Developing gas infrastructure

Three decades of sanctions and conflict have left Basrah Province’s natural gas infrastructure both inadequate

to process the volumes of natural gas produced in southern Iraq and in a poor state of repair.

This is despite the hard toil of a generation of Iraqi engineers, often working because of circumstance in some of the most difficult conditions seen anywhere in the global oil and natural gas industry.

BGC took responsibility for Basrah Province’s natural gas infrastructure in May 2013. Our first urgent task was to rehabilitate the natural gas gathering and processing infrastructure that was already in place. Our goal is nothing less than to complete 30 years of maintenance work inside just a few years.

After a competitive tendering process, BGC contracted four of the world’s leading oildfield services companies to assist in this rehabilitation work – GE, Saipem, Technip and Chiyoda.

BGC’s own workforce of over 5,500 has been supplement by hundreds of engineers and workers either employed in or deployed to Basrah Province by these contractors to work on BGC projects.

We are inspecting and repairing some 1,800 kilometers of pipelines, and nine compressor stations in Rumaila field. In addition, we are currently repairing the 40 inch West Qurna 1 pipeline. This will enable us to process associated gas from West Qurna for the first time by connecting the field to the North Rumaila processing plant. West Qurna 1 today flares around 150 million standard cubic feet per day, enough to power one million homes and produce 16 million LPG cylinders per year.

We are also rehabilitating major processing plants at North Rumaila and Khor Al Zubair, as well as our marine and storage terminal on the coast at Umm Qasr.

We expect our rehabilitation work to increase BGC’s processing capacity to around 1.3 billion standard cubic feet per day.

We will then be able to capture more than 80 per cent of the gas that the upstream oil ventures currently expect to produce, and will in turn eliminate the equivalent of around 38 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the amount emitted by around 6.6 million cars.

The usual practice in the oil and gas industry would be to stop production whilst carrying out this kind of challenging rehabilitation programme. However we know that every molecule of gas is important to increase power availability in Basrah. We are carefully planning our rehabilitation work to maximise production, and making every effort to safely add production as quickly as possible. An example of this includes the installation of three temporary compressors to increase, immediately, the flow through our pipelines to our processing plants.

As a result, electricity was more available in Basrah in the hot summer months of 2014, when demand peaks, than it was in the same period in the previous year. In March 2015 we achieved production of 515 million standard cubic feet per day.

We recognise that rehabilitation alone will not be enough. That is why we are simultaneously working on further development. 

Our expansion projects includes additional pipelines and nine new compressor stations, to improve gas gathering capabilities.

It also includes upgrade work at the North Rumaila gas processing plant and the development of an additional jetty at the Umm Qasr Marine Terminal.

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4 Dec 2014