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GAZPROM: looking wsetwards

Summary

The largest producer of gas in the world is at a crossroads; the next twelve months may determine whether it will achieve its ambitions of becoming the largest gas supplier to western Europe.

Abstract

I n 1994, the Commonwealth of Independent States, plus eastern Europe, produced a combined total of 764 bcm of gas. Over the next 20 years, this figure is expected to double, as the contractions in GDP caused by transition to a market economy begin to turn into more rapid growth. Countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic are already far advanced on this curve, with Poland not far behind. Others, such as Russia, which have had a slower transition from central management, will take longer to achieve the 5% and greater growth rates now seen in parts of the former Eastern Bloc. By and large, it is anticipated that gas will fuel this rapid growth. 84% of the Former Soviet Union's gas comes from Russia, and virtually all of this is in the hands of just one company; Gazprom. It is thus Gazprom's plans which will shape the future of energy use in the region.

Gazprom's production of natural gas has been falling for the past few years, down from its 1991 peak of 600bcm. However, in 1994 it fell just 1.7% to 570bcm, and the company believes that it has now turned the corner, and is beginning to expand production again. Much of the fall has been due to a collapse of Russian industrial demand for gas as the economy has contracted. Gazprom has attempted to compensate with increased supplies to domestic users, but in the past year it has become abundantly clear that as long as domestic sales remain heavily subsidised, Gazprom's best hope is to find foreign markets for its gas. In 1995, Gazprom anticipates that it will double exports of gas, from 61 bcm, to 120bcm, and much larger increases are planned.

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Controlling new ammonia plant investment

Summary

A new advanced design and cost estimating tool based on Icarus 2000 has been developed by Brown & Root Petroleum and Chemicals to provide better project scope definition when evaluating the capital cost for new plants and revamp proJects.

Abstract

Brown & Root Petroleum and Chemicals (B8tRPC) unveiled a new advanced computer- aided design and estimating tool for the quick and accurate evaluation of capital costs for new plants and revamp projects at its recent Ammonia Plant Seminar in Alhambra. The new tool is a modified version of Icarus 2000, a fully integrated, self contained, preliminary design, estimating and scheduling system for evaluating major process plant projects worldwide.

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When the going gets tough

Summary

Low-temperature shift catalysts are expensive and easily damaged. Their efficiency and active life have been increased greatly by improvements in their design and operation, but economic and environmental considerations are imposing even more challenging demands.

Abstract

The main process steps in the predominant amnionia manufacturing process - that based on steam reforming of light hydrocarbons - are the following.

  • Feedstock desulphurization - to safeguard catalysts in subsequent stages against poisoning.
  • Pritnary reforming - to convert steam and hydrocarbon into carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
  • Secondary reforIlling - to convert remaining hydrocarbon (methane) to more carbon monoxide and hydrogen and to introduce the nitrogen needed for ammonia synthesis.
  • High-teIllperature CO shift (HTS) - for bulk conversion of carbon monoxide and water vapour into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
  • Low-teIllperature CO shift (L TS) - to convert as much as possible of the remaining carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide.
  • CO2 reIlloval- for bulk removal of carbon dioxide.
  • Methanation - to convert remaining traces of carbon oxides to methane and thus to protect the ammonia catalyst and separation section from impairment.
  • The synthesis loop - actual synthesis and separation of ammomao

This article is concerned with the CO shift section, and particularly with the low-temperature section. Readers wishing to place the CO shift in the context of the ammonia process as a whole are recommended to refer to the very full survey of the ammonia process and its constituent parts by Dr Max Appl, published previously in Nitrogen.

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Superconverter and catalyst update

Summary

The Superconverter has been selected for the new 2,500 tid methanol plant at Saudi Methanol Company in Saudi Arabia. Shoji Uematsu of MGC reports on operating experience with the Superconverter and presents test results for MGC's new catalyst.

Abstract

The Superconverter, jointly developed by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical (MGC) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has been described in previous issues of Nitrogen (No. 207 Jan/Feb 1994, 27-28 and No. 210 JullAug 1994, 41-41). It is a simple double tubular heat exchanger for methanol synthesis. The methanol synthesis catalyst is packed in the annular space between the inner and outer tubes.

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Gas turbine drivers: a lower cost option

Summary

A. M. Dark* and R. N Grundy** consider the attractiveness of gas turbines as an alternative to an integrated steam system with its steam turbine drivers for a new low znvestment cost methanol plant.

Abstract

The previous article in this series (Nitrogen SejilOct 95 pp. 33-40) studied the steam system found in a conventional 2,000 tid methanol plant. Having analysed various costs, it raised a question about the cost effectiveness of steam for providing shaft power to the rotating machinery. In this complementary article, the cost of gas turbines as alternative prime movers for the same centrifugal compressors specified in the 2,000 tid methanol plant is considered.

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The metal dusting phenomenon

Summary

Metal dusting is a common cause of corrosion under certain conditions in ammonia and methanol plants. More research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of this phenomenon. This article reports on recent studies and experiences of metal dusting by Topsee and Chiyoda.

Abstract

Metal dusting is a high temperature c6rrosion phenomenon which is a well-known cause of severe damage under certain conditions in ammonia and methanol plants. Metals exposed to gases with a high carbon potential at temperatures of between 450°C and 850°C are frequently observed to disintegrate into fine metal and metal oxide particles mixed with carbon. These particles or "metal dust" may be transported away by gas leaving pits, grooves and holes in the metal surface. The appearance of the attacked material may vary considerably from an almost perfect surface with a small number of tiny pits to a very rough cauliflower-like surface, depending on the alloy, the processing of the material, the temperature, the gas composition and the number of mechanisms involved. Metal dusting is often characterized as catastrophic carburization, because in severe cases attacked parts can be totally damaged within a matter of weeks.

In methanol plants, metal dusting is often experienced downstream of the reformers. In ammonia plants, metal dusting has often been· observed as an attack on ferrules and the bypass liner in the waste heat boiler downstream of the secondary reformer. Severe damage to boiler bypass arrangements and superheaters downstream of the boiler and to the channels between the boiler and superheater have also been experienced (see Figs. 1 and 2).

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Coproduction of ammonia and methanol

Summary

Under certain circumstances the combined production of ammonia and methanol on a single plant can be an attractive option. leI I<.atalco has developed a SaturatorlDesaturator Scheme for coproduction of up to 0.25-3.0 tonne of methanol per tonne ammonza.

Abstract

Prior to the mid 1960s, when coal was a major feedstock for ammonia production, the high carbon to hydrogen content of coal made the coproduction of ammonia and methanol an attractive route to convert excess carbon in the ammonia plant to an added value product. However, the demise of coal as an economic feedstock and the availability of natural gas as a cheap and clean feedstock led to the departure of plants producing ammonia and methanol. Since the mid to late 1960s virtually no new plants have been built for the combined production of ammonia and methanol.

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