LNG's March to the Sea

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
The LNG industry is beginning to move offshore, in part as a defensive tactic to avoid the safety and security concerns of local citizens to shore-based terminals and, in part, as an offensive move to access more gas reserves and possibly gain manufacturing and scale efficiencies.

Project developers and the engineering contractors and equipment manufacturers that support them are working out the technical challenges of marinizing liquefaction, storage, loading, unloading and regas systems.

"Moves to offshore facilities will change the economics of LNG project development," said Bob Nimocks, president of Zeus Development Corporation. "For import terminals, developers have the incentive to build as large a terminal as possible, because the cost of incremental capacity is less than with shore-based terminals. For liquefaction, we may see full-scale plants producing much smaller fields than the 10 to 15 Tcf minimums for shore-based plants."

Gradually, LNG technology that for decades has been limited to onshore locations is being readied for marine environments. The first offshore LNG terminal will go into operation next year. In Spain, manufacturers are placing liquefaction process trains on a barge for positioning on the shoreline of the Norwegian Sea.

"With such super majors as ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips working on offshore receiving and regasification terminals, the technology for offshore LNG facilities is advancing rapidly," Nimocks said. "The next step will be the move from fixed, gravity-based structures to floating facilities."

No less than thirteen offshore terminals in five countries are in design phases. Excelerate Energy and ChevronTexaco have received the necessary U.S. approvals for terminals in the Gulf of Mexico.

September 8th and 9th, Zeus will host a conference to discuss the issues around the marinization of LNG. Speakers include Kathleen Eisbrenner, president, Excelerate Energy LLC; David Landry, VP, Freeport-McMoRan Sulphur; Greg Pepper, VP, Aker Kvaerner; Phil Rynn, American Bureau of Shipping; Jack Bonn, Chart Industries; and Jens Kaalstad, president of APL, Inc. among others. The conference, "LNG Moving Offshore" will be held at the Hilton Houston Westchase Hotel.

For more information, access www.lngexpress.com/mlo or contact Mark Voss, 713-952-9501 (mvoss@zeusdevelopment.com ).

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