Petrobras picks UOP technology for offshore gas processing in Brazil

Honeywell's UOP has been contracted by Brazil's Petrobras to supply technology in the form of UOP Separex membrane systems to process natural gas, the companies confirmed on Wednesday.

The gas will be processed aboard four floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. The vessels will process natural gas extracted from Petrobras’ Lula pre-salt oil reserves, one of the largest and most significant worldwide oil discoveries in recent years.

The Separex membrane systems will be installed aboard the FPSOs to remove carbon dioxide and water from 7 million standard cubic meters/day of natural gas. Earlier this year, UOP announced a similar project with Petrobras for eight FPSO units to be operated in Brazil’s Santos basin oil fields.

“The high levels of carbon dioxide, space limitations, and extreme environmental conditions make natural gas clean-up in the Brazilian pre-salt fields a challenge, but UOP Separex technology was designed to excel under these circumstances,” said Rebecca Liebert, senior vice president and general manager for Honeywell’s UOP gas processing and hydrogen business unit.

“Separex systems are compact and solvent-free, and are often ideal for difficult-to-treat gas streams in remote locations, making it well-suited for offshore gas processing," she added. "We are pleased Petrobras has once again accepted this technology.”

In addition to providing Separex technology, UOP will provide ongoing offshore technical support and staff training for the project, which is expected to start up throughout 2016 and 2017.

UOP noted that it opened a sales office in Rio de Janeiro in 2011 to better serve the growing oil and natural gas sectors in Latin America. A significant portion of the membrane systems for this project will be fabricated locally in Brazil.

The Separex technology upgrades natural gas streams by removing carbon dioxide and water vapor. These contaminants must be removed to meet the quality standards specified by pipeline transmission and distribution companies, as well as end users of the natural gas.

UOP says it has utilized Honeywell’s advanced polymer technology capabilities to continue innovating Separex membranes for higher flux and higher selectivity. Separex membranes eliminate the need for solvents, the company says, which present challenges in marine applications.

Separex systems can be used onshore or offshore, at the wellhead or at gathering facilities. To date, more than130 of Honeywell’s UOP membrane systems have been installed worldwide. 

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