Natural Gas Liquids
Natural gas liquids or NGL are called constituencies of natural gas, artificially liquefied by cooling to -160°C, to facilitate storage and transportation. Usually, a dissociation is carried out at gas treatment plants, as well as field conditions. The process implies absorption, condensation, and other means of separation. Moreover, the NGL products have a vast scope of applications.
Essence of Natural Gas Liquids
In fact, natural gas liquids represent a colorless, odorless fluid, whose density is 2 times lower than the density of water. NGLs are extracted from natural gas by compression, followed by cooling and their subsequent division into the particular components. Notably, when liquefied, natural gas is reduced in volume by about 600 times.
It’s worth remarking that natural gas is a mixture of methane, ethane, propane and butane with a small amount of heavier hydrocarbons and impurities. The exact gas composition depends on the place and method of its extraction.
Therefore, natural gas liquids consist of hydrocarbons, i.e. organic compounds comprising the atoms of carbon and hydrogen. Anyway, NGLs are purified from all substances, including moisture, nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other hydrocarbons.
Actually, natural gas liquids are of value, acting as individual products, while the selling process generates high returns for private and state entities.
Forms of Natural Gas Liquids
Natural gas liquids can be sectioned, according to the vapor pressure:
- High, meaning LPG.
- Average, assuming natural gas.
- Low, suggesting recondensed gas.
Moreover, the formulas of natural gas liquids can be resemblant, but their implementation areas differ greatly. NGLs are actively used in the petrochemical, fuel, commercial and municipal spheres. It serves as a raw material for the production of convenience goods, for instance, wearing apparels, components of mobile phones, house heating, etc.
Butane. Considered a significant component of the fuel mixture. For household objectives, the compound is introduced in a long-term fruit storage, as well as in aerosol sprayers. Butane delivers deodorants and other aromatic mixtures to the human body and clothing, after pressing a special valve.
Ethane. Used as a raw material in the chemical industry mainly for the production of ethylene. Ethylene, in turn, is considered one of the most important elements for organic synthesis, resulting in various types of compounds, such as polyethylene, dichloroethane, styrene, ethylbenzene, acetic acid, ethyl alcohol and many others. Ethylene is also used in medicine as a means for anesthesia.
Isobutane. Utilized as a fuel component for internal combustion engines. Moreover, the application area often includes the aerosol cans, as a filler.
Propane. Domestically, propane is applied as fuel for gas stoves, water columns, space heating (rooms, workshops, greenhouses, farms). As for the industrial purposes, propane is brought into requisition in metal cutting, welding of various structures and in procurement production.
Pentane. Referred to a solvent in extraction processes as a foamer of plastic masses. These hydrocarbons are contained in gas condensate, in oil and its petroleum derivatives, as well as shale resin processing products.
Issues and potentials for Natural Gas Liquids
Shale gale has boosted the output of natural gas liquids. Concurrently, crude oil prices are closely linked to the NGLs. The reason for that fact lies in the organizations, suggesting more to recuperate benefit losses, in case of market value reduction on crude oil.
Experience has proven that lots of large enterprises understood the need for innovations. So it is not surprising that the technology of drilling gas wells has undergone significant changes over the past decade. For instance, the application of Texas Two Step (TTS) allows companies to perform multi-zone hydraulic fracturing, which greatly simplifies the extraction of natural fossils. As a consequence, gas recovery, and in particular, natural gas liquids output, has risen substantially.
There is no doubt that the extraction of natural gas liquids pays off. So let’s consider certain advantages of NGLs:
- Accessibility of natural gas liquids has grown significantly.
- NGLs can be introduced in various spheres, for instance, houses heating, fuel, as well as plastics industry.
- Natural gas liquids are applied in petroleum based feedstocks, which are transformed into chemical materials.
- Gas operators obtain additional profit thanks to NGLs.
Nevertheless, particular disadvantages could be enumerated:
- Treatment, storage, and transportation processes of natural gas liquids are costly, as there is a need in tankers and custom equipment.
- There exists a limited number of markets, where natural gas liquids distribution is conducted.
- Liquid condition of gas can only be preserved by high pressure or frigid temperatures.