With the rapid growth of shale gas and burgeoning interest in renewable gas production, today’s natural gas system operators are facing the need to compare the composition of these new supply sources with historical supplies prior to acceptance into their systems.
The challenge facing all industry segments – producing, processing, transmission and distribution – is to establish a common understanding and knowledge base about gas quality and interchangeability issues based on good science. That understanding would serve as the foundation for a productive dialog about gas quality requirements that would make it possible for these new supplies to reach the market in an efficient manner.
To date, attempts to address the resulting infrastructure issues and information gaps have been largely localized and fragmented. This creates pockets of knowledge and expertise that has resulted in prolonged tariff negotiations. There is a need for a centralized informational resource that would provide information and expertise on critical gas quality issues.
A New Center Of Excellence
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) – an independent not-for-profit organization that has been meeting the research and development needs of the natural gas industry for 70 years – has taken the first steps toward the establishment of a Gas Quality Resource Center (GQRC).
The GQRC would serve as a clearinghouse for information related to gas quality that would provide analysis of flowing gas supplies in North America, identify constituent trends across regions, analyze technical and regulatory trends associated with pipeline tariff negotiations and identify the data and research needed to fill important information gaps.
Offered as a subscription-based service, the GQRC would provide participating members with technical resources covering traditional, unconventional and renewable gas; create a community of industry experts; transfer knowledge through industry workshops on specific gas quality issues; and provide technical guidance and consultation by GTI experts.
The vision for the GQRC is to encompass extensive data resources, including:
1) Listing of intrastate and interstate pipeline tariffs for efficient comparisons by constituent limits,
2) Searchable summary of current open FERC dockets involving gas quality issues,
3) Real-time links to pipeline gas quality postings,
4) Web-based reference library of technical publications,
5) Summary of current publicly available research,
6) Identification of data gaps and research opportunities,
7) Analysis protocols and technical guidance for testing,
8) Electronic calculators for analyzing new supplies, and
9) Gas quality management plans and guidance documents.
Subscriber And Industry Benefits
In addition to the inherent technical value it will offer subscribers, the GQRC will help the industry establish a common understanding and provide a sound technical basis for informed decisions about new supply options. By providing comprehensive information, data, and expert guidance and support, the GQRC will aid in ensuring continued system integrity and reliability, while enabling the proliferation of new supplies of clean-burning natural gas for expanded use in growth sectors such as power generation and transportation.
Operations Technology Development (OTD), a member-controlled partnership of natural gas distribution companies formed to develop, test, and implement new technologies, has already signed on to sponsor the GQRC program – and OTD member Bob Wilson of National Grid is enthusiastic about the benefits the industry will realize from the center.
“The Resource Center, under GTI’s leadership, will help relieve various industry segments from developing ‘pockets’ of industry expertise, providing a more efficient use of resources via centralizing and capitalizing on existing technical expertise,” Wilson said. “This ‘one-stop shop’ is not driven by policy, but rather by the science necessary to support collaborative policy decisions as recommended in the FERC Gas Quality Policy Statement.”
If your organization is interested in joining the GQRC, or you would like more information about the GQRC vision, contact Andy Hammerschmidt, GTI R&D Manager, at Andrew.hammerschmidt @ gastechnology.org. www. gastechnology. org.