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Publication > Issue > Articles

Moving downstream

Summary

Trinidad's natural gas industries have so far focused on LNG exports and direct conversion into ammonia and methanol. However, as the island's syngas-based industry matures, so Trinidad is looking to add value by a series of downstream conversion projects.

Abstract

Trinidad’s economy has traditionally been oil-based, but during the 1980s and 1990s made considerable progress in developing the island’s considerable natural gas reserves, such that Trinidad’s gas-based industries overtook the declining oil industry over the last decade.

Gas production off Trinidad and Tobago is mostly in the hands of three companies. Of these, the largest is BP (via its merger with Amoco), with around 65% of production. A British Gas – Texaco joint venture supplies another 20%, and EOG (formerly Enron Oil & Gas) has another 10%. Trinidad’s National Gas Company and state oil company Petrotrin collectively own a further 4%, and Spain’s Repsol the remainder. The expansion of Trinidad’s natural gas industry has been startling. In September 2006 the combined gas output of Trinidad’s producers was 3,530 million cubic feet/day, equivalent to annual production of 36 bcm. This figure has more than quadrupled over the past decade, in no small measure due to continuing strategic investment by BP-Amoco. However, in spite of massive expansion in production, and despite a number of large discoveries during the 1990s, recent discoveries of natural gas have not been spectacular, and Trinidad’s proved reserves have grown by only about 50% over the past decade, to 550bcm.

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Focus on fuel

Summary

The World Methanol Conference and Exhibition was held at the Prague Hilton in the Czech Republic from November 28th-30th, in the shadow of the highest methanol prices on record, and a surging interest in methanol's fuel uses, especially as regards biofuels.

Abstract

CMAI’s John Bonarius began the conference with a review of global economic conditions and a five year forecast to 2011. Concerns about Japan and Western Europe have eased during 2006, and CMAI’s prediction was for the world economy to continue sustained growth of more than 3% for the forecast period as domestic consumption continues to grow, especially in China. Although the global economy remains vulnerable to political shocks and the US debt overhang remains serious, CMAI believe that the prospect for an economic ‘crash’ has declined to 25%.

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Ethanol in gasoline in the US; the other side of the story

Summary

Jim Crocco of Crocco & Associates takes a challenging look at the supposed advantages and disadvantages of ethanol as a fuel in the US.

Abstract

This article focuses primarily on the fuel ethanol situation in the USA with only a cursory look at Brazil and Europe. It brings to light the realities of ethanol blending into gasoline in the USA and diffuses some of the positive claims made by ethanol advocates.

Fuel ethanol mandates in the USA and western Europe are said to be implemented in order to decrease air pollution, increase the use of domestically or regionally produced fuels aimed at reducing energy imports and to assist the agricultural community. However, with the large demand for automotive fuels and the limited resources to regionally provide economically-produced alternative biofuels in these two regions, the industry faces a huge challenge. The situation in Brazil is somewhat different since that country has a relatively smaller consumption of automotive fuel in general, has large resources and land to significantly expand ethanol production and has been using ethanol as an automotive fuel for approximately 30 years. Ethanol production by fermentation, which is an expensive and non-economical process, is subsidized in all three regions by their respective governments.

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Experience as an adventage

Summary

Galina Pechnikova of JSC NIIK, Russia, discusses her company's design and equipment solutions for the nitrogen fertilizer industry.

Abstract

JSC ‘NIIK’ (Research and Design Institute of Urea and Organicb Synthesis Products) – is a full scale engineering company with experience and competences in renovation and construction of grass roots production and engineering facilities for the chemical industry. The engineering activities of JSC ‘NIIK’ have focused most recently on technologies concerning the production of urea, melamine and its derivatives (melamine cyanurate, melem). In addition to this, they are also active in sharing best practice in production of cyanides, isocyanates, phosgene and related compounds.

The company was established based on the Dzerzhinsk branch of the state-owned (in Soviet times) Institute of the Nitrogen Industry (more widely known by the acronym GIAP). Since its foundation in 1952, the joint experience of GIAP-Dzerzhinsk and later JSC ‘NIIK’ have been employed in the development of almost 100 production units built and still serviced by the company in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Byelorussia, Uzbekistan, Estonia and Algeria.

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These things happen...

Summary

AIChE's Ammonia Safety Symposium is the industry's principal annual opportunity to discuss accidents, malfunctions, troubleshooting and relevant technological development. This year's location was Vancouver.

Abstract

Although the primary concern of the AIChE Safety in Ammonia Plants and Related Facilities symposium is (obviously) safety, in fact most technological developments in the nitrogen industry – at least in the chemical synthesis plants – have an influence on safety, in the sense that anything that improves the integrity and durability of the hardware or the reliability and stability of its operation is likely, either directly or indirectly, to have positive safety implications. So in addition to the customary collection of papers on safety policies and procedures and on specific, safety-related incidents, their investigation and their solution, this symposium also habitually contains a sprinkling of papers on technological advances which, though at first sight apparently not motivated specifically by safety concerns, nevertheless make a positive contribution to safety, often embodying improvements developed in response to experience of the kind reported at the Ammonia Safety Symposium and other meetings. In addition, the industry faces other major concerns which, at least for some enterprises, could decide whether there is actually a future at all: for example, the greenhouse effect and other environmental considerations, and, in certain regions, crippling increases in feedstock costs.

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