Maximizing Gas Plant Profitability in Turbulent Processing Environments

Presented with Enable Midstream Partners 2014 National GPA Meeting

Alan Dove Enable Midstream Partners, LP Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Veeral Mehta, Steve Hendon, and Mark Roop eSimulation, Inc. Houston, Texas, U. S. A.


Operating natural gas processing plants under fluctuating commodity pricing, inlet conditions, and equipment performance capabilities is challenging. Midstream natural gas processors typically address fluctuating economic conditions by operating their gas plants in either full ethane recovery or full ethane rejection mode. In early 2000, Enable Midstream Partners, LP (Enable Midstream) began deploying gas plant optimization technology to its cryogenic plants and discovered that there is actually a continuum of optimal operating points within each mode. Rigorous gas plant optimization technology is used to determine where to operate along the continuum so that profitability is maximized under all operating and economic conditions. The optimization solution is currently deployed at seven of Enable Midstream’s gas processing complexes. An additional plant optimizer is scheduled to come online when the new McClure Plant in western Oklahoma is commissioned. This paper describes the non-intuitive, and often counter-intuitive, guidance that the optimization solution provides to maximize plant profit margins on a daily basis. A case study will be presented that demonstrates how the non-intuitive move guidance is delivering substantial value for Enable Midstream’s Wheeler gas processing facility in the Texas Panhandle. The paper will contrast optimization move guidance at Wheeler versus optimization move guidance at the South Canadian facility – an identical plant with the same economics – where the optimizer guided the plant to maximize profit using exactly the opposite move strategy. A detailed study was performed to describe this optimization move guidance differential. The study describes the non-linear optimization move response to fluctuations in inlet GPM and economic conditions. Results will be overviewed and a 12-month pro forma example will be presented that shows the profit opportunity associated with optimizing physical and economic interactions for cryogenic assets.

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