Sogat 2017 to testify the growth of sour gar

The Sour Oil and Gas Advanced Technology event in Abu Dhabi in March is set to host over 500 delegates from the region to as far as China and Singapore. Oil & Gas Middle East is honoured to be a media partner for SOGAT 2017.

SOGAT offers  sour gas players the opportunity to showcase their portfolio and services.
SOGAT offers sour gas players the opportunity to showcase their portfolio and services.

A glance at the calendar for 2017, shows numerous events pertaining to the oil and gas industry scheduled to take place regionally and globally – much like every year. However, while most of these big-ticket events are platforms for engaging in trade and business networking, an industry as technically complex as oil and gas undoubtedly needs more niche avenues for industry professionals to meet, discuss and share knowledge on how to address some of the key challenges and issues that they face.

The Sour Oil and Gas Advanced Technology (SOGAT) 2017 has for over a decade established itself as one such event that seeks to promote the promises of the sour gas and sulphur segment within the industry and explore how the players involved stand to gain from this growing potential. SOGAT 2017, slated to be held in Abu Dhabi between March 26th and 30th, in its 13th edition will feature 25 technical presentations from various experts on topics including international concerns for sour processing plant on energy efficiency, increasing processing capacity, HSE reliability management, sulphur recovery unit (SRU) operational enhancement, improving amine treatment and CO2 management, and capture and usage – particularly in enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Apart from the conference sessions, SOGAT also serves as an exhibition offering the sour hydrocarbon segment’s suppliers, contractors and vendors the opportunity to showcase their portfolio and services during the three-day event, scheduled to take place at the Beach Rotana Hotel. Considering ADNOC’s pioneering work in the sour gas and sulphur space, mainly spearheaded by its group company Al Hosn Gas, it hardly comes as a surprise that an event hinging on the sector’s prospects would not be sponsored by the UAE major. However, the host of other patrons it attracts – international names this year, the likes of Occidental, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical and Technip – go a long way in cementing the event’s credibility.

Dome Exhibitions, SOGAT’s organiser, has elevated the event this year by managing to secure the sponsorship of Saudi Aramco. “Every year we attract new exhibitors, some of whom prefer to attend given the specialised focus of SOGAT compared with the broad approach taken by ADIPEC. For example, we are expecting COMPEX (BPC Engineering, Russia) to return this year,” Dr. Nick Coles, the director of Conferences at Dome Exhibitions told Oil & Gas Middle East. “Moreover, ADNOC has supported SOGAT every year. Al Hosn has been supporting it since the formation of their company and Oxy, ExxonMobil, Dow and other main sour hydrocarbon players have supported SOGAT. Also, Saudi Aramco have come on board for 2017.”

Looking back at the event’s growth trajectory over the years, Coles said, “I first worked on a conference with ADNOC in 1995 and thereafter they asked me to provide training on sulphur issues which I did with the help of Professor Ed Wichert in 2002. These training workshops in Abu Dhabi and Doha were very successfully and well attended. From the feedback I received I approached ADNOC in 2004-05, from which SOGAT was created and conducted, with attendance figures for the first event being 80 delegates and three exhibitors.”

“ADNOC’s support has continued every year since then and together with the workshops, conference and exhibition we annually receive 450 delegates throughout the whole week,” he said in retrospect.

The importance of processing gas has grown exponentially over the years in the region, particularly in the UAE, as the traditional methods of consuming oil to produce power has proved to be an expensive method and has also left oil producers with far lesser crude to export. Besides, processing gas – as the region’s reserves are highly sour and rich in sulphur content – has not only emerged as a commercially viable alternative but has also turned out to be a more convenient procedure to produce near-substantial volumes of electricity to meet the region’s surging power demand.

“Of course, we would all prefer to have clean, sweet gas coming out of the well. However, that is rarely the case in the Middle East. Sour gas is what we have to work with and it is our job as engineers to make desirable products like sweet natural gas, Natural Gas Liquids (NGL), Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), natural gasoline, and chemical feed stock,” Justin Slagle, a senior consulting engineer at Bryan Research & Engineering (BR&E), told O&GME.

BR&E, a consistent participant at SOGAT, is an engineering consultancy firm that has worked with major NOCs and IOCs as well as EPC contractors on sour gas projects in the region. “I do not claim to have a crystal ball to see the future, but I feel natural gas will continue to see growth in the Middle East. It is a clean burning, cheap, and abundant energy source with other valuable products waiting to be extracted from it,” Slagle says.

Pierre Crevier, founder and president of Crevier Process Consulting – an independent consultancy, voices a similar opinion about the benefit of processing sour gas: “As global consciousness of the importance of limiting CO2 emissions continues to evolve, the use of gas will only increase. There is also the matter of regional economics; using crude oil for power generation and petrochemicals locally means less is available for export which hurts national budgets. To the extent that this usage can be offset with local gas, it benefits the GCC and surrounding countries.”

The organiser claims that apart from Aramco’s support for the event, SOGAT 2017 will likely witness a bigger gathering of industry professionals than previous years. “I am in the process of finalising an agreement with the ADNOC company subsidiaries, whereby a group of 100 delegates will be invited to attend SOGAT 2017. If these invitations are taken up, it will only go on to enhance the number” of delegates attending, which Coles earlier estimated to be about 450. Besides, “every year the SOGAT Call for Participation attracts new regional and international developments. Also, we are expecting new delegates coming from Singapore and China,” he says.

Participants seem equally enthusiastic about SOGAT this year. Slagle says his focus will be on two key areas this edition. “First, I will be teaching a workshop at SOGAT focussed on understanding the primary sour processes. The workshop will pick out some challenging cases I have faced in my consulting and work through how to solve various problems in the plant. Every plant has a story. The key is to understand what various symptoms in the plant tell you and to learn how to fix it. I will also provide some instruction on designing these plants to avoid such problems. Teaching this workshop is very enjoyable. Engineers inevitably bring up some of the issues they face in their plants and this is a great opportunity to learn from each other.”

“Second,” he continues, “I will present a paper in one of the sessions on methanol entering the amine system. Methanol is commonly used to suppress hydrates through various equipment upstream of the amine sweetening unit. A lot of times that methanol starts to build up in the amine system. My paper focusses on how to deal with this problem. I also have some case studies to show.”

SOGAT, participants feel, is a fairly balanced industry conference and exhibition which provides equal opportunities for both technical knowledge sharing and workshops, as well as business networking. “Over the past seven years, I have done both” presenting papers and networking, Slagle says. “Every year there are opportunities that come out of SOGAT for new business or collaboration in developing new technology. I’m looking forward to it (this year).”

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