Saudi Arabia’s gas-saving technology helps meet growing energy needs

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The Master Gas System (MGS) operated by Saudi Aramco led the Kingdom to reserve more than 18 billion cubic feet of gas per day in 2018 and meet growing energy demands, says experts.

Majed Al-Suwailem, a leading researcher at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), says that the advanced gas technology of Saudi Arabia has helped the country to take these energy-saving measures.

The MGS was developed to transport gas across Saudi with a network of gas-gathering facilities and pipelines to collect, process and use gas as fuel for power generation and feedstock for the gas-based petrochemical industries in Jubail and Yanbu.

As the need for dry gas in the power sector increased, MGS also expanded to include more oil and non-associated gas fields.

“As of 2018, the MGS gathered almost 3.5 trillion cubic feet per year and is one of the world’s largest single hydrocarbon networks. It includes 4,000 km of pipelines, 50 gas oil separation plants, seven gas plants and two natural gas liquid units,” says Al-Suwailem.

A recent study published by KASPARC, titled “Saudi Arabia’s Gas Flaring Mitigation Experience”, which was led by Al-Suwailem points out that the Kingdom is positioned fourth among the G20 nations in terms of flaring intensity (a measurement of cubic feet of gas flared per barrel of oil produced), following Italy, France and Turkey.

The research further says that most of the technologies Saudi Arabia using now like the zero discharge technologies at wellheads and gas flare recovery systems were employed much before in the facilities.

The report analyzes Saudi Arabia’s gas demand, domestic gas supply and natural gas trade in a global context, spots four reasons why the oil traders opt to flare or vent associated gas (a byproduct of oil extraction at wellheads and gathering stations), which includes infrastructure limitation, shortage financial incentive to collect and process gas, poor regulatory frameworks and binding contractual rights.

KAPSARC’s study advises countries to learn from Saudi Arabia’s measures in lowering gas flaring in the oil industry. Governments can exert pressure on operators to partner on flaring mitigation and also provide financial incentives to capture, process, compress and transport gas.