First membrane technology application in Russia for helium recovery from natural gas

16 May 2013

The Grasys membrane plant for helium production fr om natural gas will be first tested in the Kovykta field. The decision of Gazprom OJSC on the plant manufacture and testing in this field is explained by its technical and climatic characteristics nearest to those of the Chayandin field in Yakutia wh ere the test results will be used for development of the industrial membrane helium plan. Also important is the fact that the Kovykta gas contains helium in commercial concentrations.

First membrane technology application in Russia for helium recovery from natural gas

This project is being implementing by RPC Grasys in conjunction with Gazprom dobycha Irkutsk LLC, Gazprom razvitie LLC, Gazprom OJSC subsidiary CKBN and Gazprom VNIIGAZ OJSC.

The Director of the RPC Grasys Hydrocarbon Projects Department Evgeny Eremin says: "In the course of work on this project our company developed certain engineering solutions for helium recovery from the total volume of the natural gas produced in the Kovykta field with the use of membrane technologies (including evaluation of the flow rates for the membrane gas separation plants used for helium production of a given natural gas volume). The company completed the development of the plant specifications and substation of the plant flow diagram and performed the analytical calculation of the gas separation process. The cooperation with Gazprom razvitie LLC, Gazprom OJSC subsidiary CKBN and Gazprom VNIIGAZ OJSC laid the basis for development of the pilot testing program and methodology.

The RPC Grasys Research and Development Department and Engineering Center are actively engaged in preparation of the design, engineering and operational documentation for the pilot commercial plant for helium production from natural gas in parallel with the equally active process of manufacture and preparation for shipment of the main and auxiliary equipment. Pursuant to the contract between RPC Grasys and Gazprom dobycha Irkutsk LLC, the commissioning is scheduled for late 2013, including membrane cartridges testing and tests monitoring with analysis of the test results. This project has serious strategic implications for the Russian gas market – therefore, it is highly important at this stage to determine the rational helium recovery technologies and designs".

First membrane technology application in Russia for helium recovery from natural gas

The tests will include checking the pilot plant suitability for the field operating conditions, namely: availability under the severe climatic conditions of Eastern Siberia and Far East.

This will be the first example of membrane technology use for helium production from natural gas. The results of the recent studies and tests allow suggesting that the membrane method of helium production is the most energy efficient one. With the plant commissioning and bringing on stream the commercial gas production in Eastern Siberia, Russia may become the world major helium producer.

This project is also part of the Grasys extensive R&D program. The continuous search for new technical and engineering solutions ensures permanent improvement of the company own technologies and allows offering industrial enterprises the highest-quality solutions.

The research and development activities of RPC Grasys are carried out at the company test benches in close collaboration with the leading research centers of RSC Kurchatovsky Institute and RAS IPS. Commercial tests of the Grasys new technological solutions are held in the Russia largest fields jointly with design institutes of the oil and gas companies.

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