FSRU concepts meet evolving energy demand

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Patrick Janssens, Vice President, Global Gas Solutions, ABS - Global Marine
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Article originally published in the Gastech Show Daily Newspaper by Gas Processing.

The ability to deploy floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) to meet local power generation demand has gained pace, as new and different vessel concepts—often serving different parts of the value chain—have made their way into the marketplace.

An FSRU typically has a larger storage capacity than the discharging carrier. As the size of LNG carriers has grown, older LNG carrier tonnage has been rendered too small for standalone FSRU conversion. This has paved the way for multiple units, or even a barge alongside, with a mounted FSU or FSRU system.

Another element that encourages the use of floating LNG storage units rather than complete FSRUs is seasonal demand. Placing the regasification unit onshore, or on the jetty, and using an LNG carrier for storage is a simple solution.

“Today’s overcapacity in the LNG market is leading owners to look creatively toward new solutions for how to best utilize their assets,” said Tor-Ivar Guttulsrød, Director of FSRU and FLNG, Global Gas Solutions at ABS.

“This process also typically involves class, both as a discussion partner and, most importantly, to ensure that any new concepts are in line with applicable rules and regulations.

“Because most LNG demand is driven by the need for electricity generation from a low-pollution source, a concept that has been widely discussed and may see a significant market in the future is a combined FSRU and floating power generation plant.”

An additional factor driving FSRU or FSU conversions is the availability of ships in the conventional LNG-size segment, which are still comparatively young. This “middle-aged” tonnage is not as efficient as newer vessels, given the improvements that have taken place with propulsion and containment systems on newer ships.

The use of barge-based regasification units is a concept many industry players, such as ABS, are investigating due to their potentially multiple applications. A unit with some storage and regasification kit onboard could effectively combine with an older and somewhat smaller FSU to provide the functionality of a large-scale FSRU, while also allowing the larger storage unit to trade as an LNG carrier during a low season with little or no gas demand.

A second, and apparently fast-growing, segment of the market is for barges to serve as regasification units for the small- and mid-scale segment.

Units with a typical storage volume of 10 Mm3 – 25 Mm3are becoming increasingly popular. These units can serve a smaller power station in an island nation—or any other remote location—and can be easily served by small-scale LNG carriers.

While full-scale LNG-to-power ships have not yet been ordered, this concept is being developed by several top industry players, and is expected to gain prominence moving forward, with stronger growth in clean-burning electricity supply.

Share your insights and join the conversation: What do you think the future holds for FSRU's? Leave your comments below. 

Patrick Janssen chaired the Technical Session 'Floating Storage & Regasification Units' at Gastech 2017 in Tokyo. To discover more about Gastech 2018 in Barcelona and the Technical Conference, click here.