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Honeywell’s UOP technology selected by Petrobras for offshore natural gas processing in Brazil

UOP Separex process technology to clean natural gas aboard four new Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels operated by Petrobras

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UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that its technology has been contracted by PNBV, a subsidiary of Petrobras, to supply UOP Separex membrane systems to process natural gas 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.

Honeywell’s UOP Separex membrane systems will be installed aboard the FPSOs to remove carbon dioxide and water from 7 million standard cubic meters of natural gas per day. Earlier this year, Honeywell’s 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. We are pleased Petrobras has once again accepted this technology.”

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

Honeywell’s UOP 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.

Honeywell’s UOP 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 has utilized Honeywell’s advanced polymer technology capabilities to continue innovating Separex membranes for higher flux and higher selectivity. Higher flux means operators can process more gas using the same elements. Higher selectivity allows operators to maintain more high-value hydrocarbons during processing, which increases the customer’s bottom line.

Separex membranes eliminate the need for solvents, 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. 

Last year, Honeywell’s UOP expanded its natural gas offerings by acquiring 70 percent stake in Thomas Russell Co., a leading provider of technology and equipment for natural gas processing and treating, and by establishing the UOP Russell product line. The UOP Russell line includes technology and modular equipment that allows shale and conventional natural gas producers to remove contaminants from natural gas, and to recover high-value natural gas liquids used for petrochemicals and fuel.

In 2011, Honeywell’s UOP expanded its portfolio of natural gas hydrocarbon management technologies through a marketing alliance with the Netherlands-based Twister B.V. The company now offers the Twister supersonic gas separation technology, which is used to remove water and heavy hydrocarbons present in natural gas when it comes out of the ground. Honeywell’s UOP also has a marketing alliance with Ortloff Engineers Ltd. for natural gas separation technology to recover NGLs.