Shell Develops Technology to Remove Hydrogen Sulphide

A breakthrough Shell technology that uses sulphur-eating micro-organisms to process sour gas and cut emissions is to be installed at one of Canada's largest oil and gas energy trusts.

Canada's PrimeWest Energy expects improved environmental performance and reduced running costs when it adopts Shell Global Solutions' innovative biological gas desulphurisation technology to process high-pressure sour gas.

Developed by Shell Global Solutions International and Paques, the breakthrough gas-treating technology uses naturally occurring, sulphur-oxidizing micro-organisms to convert hydrogen sulphide to solid, fertilizer-grade sulphur. The Shell-Paques process is designed to achieve at least 99.8 percent sulphur recovery. PrimeWest will use the Shell-Paques process to purify its natural gas to sales specifications. The move will also reduce operating costs by not using third-party, off-site sulphur processing plants.

Under sublicense, New Paradigm Gas Processing Ltd. is retrofitting PrimeWest's Valhalla facility near Grande Prairie Alberta Canada using the technology. Start up is expected in May of this year. Tim Grainger, Chief Operating Officer at PrimeWest Energy, said: "We are really excited about installing this new, cutting edge technology. It is an environmentally friendly process that will cut our operating costs and put us in control of our infrastructure."

Opposition to sour-gas development has been fierce among the local community, but Todd Beasley, Vice President of New Paradigm Gas Processing, believes that PrimeWest's decision to opt for the technology will be seen as a positive move. He said: "In 2002, we successfully designed and commissioned the world's first high pressure application of the technology at EnCana's gas field in Bantry, Alberta. This facility has been in operation for more than a year, and the technology has demonstrated its ability to reliably and safely remove hydrogen sulphide with virtually zero emissions.

"The Shell-Paques technology satisfies both the producer's concerns and those of the local community. It is a proven, uncomplicated and cost-effective process for the producer and an intrinsically safe technology that provides unparalleled environmental compliance for nearby residents – it's an exceptional success story all around. "