As the hydrocarbon processing industry continuously strives to improve process efficiency, new portable technologies, such as GC-HPMS, can provide faster and more data rich results for many upstream, midstream and downstream applications. Ask yourself, what if you could perform lab-level gas analysis at the wellhead in minutes with a minimal footprint system? Or what if you could increase profitability by minimizing lost & unaccounted for gas? New technologies, like our recently launched G908™ device, are addressing these questions by enabling broader analytical capabilities in-line, at-line, in the laboratory and at remote field-based sites. Let’s explore the benefits G908 can bring to the upstream sector, enhancing the process as it relates to two different areas: production and the environment.

Production

During production, there are a number of key metrics that require monitoring including sulfur content and gas composition. Natural, refinery, landfill, sewage digester and other fuel gases contain volatile sulfur species such as hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and the mercaptans. These compounds are corrosive, toxic and subject to stringent regulatory controls.

We commonly see lab-based gas chromatography (GC) being used for the determination of sulfur species, but this approach requires special detectors that can suffer from hydrocarbon interference, operational complexity and non-linearity. When more extended analysis is needed, GC-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) is a more suitable technique. However, conventional GC-MS instruments are known to be large, complex and to require specialized maintenance for continuous operation. For sulfur analysis, users can leverage the capabilities of portable GC-HPMS to monitor pipeline gas streams for sulfur species content, such as H2S, COS and mercaptans, after de-sulfuring. This is an important pre-treatment to avoid corrosion of downstream pipeline infrastructure and can be completed in less than five minutes.

With G908, users benefit from point of need analysis during drilling at the wellhead. This device can quantify C1-C12 hydrocarbons, fixed gases and contaminants in under five minutes. This is critical for users as it allows for continuous logging of headspace gas from the mudbox, providing critical feedback for the drilling operation. Given the selectivity and sensitivity of high-pressure mass spectrometry (HPMS), which powers G908, this device provides more comprehensive analysis than traditional GC-only tools.

Environmental

Individually, the organic compounds that make up BTEX, benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene, are extremely violate. Benzene is a known carcinogen and toluene has been known to affect the reproductive and central nervous systems. BTEX compounds are often released during the drilling process, and are present in drilling muds, causing significant health and safety risks for operators.

Similar to natural gas monitoring, laboratory based GC and GC-MS instruments are typically used to perform BTEX monitoring, however as noted above, the size and complexity of these instruments have restricted their deployment. With G908, this analysis is brought directly to the point of need – in the field or mobile lab – providing faster more efficient measurements. The analyzer can detect and quantify components in the ppm to low ppb range, combining results into a single report, significantly increasing productivity.

As low prices, regulations, market dynamics and workforce fluctuations all continue to impact this global industry, increasing efficiency and reducing cost is more critical now than ever before. By leveraging innovative tools like G908, plant operators benefit from broader, more cost-efficient analysis capabilities directly at the point of need, cutting off problems at the pass. Leveraging G908 for various applications, users in the upstream sector can achieve critical measurements with ease and confidence.

Be sure to check back for our next posts, which will tackle how G908 can be applied to meet the needs of the midstream and downstream sectors.

By Graham Shelver, Commercial Leader, Applied Markets