Alternatives to Optimize Gas Processing Operations

Presented with Enogex, Inc. 2001 Mid-continent GPA, 2002 National GPA, and 2002 European GPA

Mark E. Roop eSimulation, Inc. Houston, Texas, U.S.A.

Jean Leger Enogex, Inc. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Steve Hendon eSimulation, Inc. Houston, Texas, U.S.A.


Gas processing companies operate facilities that can benefit from advanced technologies developed for the refining, chemical, and petrochemical industries. However, the viability of these technologies for gas processing operations is a concern given the following challenges:

  1. The contract mix at the front end of the plant is varied and complex making it difficult to determine and maintain an optimal operational strategy for the unit.
  2. The contract mix can dictate how much money the processor can invest in upgrading the facilities with advanced technologies. Technologies justified on a 6 – 12 month payback basis for a refining industry may require a five-year payback period for a gas processing plant.
  3. Advanced technology solutions designed for large scale refining and petrochemical facilities may be only viable for the largest of gas processing units. Gas processors typically manage plants with varying capacities and all must be coordinated to achieve overall profit maximums.
  4. Processors often run with minimal process engineering resources to troubleshoot and enhance unit performance. The engineering resources, typically centralized and responsible for several process units, do not typically have the bandwidth to maintain onsite advanced technology solutions.
  5. Management is responsible for supporting several facilities from a central location. The consolidation that has taken place in the mid-stream business requires processors to manage plants with varying control infrastructure. Process optimization is put on the back burner when management is challenged with simply establishing a window into process operations.
  6. Operational practices are often imbedded in the philosophy of the company which can result in reduced asset profit contribution i.e. maximize recoveries at all costs.

The result of these challenges is that processors are often “flying blind”. They have limited indication of the financial impact of their decision making process and little guidance for maximizing the profit contribution of the facility. The technological requirements of the individual disciplines supporting the plant are summarized in…

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