use. With the additional LPG production capacity of Barzan, Woqod will be able to supply an additional more than 40 million 12-kg cylinders or over 80 million 6-kg cylinders a year, much more than the current demand.

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