Workers at ‘lethal’ Shah gas project to need air tanks, shelters

Abu Dhabi’s $10bn natural gas project ‘considered lethal’ in areas, says contractor
Workers at ‘lethal’ Shah gas project to need air tanks, shelters
SAFETY CONCERNS Shah poses a technical challenge because the gas it contains is mostly sour, or high in hydrogen sulfide, which can be fatal if inhaled (Bloomberg Images)
By Bloomberg
Tue 29 Mar 2011 12:56 PM

Partners in Abu Dhabi’s $10bn Shah natural gas project are adopting stringent safety measures to neutralise potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide contained in the deposit, a contractor for the facility said.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co and Occidental Petroleum Corp are designing their project around a “red zone” designating the most dangerous area where workers will be required to wear breathing tanks, said David Schulte, an engineer with contractor Fluor Corp. The facility will provide shelter and clean air to workers in case hydrogen sulfide is released into the atmosphere, he said.

“A big percentage of the plant is considered lethal,” Schulte said at a conference in Abu Dhabi today.

Shah poses a technical challenge because the gas it contains is mostly sour, or high in hydrogen sulfide, which can be fatal if inhaled. The project, scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2014, is located in a desert area about 180km from the city of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

Abu Dhabi, which holds most of the nation’s crude oil, is developing Shah because it has too little gas to run power plants to satisfy the UAE’s growing demand for electricity. The Gulf sheikhdom only began working on Shah more than 40 years after discovering it because the deposit was so difficult to develop, Schulte said.

Hydrogen sulfide will be stripped from the gas, and the sulfur component will be converted into a solid. The sulfur will then be transported 250km to be loaded on ships and exported for use in fertiliser or construction materials.

Capital spending on Shah is estimated at about $10bn, Occidental said on January 20 when the US company announced it was joining the project. The partners have renamed the development company as Al Hosn Gas from Abu Dhabi Gas Development Co.

Shah will process 1 billion cubic feet of sour gas a day into about 500 million cubic feet of fuel. Its daily output may also include 4,400 tonnes of natural-gas liquids, 35,000 barrels of condensates and 9,200 tonnes a day of sulfur.

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