Natural gas is a fossil fuel formed when layers of buried plants and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure over thousands of years. Natural gas generally comprises of methane. It can either be transported through pipeline or as liquefied natural gas (LNG) by vessels.
A vital component of the world's supply of energy, natural gas is one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources. Its 'residential uses' includes electricity, propane,kerosene and 'industrial uses', includes providing the base ingredients for such varied products as plastic, fertilizer, anti-freeze, and fabrics. It is consumed primarily in the pulp and paper, metals, chemicals, petroleum refining, glass, plastic, and food processing industries. Also, because of its clean burning nature and the fact that it is not made from petroleum, as gasoline and diesel are, many automakers around the world are developing vehicles to run on natural gas. All these factors combine to increase the demand of this gas and thus the need of Natural Gas Process Plants.
Natural gas, as it exists underground, is not exactly the same as the natural gas that is used by the consumer. The process of treating and producing usable natural gas starts with drilling the well and verification of the presence of commercially viable quantities of petroleum, the next step is actually lifting the natural gas or oil out of the ground and processing it for transportation. Since, the natural gas transported through pipelines must meet purity specifications to be allowed in, so most natural gas processing occurs near the well
The Natural Gas Plant Process
Natural gas processing consists of separating all of the various hydrocarbons and fluids from the pure natural gas as all the transportation pipelines impose restrictions on the make-up of the natural gas that is allowed into the pipeline. But only some of the needed processing can be accomplished at or near the source (popularly known as field processing), the complete processing of natural gas takes place at a processing plant.
The extracted natural gas is then transmitted the Natural Gas Plants. The process consists of four main processes to remove the various impurities:
- Oil and Condensate Removal
- Water Removal
- Separation of Natural Gas Liquids
- Sulfur and Carbon Dioxide Removal
In its liquid state, natural gas is called LNG, or liquid natural gas. This gas is produced by cooling natural gas to a temperature of minus 260 F. Liquid natural gas is easier to store than the gaseous form since it takes up much less space and is also easier to store.