It seems like a waste. Wherever oil is produced flares are often seen flickering from the ground or from tall stacks. Flares burn the gas that is brought to the surface with the oil. Processing these gases for sale is uneconomical, and the gas usually contains too much corroding hydrogen sulfide (H2S) for power generation. Yet the flares release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, sulfur oxides, and harmful soot into the atmosphere, which explains why environmental regulations continue to place further restrictions on this practice worldwide.
New technology from Siemens offers an option for using this gas, which is referred to as “sour gas” due to its high H2S content. The technology cleans the gas so it can be burned by gas turbines, which in turn generate power. “This technology requires very little space and helps oil production facilities operate more energy-efficiently and comply with environmental regulations,” explains project manager and engineer Ralph Joh from the Siemens Power and Gas Division.