Skip to main content

Thin film technology innovation drives advances in gas treatment: part two

Published by
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Read part one of the article here.

As the solution provider for process separation equipment, packages and skids, ProSep has been Fujifilm’s major partner in the testing and commercialisation of the Apura platform. ProSep has been piloting the technology with a dedicated set of customers over the last 20 months.

One particular operator has numerous gas processing facilities near its production operations, which typically use refrigeration and compression to eliminate water and separate hydrocarbon liquids in order to make saleable natural gas and liquid petroleum products. Some of the largest of these facilities are located near the company’s CO2 floods in the Permian Basin of West Texas and South East New Mexico. These plants separate the produced CO2 from the gas, creating a saleable hydrocarbon gas and reclaiming the CO2 for use in enhanced oil recovery projects.

The central site for the Apura pilot is located in California, which comprises a large portfolio of exploration and development opportunities and is located near Bakersfield – one of the premier heavy oil producing basins in the US for the last century. After careful assessment of the site operational conditions and incorporating customer’s criteria, ProSep installed the Apura modules in one complete bank of one of the skids in its gas plant.

Over the three-month pilot, the performance of the Apura membrane elements was evaluated and confirmed to have reached the performance criteria as specified in the test and agreed with the operator. The performance target was a lower limit of 86.5 percent hydrocarbon recovery, with Apura achieving recovery of 87.5 percent and almost 10 percent higher recovery versus incumbent CA-elements. This rate of hydrocarbon recovery is estimated to be worth US$474 000 per year per bank, versus the cellulose acetate elements, with a payback of less than nine months.

For the entire membrane gas plant (7 x 42-tube skids), an additional US$20 000 000 revenue per year is predicted. Meanwhile, the Apura permeate flow rate was 0.556 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD) per bank, against the performance target upper limit of 0.577 MMSCFD. As such, the Apura elements reduced the permeate flow by 35 percent, a reduction of 0.300 MMSCFD per bank.

Each skid treats approximately 20 MMSCFD of natural gas. The target is to have less than two percent of CO2 in the residue stream. The Apura membrane used during the pilot, operated comfortably within the specified residue CO2 criteria.

Apura performance versus CA.

Exploring the possibilities

New technology applications and sophisticated portfolio planning are key components of the operator’s success. Although the improved rate of hydrocarbon recovery enabled by Apura is attractive, there is a limit to how much gas the client can put in the pipeline given the volume of gas required to operate its plant.

The most attractive proposition is therefore the improved longevity of the Apura modules and the resultant reduction in OPEX. The operator is now looking at applying Apura membrane technology to several other areas of its operation, including the replacement of an amine system and a cryogenic plant, both of which currently require constant attention from a maintenance perspective.

For other oil and gas operators however, the increase in hydrocarbon recovery that the Apura platform can deliver will prove essential in the future. Gas production is increasingly performed in more challenging and varied circumstances such as offshore and arctic regions and where reservoirs are more contaminated and thus require extensive treatment of the produced fluids to meet the necessary specifications.

At the same time, the cost of production is under intense pressure. With production in remote locations, equipment and facilities must be more durable and more efficient. Combined with the fact that reservoirs are more contaminated and less easy to access, the Apura platform coupled with ProSep’s design, engineering, and packaging experience will enable producers to explore, exploit, and produce gas reservoirs on a more economical level.

Moreover, the cost benefit of the platform is a factor of efficiency once the return on investment is realized, because of the higher selectivity achieved via Apura. There are sites today where ProSep’s installations have generated millions of dollars per skid due to the higher selectivity of the Apura membrane, meaning reduced loss of hydrocarbons and higher revenue streams. In addition, the OPEX of cost per membrane element translates to a potentially vast cost savings and shorter pay-back period of the CAPEX when compared with conventional CA membranes.

Ultimately, the limits of the Apura technology platform for CO2 removal have yet to be determined. Working together, ProSep and Fujifilm are looking to enhance the membrane’s performance substantially, such that the outlook and possibilities of this technology will make a significant contribution to the renaissance underway in the US oil and gas industry, as well as to operators looking for more economic gas production for their global facilities.

By John Sabey, ProSep, and Onno Gerrits, Fujifilm. Adapted from press release by Joseph Green

Read the article online at:


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):