Combustion of natural gas is the preferred form of energy for the next decades. In spite of renewable energy projects being developed and funded strongly, a reliable source of energy must create the backbone of our national grids.
Approximately 40% of the world’s natural gas reserves are sour, meaning that H2S and CO2 is present most of the time. Among these sour reserves, more than 13% contain H2S in excess of 10%.
Removing the undesired acid gases from highly sour gases is a costly operation. The size and cost of the acid gas separation units and the acid gas-handling facilities (transformation of the H2S into sulfur and forming/shipping of the produced sulfur, or acid gas compression/pumping and re-injection facilities) increase with the amount of acid gases to separate. In the meantime, the exported volume of sales gas decreases because of the reduced hydrocarbon content of the inlet raw gas and the increased auto-consumption for gas treatment. Consequently, the technical cost per volume of exported sales gas is roughly doubled every 20-25% of additional acid gases present in the raw gas.
Sulfur, the traditional sub-product from the production of gases containing high amounts of H2S, formerly represented a substantial part of the revenues drawn from the production of natural gas. It is no longer of economic interest to sell sulfur from several areas today, as the world sulfur market is globally saturated.