ABS Vice President of Global Gas William J. Sember said the classification society is in advanced stages of design review for a number of Floating LNG (FLNG) concepts, as this technology moves ever closer to reality. Speaking at the Gastech 2011 conference, where he chaired the technical session on FLNG terminals and systems, Sember noted that as recently as five years ago, floating solutions for the import and export of LNG were still considered new and novel concepts.
“Today emerging proprietary technologies and transport designs have come of age and industry is poised for the first projects. With more than one-third of global gas reserves stranded by their location or field size without commercially viable access to world markets the attractiveness of FLNG cannot be denied,” he told attendees.
Major projects in progress include Shell’s Prelude field in the Browse Basin off Western Australia, which gained environmental approval in late 2010 and has a target production start date of 2016. Also being closely followed are several projects offshore Papua New Guinea and Inpex’s Abadi Field gas project offshore Indonesia.
FLNG offers a number of advantages over land-based terminals. FLNG installations can result in lower overall project costs and reduced environmental footprint because facilities such as long pipelines to shore, onshore development and offshore compression platforms are not needed. With gas deposits often in remote or stranded areas far from the coast the ‘marinizing’ of production, liquefaction and export facilities offers great potential for many future development projects.
Sember noted that the shipping and offshore industries have spent the past five years successfully advancing both the technology and commercial attractiveness of the FLNG concept as a means of delivering new sources of cleaner energy.
Technology developments have addressed issues as the integration of subsea architecture with FLNG; offloading systems, in particular for harsher environments with tandem configurations based on cryogenic hoses or flexible pipes; and the qualification and testing of components with regard to LNG transfer systems.
“From a class society perspective there are no technology showstoppers for FLNG. Liquefaction plants have been suitably optimized in order to efficiently use deck space while taking into account the safe and efficient operation of process equipment,” said Sember. “The advances and level of sophistication in all these subjects are evident. The time for commercialization and the first project is now.”