Natural gas started flowing from the Jubilee Fields to the Atuabo Gas Processing plant yesterday, contrary to an advice given by the Energy Commission (EC).
The process began with the flow of 16 million standard cubic feet (scf) of gas for pre-commissioning and commissioning.
That followed the successful physical tie-in of the flexible riser of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to the onshore gas processing plant.
Earlier, the EC had written to stop the Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas) from flowing natural gas from the Jubilee Fields to the plant, fizzling out hope that the about $1-billion plant would start processing gas anytime soon.
Ghana Gas had announced that the plant was ready to receive gas, as all the necessary mechanical works had been completed, but the EC, in a terse letter dated November 8, 2014 to the company, warned that it was too risky to do so.
According to the EC, contrary to what Ghana Gas had said that all mechanical works had been completed several weeks ago, “hot work” was still ongoing.
The Wood Group, an independent audit group, had also cautioned against the commissioning of the plant with live gas, saying it was not the normal practice, given the time the plant had been sitting idle.
Signed by the Technical Director of the EC, Dr N.D.K. Asante, the letter listed some specific mechanical works being undertaken to buttress its position that the plant was not yet ready to receive gas.
It said, for instance, that “numerous pieces of pipe work, elbows, values, t-pieces, etc have been loaded off a truck to the site within the processing plant where these activities are taking place”.
Besides, it said “the Flare KO Drum (Sinopec equipment) D-9201 had disconnected pipe work on the liquid side”.
“There was no evidence of any permit allowing the plant to begin processing of gas. There is no obvious evidence of an appropriate permit-to-work being employed, and the required lock-out-tag-out system does not appear to be actively in place,” it added.
The EC asked Ghana Gas to furnish it with some key information, saying that until that was done and an independent technical advisor had given the green light for the plant to receive gas, the company would not be permitted to introduce hydrocarbons into any section of the plant,
The commission also asked Ghana Gas to provide a description of the construction work currently underway on the site and a statement detailing the impact of the construction work on the mechanical works that were previously declared complete.
It also required the company to provide “a statement on how this work impacts on the ability to safely commission the plant , as well as information on the specific safety measures taken to ensure that natural gas can be safely introduced to the plant while this work continues”.
It asked Ghana Gas to comply with the requirements and quickly resolve all outstanding issues in order not to delay the commissioning of the plant.
The gas flow began yesterday with the introduction of a low volume of gas for the pigging process to clear from the pipeline for the final flow of 16-million scf to the plant for pre-commissioning and commissioning.
Pipeline pigs are devices that are inserted into and travel throughout the length of a pipeline driven by a product flow or gas.
Pigs are originally developed to remove deposits which could obstruct or retard the flow of gas through a pipeline.
A source close to both Ghana Gas and the Jubilee Partners said the tie-in was successful and that almost all the nine pigs were out.
With the successful completion of the processing plant, it is expected that 120 million scf of gas would be processed daily.
The process will start with smaller volumes of about 16 million scf until it reaches the full capacity after 42 days.