Justifying Process Automation Upgrades for Older Facilities

Presented by ONEOK Field Services 2003 National GPA meeting

Kevin A. Lawlor Oneok Field Services Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

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


The gas processing industry has been active in Oklahoma since the early 1930’s. The majority of gas processing plants currently in operation were installed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s to take advantage of advances in turboexpander technology. Many of these plants have not been upgraded since their installation with regards to process technology or their plant control systems. Thus these plants are still operating at the same level of efficiency as they were 25 to 30 years ago. However, the market has evolved to the point where many of these plants do not yield the rates of return on their operating expenses that their companies and investors demand. Therefore, gas processors in Oklahoma are faced with the option of finding new ways to increase their profitability or ceasing operations.

Oneok Field Services was formed in 1999 and is the result of midstream facility acquisitions from Koch, Kinder Morgan and Dynegy. All of Oneok’s gas processing facilities lie in the TX, KS and OK areas and the majority of these facilities are of late 70’s and early 80’s vintage design. Furthermore, the contracts for the gas supply to these plants are primarily Keep Whole in structure wherein the processor is taking the full risk of the commodity pricing of natural gas and natural gas liquids. In the past several years this commodity risk has been extreme and the profitability of the midstream segment has suffered.Figure 1 illustrates this fact by showing how the price differential between the equivalent price of ethane compared with natural gas has decreased in recent years.

Download PDF

Scroll to Top