Natural Gas Cyprus

Natural Gas information for Cyprus and the region. EnergyNewsCyprus.com brings you information about gas systems and issues in the natural gas industry in Cyprus.

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Over the next few decades the natural gas industry is set to transform Cyprus and become one of the most technologically advanced industries in the Country. New innovations and explorations are reshaping the industry into a technology leader. This section will discuss the role of technology in the evolution of the natural gas industry, focusing on technologies in the exploration and production sector in Cyprus, as well as a few select innovations that will have profound effect on the potential for natural gas in Cyprus.

New exploration techniques and vibrational sources mean less reliance on explosives, reducing the impact of exploration on the environment. New exploration techniques and vibrational sources reducing the impact of exploration on the environment.

Some of the major recent technological innovations in the exploration and production sector include:

  • 3-D and 4-D Seismic Imaging – The development of seismic imaging in three dimensions greatly changed the nature of natural gas exploration. This technology uses traditional seismic imaging techniques, combined with powerful computers and processors, to create a three-dimensional model of the subsurface layers. 4-D seismology expands on this, by adding time as a dimension, allowing exploration teams to observe how subsurface characteristics change over time. Exploration teams can now identify natural gas prospects more easily, place wells more effectively, reduce the number of dry holes drilled, reduce drilling costs, and cut exploration time. This leads to both economic and environmental benefits.
  • CO2-Sand Fracturing – Fracturing techniques have been used since the 1970s to help increase the flow rate of natural gas and oil from underground formations. CO2-Sand fracturing involves using a mixture of sand proppants and liquid CO2 to fracture formations, creating and enlarging cracks through which oil and natural gas may flow more freely. The CO2 then vaporizes, leaving only sand in the formation, holding the newly enlarged cracks open. Because there are no other substances used in this type of fracturing, there are no ‘leftovers’ from the fracturing process that must be removed. This means that, while this type of fracturing effectively opens the formation and allows for increased recovery of oil and natural gas, it does not damage the deposit, generates no below ground wastes, and protects groundwater resources.
  • Coiled Tubing – Coiled tubing technologies replace the traditional rigid, jointed drill pipe with a long, flexible coiled pipe string. This greatly reduces the cost of drilling, as well as providing a smaller drilling footprint, requiring less drilling mud, faster rig set up, and reducing the time normally needed to make drill pipe connections. Coiled tubing can also be used in combination with slimhole drilling to provide very economic drilling conditions, and less impact on the environment.
  • Measurement While Drilling – Measurement-While-Drilling (MWD) systems allow for the collection of data from the bottom of a well as it is being drilled. This allows engineers and drilling teams access to up-to-the-second information on the exact nature of the rock formations being encountered by the drill bit. This improves drilling efficiency and accuracy in the drilling process, allows better formation evaluation as the drill bit encounters the underground formation, and reduces the chance of formation damage and blowouts.
  • Slimhole Drilling – Slimhole drilling is exactly as it sounds; drilling a slimmer hole in the ground to get to natural gas and oil deposits. In order to be considered slimhole drilling, at least 90 percent of a well must be drilled with a drill bit less than six inches in diameter (whereas conventional wells typically use drill bits as large as 12.25 inches in diameter). Slimhole drilling can significantly improve the efficiency of drilling operations, as well as decrease its environmental impact. In fact, shorter drilling times and smaller drilling crews can translate into a 50 percent reduction in drilling costs, while reducing the drilling footprint by as much as 75 percent. Because of its low cost profile and reduced environmental impact, slimhole drilling provides a method of economically drilling exploratory wells in new areas, drilling deeper wells in existing fields, and providing an efficient means for extracting more natural gas and oil from un-depleted fields.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing also called “Fracking,” or “Frac’ing”– Used to free natural gas that is trapped in shale rock formations.  A liquid mix that is 99 percent water and sand is injected into the rock at very high pressure, creating fractures within the rock that provide the natural gas a path to flow to the wellhead.  The fracking fluid mix also helps to keep the formation more porous.  Hydraulic fracturing is now widely used, with more than 90 percent of the natural gas wells in the United States having used it to boost production at some time.

The above technological advancements provide only a snapshot of the increasingly sophisticated technology being developed and put into practice in the exploration and production of natural gas and oil. New technologies and applications are being developed constantly, and serve to improve the economics of producing natural gas, allow for the production of deposits formerly considered too unconventional or uneconomic to develop, and ensure that the supply of natural gas keeps up with steadily increasing demand.

Two other technologies that are revolutionizing the natural gas industry include the increased use of liquefied natural gas, and natural gas fuel cells. These technologies are discussed below.

Liquefied Natural Gas

Cooling natural gas to about -260°F at normal pressure results in the condensation of the gas into liquid form, known as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). LNG can be very useful, particularly for the transportation of natural gas, since LNG takes up about one six hundredth the volume of gaseous natural gas. Advances in technology are reducing the costs associated with the liquification and regasification of LNG. Because it is easy to transport, LNG can serve to make economical stranded natural gas deposits from around the globe for which the construction of pipelines is uneconomical.

LNG, when vaporized to gaseous form, will only burn in concentrations of between 5 and 15 percent mixed with air. In addition, LNG, or any vapor associated with LNG, will not explode in an unconfined environment. Thus, in the unlikely event of an LNG spill, the natural gas has little chance of igniting an explosion. Liquification removes oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulfur, and water from the natural gas, resulting in LNG that is almost pure methane.

LNG is typically transported by specialized tanker with insulated walls, and is kept in liquid form by autorefrigeration, a process in which the LNG is kept at its boiling point, so that any heat additions are countered by the energy lost from LNG vapor that is vented out of storage and used to power the vessel.

Natural Gas Fuel Cells

Fuel cells powered by natural gas are an extremely exciting and promising new technology for the clean and efficient generation of electricity. Fuel cells have the ability to generate electricity using electrochemical reactions as opposed to combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity. Essentially, a fuel cell works by passing streams of fuel (usually hydrogen) and oxidants over electrodes that are separated by an electrolyte. This produces a chemical reaction that generates electricity without requiring the combustion of fuel, or the addition of heat as is common in the traditional generation of electricity. When pure hydrogen is used as fuel, and pure oxygen is used as the oxidant, the reaction that takes place within a fuel cell produces only water, heat, and electricity. In practice, fuel cells result in very low emission of harmful pollutants, and the generation of high-quality, reliable electricity. The use of natural gas-powered fuel cells has a number of benefits, including:

  • Clean Electricity – Fuel cells provide the cleanest method of producing electricity from fossil fuels. While a pure hydrogen, pure oxygen fuel cell produces only water, electricity, and heat, fuel cells in practice emit trace amounts of sulfur compounds and very low levels of carbon dioxide. However, the carbon dioxide produced by fuel cell use is concentrated and can be readily recaptured, as opposed to being emitted into the atmosphere.
  • Distributed Generation – Fuel cells can come in extremely compact sizes, allowing for their placement wherever electricity is needed. This includes residential, commercial, industrial, and even transportation settings.
  • Dependability – Fuel cells are completely enclosed units, with no moving parts or complicated machinery. This translates into a dependable source of electricity, capable of operating for thousands of hours. In addition, they are very quiet and safe sources of electricity. Fuel cells also do not have electricity surges, meaning they can be used where a constant, dependable source of electricity is needed.
  • Efficiency – Fuel cells convert the energy stored within fossil fuels into electricity much more efficiently than traditional generation of electricity using combustion. This means that less fuel is required to produce the same amount of electricity.

The generation of electricity has traditionally been a very polluting, inefficient process. However, with new fuel cell technology, the future of electricity generation is expected to change dramatically in the next ten to twenty years. Research and development into fuel cell technology is ongoing, to ensure that the technology is refined to a level where it is cost-effective for all varieties of electric generation requirements.

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