A New Proprietary Hybrid-Solvent Process for Improved Mercaptan Removal
- Renaud Cadours (Total S.A.) | Virenkumar Shah (Total S.A.) | Claire Weiss (Total S.A.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction
- Publication Date
- December 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 166 - 172
- 2011. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 7.4.3 Market analysis /supply and demand forecasting/pricing
- Gas sweetening, Acid gas, Hybrid Solvent, Mercaptan, HySWEET process
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 330 since 2007
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Removing mercaptans from sour natural gas has always been considered a challenge. This is becoming an even more important issue with the global trend toward more-stringent specifications for commercial gases.
Amines have been used extensively because of their ability to meet the most severe H2S and CO2 specifications and their very high acid-gas selectivity over hydrocarbons, but they present very limited mercaptans-removal performances. They require an additional treatment step to achieve the total sulfur-content specification in the exported gas. Hybrid solvents are more efficient in removing mercaptans but have the disadvantage of poor acid-gas selectivity over hydrocarbons, resulting in hydrocarbon losses with the separated acid gases.
Total, taking advantage of its extensive knowledge and experience in acid-gas removal with amine mixtures, has developed a new proprietary hybrid-solvent formulation allowing simultaneous absorption of acid gases and of mercaptans, with limited coabsorption of hydrocarbons. (The new hybrid solvent process is Total's proprietary process known as the HySWEET® process, which is a registered trademark.) The solvent was selected at the laboratory scale, with a particular attention given to operation-related constraints (e.g., cost, corrosion, foaming, degradation). The new solvent's acid-gas- and mercaptans-removal performances were then validated on a pilot rig.
The performance of the process has been assessed for several field applications and compared with the performances of conventional amine processes. This allowed evaluating the potential gain achievable by the implementation of the new hybrid solvent. The study identifies the application cases for which the new hybrid solvent will allow an economic and complete mercaptan removal without any additional treatment and identifies the perspective reduction of these additional treatments for the other cases. Besides an economical mercaptan removal, the new hybrid solvent allows a significant reduction in the energy consumption.
The results of the technoeconomic evaluation of the process have been confirmed during the first successful industrial application at the Lacq sour-gas plant in 2008. Half of the gas production is now treated with the hybrid solvent, allowing the plant to achieve high global mercaptans removal.
These results are fully documented in the paper, demonstrating that the newly developed process is a good contender for the development of new sour-gas fields to achieve the increasingly stringent commercial gas specifications.
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