Gas processing

BGC operates two natural gas liquids (NGL) processing plants, at Khor Al Zubair and North Rumaila.

At these plants we remove contaminants from the natural gas and separate it into dry gas for delivery to power generators and valuable liquids which are made into LPG.

North Rumaila NGL plant

The North Rumaila plant was built in 1980 by Chiyoda. It is located 60 kilometres north of Basrah city. The plant directly employs some 800 Iraqi engineers.

The plant was originally constructed with a nameplate capacity of 680 million standard cubic feet per day of feed gas. There are two trains at the North Rumaila plant, one of which has been used to extract NGLs with the second treated as surplus. Train is an industry term for a production unit.

The North Rumaila plant processes natural gas from the North Rumaila field.

The natural gas is cleaned of impurities, such as CO2, H2S and water, and then separated into hydrocarbon gas and liquids. Dry gas is directly supplied to South Gas Company who in turn makes it available for local power generation. Natural gas liquids are sent by pipeline to our Khor Al Zubair plant, some 50 kilometres to the southeast, to be made into LPG and condensate.

Years of sanctions and conflict since its construction made maintenance of the North Rumaila plant very challenging, despite the work of talented South Gas Company engineers under difficult circumstances.

When North Rumaila was transferred to BGC in May 2013, the plant’s available capacity had shrunk to around 250 million standard cubic feet per day.

BGC is working hard to repair and upgrade the North Rumaila plant, to restore it to its original nameplate capacity. We are benefitting from the experience of engineers who have transferred to BGC from South Gas Company.

Whilst this challenging work is underway, the urgent energy needs of southern Iraq mean that production must continue. BGC has therefore adopted a sequential approach to the restoration work, shutting down only small sections of the plant at a time to keep production as high as possible.

BGC is working with Chiyoda and other companies to inspect some 18,000 different elements of the plant to assess detailed rehabilitation needs to restore the plant to its original technical standard. We are also moving onto refurbishment, to upgrade the plant’s technology. About 1,000 people are to be involved in this work.

We are also building a pipeline to connect the North Rumaila plant with the West Qurna 1 field.This will enable associated gas from that field to be processed for the first time, rather than flared.

Once repair and upgrade work is complete, the North Rumaila plant will be able to process enough dry gas to generate electricity for around ten million homes. It will also produce enough natural gas liquids to produce around 100,000 cylinders of LPG per day. This will reduce CO2 equivalent emissions from flaring by about 19 million tonnes per year, similar to taking 3.3 million cars off the road.


Khor Al Zubair NGL and LPG plants

The Khor Al Zubair (KAZ) plant is located near the coast, 30 kilometres south of Basrah City. The plant was originally built in 1983 and is one of the largest gas facilities in the region. When built, the Khor Al Zubair plant was considered a state of the art facility.

The Khor Al Zubair Gas plant consists of two NGL processing units and three LPG fractionation units. The NGL unit processes the associated gas from the South Rumaila and Zubair fields. The natural gas is separated into dry gas for power generation, and liquids which are cleaned to remove impurities and then fed to the LPG section.

The LPG section processes these liquids (also known as broadcut) from Khor Al Zubair itself and from the North Rumaila plant.

The LPG section produces propane, butane (which are mixed as LPG) and condensate. Khor Al Zubair is currently Iraq’s main producer of LPG. However local demand exceeds production, so further supplies of LPG have to be imported.

Butane, propane and condensate are pumped to the Umm Qasr Storage Terminal. From there they are delivered to South Gas Company for distribution into the local market.

The NGL section at Khor Al Zubair was built with a name plate capacity of 700 million standard cubic feet per day, or enough to supply more than 10 million homes with power. The LPG section’s name plate capacity is 13,200 tonnes per year, sufficient to fill around 600,000 LPG cylinders per day.

The difficult operating environment for the oil and gas industry in Iraq since the Khor Al Zubair plant was constructed has led to significant deterioration in its capacity. When BGC took over responsibility for the plants in May 2013 the NGL section was operating at about 30 per cent of its design capacity whilst the LPG plant was operating at only partial capacity.

BGC quickly began work to assess what was needed to restore the Khor Al Zubair plant to full nameplate capacity. A dedicated project team consisting of staff from Technip, who originally built the plant, and BGC was mobilized to site at the beginning of 2014.

Some 20,000 individual pieces of equipment are being inspected by this team, which has consisted of up to 70 people. The next step will be a fully-defined rehabilitation plan in the coming months.

There is a pressing need for energy in Iraq, with insufficient power for homes and businesses. For this reason, the work to restore the Khor Al Zubair plants has been planned to disrupt production as little as possible.

The rehabilitation project is expected to be complete in the next few years. Restoring Khor Al Zubair to its nameplate capacity will reduce flaring by over 20 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, similar to taking 3.5 million cars off the road.


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4 Dec 2014