Definition - What does Sour Gas mean?
Sour Gas is natural gas which contains significant amounts of Hydrogen Sulfide. This is the reason why it is sometimes known as "Hydrogen Sulfide gas". It is flammable, colorless, and toxic at extremely low concentrations. It is heavier than air. Sour Gas smells like "rotten eggs" and can be harmful to several systems of the body, affecting mostly the nervous and the respiratory systems. It irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs; it also causes nausea and headaches. In extreme cases, it can affect the respiratory center located in the brain, leading to death.
Petropedia explains Sour Gas
In drilling operations, natural gas obtained from oil or gas wells contains a significant amount of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, which are considered as sour gas. If the quantity of hydrogen sulfide per meter cube of natural gas is more than 5.7 mg approximately equivalent to 4 ppm by volume under standard pressure and temperature, it is considered to be sour gas. Natural gas that does not contain significant amounts of hydrogen sulfide is known as Sweet Gas.
Sour Gas is one of the most vicious and deadly hazards in the oil and gas industry. It is formed as a result of the decomposition of organic matter containing Sulfur during the drilling process. Exposure to high concentrations of this gas can lead to loss of consciousness. Due to its flammable properties, Sour Gas can explode easily making oil and gas drilling sites extremely dangerous. It also affects the product value, the environment and damages infrastructure integrity. Managing sour gas at every stage of hydrocarbon production, refining, and transportation can prove to be quite challenging.