The Linde Group has been selected by Gazprom Pererabotka Blagoveschchensk, and its general contractor NIPIgas, as the licenser for cryogenic gas separation technology at the Amur Gas Processing Plant (Amur GPP), in the far east of Russia.
The technology company will engineer and supply units for ethane (C₂H₆) and natural gas liquids (NGL) extraction and nitrogen (N2) rejection, as well as for helium (He) purification, liquefaction and storage.
This contract follows the news of a previous engineering and supply contract between the two companies for the development of Amur GPP, reached in December 2015.
The plant forms part of Gazprom’s supply of Russian gas to China via the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline from eastern Siberian gas fields, and will be built in five phases ending in 2024. Phase one involves the construction of two C2H6 and NGL (propane, butane, pentane and hexane) extraction and N2 rejection units, and a He production unit.
When completed, the Amur GPP will be one of the largest plants in the world, producing up to 49bnm3 of natural gas per year.
The rise of global helium production from Russia is expected to excel from 2020, with substantial reserves of raw materials containing He situated in Eastern Siberia.
On top of this, Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, and Dr Wolfgang Büchele, CEO of Linde AG, recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement, which outlines their intentions to carry out both existing and future projects related to the natural gas value chain.
This deal covers process technologies, engineering and services related to the treatment and liquefaction of natural gas, and localisation of the respective equipment production in Russia. It also addresses the investment in, and production and operation of, He plants in the Eurasian country.
Dr. Büchele highlighted the success of such a contract and stated that, “Not only will Amur GPP be one of the largest natural gas processing plants in the world, Linde is looking forward to cooperating on projects and technologies which will support Gazprom in its efforts to better market natural gas and it by-products.”
The rise of global helium production from Russia is expected to excel from 2020, with substantial reserves of raw materials containing He situated in Eastern Siberia. In order to rival the US, which approximately controls over 50% of the world helium market, the development of the Russian He industry relies largely on both economic factors and the development of He extraction, production and distribution.
So it seems the new partnership of Linde and Gazprom is appropriately poised to hold significant promise for the future of He production from the country. But there are some sceptics.
Phil Kornbluth, President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting, outlined several difficulties of the project in a feature for gasworld magazine earlier this year and said, “With helium prices now trending downward, the economic viability of operating in this part of the helium business could prove challenging and there is a good chance of a future shakeout or consolidation among the companies operating in this space.”
“Unless the world’s demand for helium increases dramatically from current levels, it is hard to conceive that helium production from the Amur facility will ever approach the expected level and more likely that much of the helium extracted from this gas will be reinjected into the natural gas fields, or a dedicated underground storage facility, and stored for the future.”
The Linde Group