Global success and innovation: ConocoPhillips on pursuing LNG opportunities

Karl Masani's picture
Karl Masani, Director LNG Technology & Licensing, ConocoPhillips
Comments: 0

As one of the world’s largest independent E&P companies based on production and proved reserves, ConocoPhillips is committed to efficiency and innovation in the industry.

Ahead of the 2018 Gastech Exhibition and Conference, Governing Body Member and Director LNG Technology & Licencing at ConocoPhillips, Karl Masani, spoke with Gastech Insights about their famous Optimized Cascade® Process and how it is successfully utilised in the global market.

Gastech Insights: Since 2010, LNG plants utilizing the Optimized Cascade® Process account for about 40% of all new global LNG capacity.  What has driven this global success? 

Karl Masani: Since the inception of the Optimized Cascade® Process in the mid-sixties, ConocoPhillips has maintained a sharp focus on the primary metrics that govern any liquefaction facility; that being safety, availability, operational efficiency, cost, schedule, life-cycle O&M, and a low carbon facility footprint.  By utilizing highly efficient gas turbines as compressor drivers in a 2-in-1 configuration for each refrigerant service, our availability as well as our facility, thermal efficiency has been exceptionally high, while providing lower emissions. ConocoPhillips implemented the use of the first aero-derivative gas turbine for LNG service at Darwin, Australia, followed by the first gas turbine inlet air chilling system for LNG at facilities located at Curtis Island, Australia. These innovations were widely accepted by major LNG developers since they further increased their facility efficiency and reduced emissions, as well as maintained constant annual production which greatly improved project economics.

Our dedicated commissioning and start-up team is embedded within the EPC contractor’s team from commissioning to plant handover and adds a high level of assurance to the owner, especially during the most critical phase of the project. In addition, each of our LNG trains incorporates applicable lessons learned from all previous LNG trains which are methodically implemented during FEED and EPC. Being a licensor of a superior liquefaction technology that has been in operation for almost 50 years, as well as an owner and operator in several liquefaction facilities with in-house subject matter technical and operations experts, provides our clients with a recipe for success. This globally recognized value that ConocoPhillips provides has driven the Optimized Cascade® Process growth. 

Gastech Insights: ConocoPhillips Optimized Cascade® Process is used in LNG projects globally. Could you tell us more about your contractor strategy and the selection of contractors that can perform FEED and EPC utilizing the Optimized Cascade® Process? 

Karl Masani: Previously, ConocoPhillips and Bechtel had a global collaboration agreement to pursue LNG liquefaction projects which was mutually terminated in 2016. Many LNG clients value competitive bids utilizing the Optimized Cascade® technology and can currently achieve that goal during the pre-FEED, FEED, and the EPC project phases.  ConocoPhillips is working extensively with multiple LNG EPC contractors to pursue LNG opportunities globally and has executed agreements to share detailed process information with several contractors. In order to provide a fair and balanced competition, we aim to provide each EPC contractor with a process design package that incorporates design notes, design guides, specification overlays and lessons learned from the previous 25 LNG trains. In this manner, each EPC contractor bidding on our technology will have clear guidance on the design of our process. We anticipate that multiple EPC contractors will construct liquefaction facilities utilizing the Optimized Cascade® Process in the next decade.

Gastech Insights: ConocoPhillips has been operating the 1.5 MMTPA Kenai LNG facility for over 45 years.  With the advent of multiple mid-scale projects in FEED, could you give us an overview of your small or mid-scale design and strategy?

Karl Masani: Mid-scale or small-scale LNG has been the latest industry buzzword over the past 3 years. Many have forgotten that Kenai LNG is a 1.5 MMTPA liquefaction project that has been in operation for over 45 years in Alaska.  This was the genesis of the Optimized Cascade® Process that catapulted our technology to its current global capacity of over 100 MMTPA across 25 liquefaction trains.

Mid-scale LNG technology with a capacity of between 1.0 and 2.0 MMTPA is discussed throughout the LNG industry as some sort of latest innovation in competitiveness. A few developers are designing LNG facilities over 20 MMTPA utilizing a mid-scale train design and claiming EPC benefits which perhaps really need to be challenged. Mid-scale LNG is well suited for developers who need to construct their trains in small capacity increments in order to meet a specific LNG market, monetize a small stranded gas reserve, or a financial requirement. To address this market, we have developed a highly efficient mid-scale design in the 1.75 - 2.2 MMTPA capacity range utilizing Optimized Cascade® Process powered either by two aero-derivative gas turbines or two electric motors depending on the project location. This design reduces the equipment count from our original Kenai LNG design and provides project developers with a competitive option utilizing the well-proven Optimized Cascade® Process for a mid-scale LNG project with a low carbon footprint.  

Gastech Insights: What has been the greatest impact of technological advancements in the LNG industry pertaining to natural gas liquefaction? 

Karl Masani: Technological advancements in the natural gas industry are being implemented slowly and methodically over time to capture, transform, transport and utilize energy to benefit society globally in ways that were unheard of decades ago.  Continuously reducing the energy consumed in delivering natural gas to the end user and reducing the global carbon footprint of the entire LNG value chain has been one of the greatest technological advancements in the LNG industry.  The more efficiently we deliver and consume energy, the more we leave behind for future generations.  The efficiency of LNG facilities has been steadily increasing with the implementation of highly efficient machinery for power and refrigerant compression coupled with the use of advanced materials for heat transfer.  This allows for more energy to be utilized by a greater number of people globally.  Another very important advancement in the LNG value chain is the emergence of floating regasification units which has allowed rapid demand growth in countries previously considered too small to afford a major onshore regasification terminal.

Gastech Insights: As a member of the Gastech Governing Body, what are you most looking forward to at Gastech 2018 in Barcelona? 

Karl Masani: Gastech is one of the world’s leading energy conferences that encourages an open forum to present, learn, discuss, and network within the gas industry. I look forward to hearing about the latest developments in the LNG industry and networking with other LNG industry professionals. It is a prestigious global event where we can meet various stakeholders involved in every facet of the LNG industry.

If you would like to hear more on innovative technological advancements in the global gas industry, register for Gastech 2018 and hear Michael Culligan, Manager, LNG Technology & Licensing at ConocoPhillips discuss "Game Changer in the LNG Liquefaction Market: Flexible Licensing for the Optimised Cascade Process" on Wednesday 19th September at 4:40 pm. 

Image courtesy of ConocoPhillips