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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Thal Project Of Underground Coal Gasification Is Full Of Technical Faults

The Thar Project of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) team, having no experience of gas plant, is working against the principles of common understanding, logical approach and established engineering practices, which may lead the scheme to collapse totally.
The professional chemical engineers and petrochemical experts have raised serious concerns on Thar Project of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), saying that its pilot project is full of technical faults. ‘The huge energy and petrochemical potential of Thar is wholly dependent on the success of its pilot project and if non-technical management of this plan did not remove the flaws, the country would ultimately be deprived of the huge underground assets for ever’, they said. ‘You can imagine if any pilot project fails only due to lack of knowledge and expertise what can happen. This is going on here in this project and they want to make this project a failure so no other company would invest and get the true benefits for this nation’, they observed.
The experts, seeking anonymity, have urged the authorities concerned to stop the non-technical management of Thar Coal Project to play with the resources and money of people of Pakistan. ‘Usually, every oil & gas company first do rigorous tests on oil and gas wells to characterise the gas and oil composition and then build the facility which is going to be a multi-million dollar facility. This is the very first step but in UCG the team of project do not know anything what is coming out of the gas and they want to build a facility. They are only spending lot of money and then they say the pilot project was not successful’, experts stated. According to them, the UCG Thar Coal Project invited bids in Feb 2011 for supply of gas dehydration facility and there are lot of technical flaws in their concept paper which they call it invitation to bid.
The companies commented that it is not going to work and proposed the phase-wise approach. But the selfish team of Thar project does not want to listen to this scheme, they said.
In Sept 2011, UCG Thar Coal Project team re-invited the bids again with a 180 degree change in its own design which was relatively better than the previous, they added. ‘There were three competitors, two Pakistanis and one Chinese. Chinese quoted a price of 3.8 million dollars but the project management inclined to offer the project to Chinese company’, they further said.
Experts are worried and concerned that if this UCG pilot project fails nobody is going to explore and harness the potential of Thar for Pakistan at least in the near future and keep Pakistan in darkness for ever. ‘This is a real hazardous plant containing explosive and toxic gases. To ensure the safety of plant you need to have proper automatic isolation and depressurizing system and this is based on engineering and not just supply of few equipments. Chinese have the worst safety records in process plant safety. Hydrogen sulfide the most lethal gas above 10 ppm can lead to fatality. If the plant is not properly designed as per standards and codes you are playing with the life of plant personnel which of course will be Pakistanis. Hydrogen again is the most explosive gas and even a friction can lead to hydrogen bomb explosion. Without proper safety isolation and steps they are going to explode the plant. Chinese company has not considered even the life line of plant which is the flare header or vents. They are playing with the lives of people in that area. Without shutdown system they cannot even stop the feeding gas to the plant’, they said.
‘For the pilot projects you go with the best equipment and people to make it happen. You don’t do any optimisation and the value engineering at the piloting stage. If it goes wrong and fails the project may stop and it seems UCG wants to do this’, experts stated.

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