A cryogenic processing facility or plant is a system where natural gas flowing from a well is cooled to subzero temperatures in order to condensate the liquids or natural gas liquids (NGL). Unlike the natural gas used by consumers, gas produced from oil well, gas well or condensate wells holds a number of gas liquids, apart from methane as a main constituent. NGLs include butane, ethane, and propane. Ethane and propane are the heaviest among these gases, and they require cryogenic processes for its separation form the natural gas. NGLs finds usage in refineries or in petrochemical plants, primarily as fuels or feedstock.
The methane gas that remains after the removal of NGLs is transported to the end-user via a pipeline. Cryogenic systems finds application in basic research, high tech and medical equipments & in the industry. In industry these systems are mainly used for obtaining desired gas products or liquid products by cryogenic separation. Apart from these NGLs, oxygen is also an important industrial gas. Oxygen cryogenic plants provide oxygen not only to industries but also to medical facilities.
However, the major application of cryogenic processing facilities remains in the oil & gas industry (midstream), where the plant is installed at the well site, the NGLs are separated on-site and then transported to consumers. A cryogenic processing plant separates the NGLs from natural gas by chilling the incoming gas stream from well to -120 degrees Fahrenheit. This reduced temperature allows a blended liquid hydrocarbon mixture to be collected, which later is fed into a fractionation plant. This fractionation plant finishes processing the liquid hydrocarbon into high purity of butane, propane, ethane, and natural gas.
The major driver for the market of cryogenic processing facilities is the increased usage of natural gas as fuel. The natural gas as compared to the conventional fossil fuel (oil) causes less carbon emission, proving to be a more mature and environment-friendly energy. The natural gas being produced from the subsurface is not pure and contains other heavy gas liquids. It is of prime importance to separate and recover the NGLs, as they find application in industrial uses. A cryogenic processing facility allows the processing and recovery of heavy gases on-site. This makes the transportation of NGLs and natural gas easier.
Another driver for this market is that the cryogenic facility increases the profitability of the conventional oil and gas operations. The NGLs separated are further treated and sold to end-users. Increased usage of NGV (natural gas vehicles) in developed as well as developing countries is another driver for the cryogenic processing facilities market. A major restraint for the cryogenic processing facilities market is the increasing usage of renewable energy resources. Another restraint is likely to be the cost involved in the installation of the plant or facility.
Demand for cryogenic processing facilities is estimated to rise, especially in North America. Recent development of shale oil and shale gas in the U.S. has increased the share of North America in the export of fossil fuels. In Middle East & Africa, cryogenic processing facilities are estimated to witness increased demand, especially in Qatar, due to the fact that the country holds a prominent deposit of natural gas. The cryogenic processing facilities market is likely to expand consistently in Asia Pacific and Europe due to increased usage of natural gas in the region.
Key players operating in the global cryogenic processing facilities market include ENERFLEX LTD, Honeywell International Inc., Joule Processing, SNC-Lavalin, Schlumberger Limited, Gas Liquids Engineering Ltd., GEA Group, Ross Group, and S-CON Inc.