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Osaka Gas believes that technologies serve as the foundation of corporate competitiveness, and considers R&D to be one of the most important elements in the strategy to make a difference.
For this reason, Osaka Gas works actively on R&D and commercialization of new technologies, as presented below.
Environmentally-friendly natural gas is receiving international attention as alternative energy to oil. However, natural gas from small- and medium-sized gas fields, which accounts for a large part of global natural gas reserves, and associated gas from oilfields remain unutilized due to unassured business viability. There is an urgent need for development of gas-to-liquids (GTL) conversion as a key technology to promoting the utilization of such natural gas.
In the GTL process, natural gas is first converted into a synthetic gas which consists primarily of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, from which liquids are produced, such as diesel oil, kerosene, methanol and dimethyl ether (DME).
There are various reasons for the interest in GTL products. They can be transported and stored at normal temperatures using the existing infrastructure. In addition, GTL products are cleaner than petroleum-based fuels, since the exhaust gas contains significantly lower levels of particulate matter (PM) and NOx, and no SOx.
Osaka Gas is working on developing2 a new gas synthesizing process (AATG process) using the Company's years of experience in catalyst technology applied to on-site hydrogen production systems, fuel cell hydrogen production systems and so on.
We have conducted a demonstration test on a pilot plant scale (plant capacity: approx. 2,000 Nm3/h), which revealed that the AATG process produces synthetic gas safely and stably. Moreover, engineering data we obtained indicates that the AATG process is superior to conventional methods in terms of construction cost and CO2 emissions from production processes. To produce GTL products from associated gas at an offshore oilfield, it is necessary to synthesize gases on a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) system or other offshore facilities. Since high-purity oxygen gas may not be available as oxidant for such facilities, we commenced a demonstration AATG process test in fiscal 2008 using low-purity oxygen gas and air. The test results obtained so far are favorable.
The AATG process is suited not only to synthesis gas production process for GTL systems, but also to synthesis gas production process used for ammonia, methanol and DME production. Osaka Gas is promoting the implementation of the process in gas synthesis systems for commercial use at chemical plants in Japan.
■Awards Osaka Gas received for AATG
The AATG process is a synthesis gas production process in which high-performance desulphurization developed by Osaka Gas and catalytic partial oxidation are combined. In comparison with the conventional process that combines steam reforming and autothermal reforming (ATR) using burner, the AATG process has the following features.
If an oilfield is close to an energy consuming area, there are some ways to use associated gas from the oilfield. The associated gas can be transported via a pipeline and consumed as city gas. Alternatively, a power plant can be built near the oilfield with electricity transmitted via a electrical power transmission line. If the oilfield is in a remote place from energy consuming areas and it is not possible to reinject into the oil well, the associated gas must be flared. A total of some 150 billion m3 a year (accounting for approximately 5% of the world's annual LNG production) of associated gas is flared on the globe, without being used as an energy source, yet releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In recent years, offshore oilfields far distant from energy consuming areas are increasing in number, posing the challenge of how to use associated gas efficiently. One solution is GTL production using associated gas as raw material. Compared with flaring, this solution will bring about some 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and, additionally, GTL products for efficient energy use.
The AATG process is simple and compact and enables reducing fired heaters. These features make the process suitable for synthesis gas production process for use in offshore GTL plants that use associated gas as raw material, since in such applications installation spaces are limited.
Osaka Gas is promoting the implementation of commercial systems within the extent that the technology is effective, as proven with the pilot plant.
AATG is a registered trade name of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and JGC Corporation.