Mid-scale nearshore Floating LNG

Lincoln Clark's picture
Lincoln Clark, Engineering and Operations Manager, LNG Limited
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Remote full-offshore FPSO type LNG liquefaction applications can economically afford to place a low emphasis on the efficiency of the liquefaction technology compared to other features and factors.  Nitrogen expansion technology or basic single mixed refrigerant (SMR) processes are well suited for these remote floating LNG projects since the resulting facilities are relatively simple to operate and have a reasonably small footprint, while access to large reserves of offshore stranded gas renders the inherent inefficiencies and high emissions of these processes less consequential. 

A new category of proposed liquefaction facilities has emerged, the nearshore Floating LNG concept. In this case, where a project is located closer to shore and sources third party feed gas from a pipeline system, a more efficient liquefaction technology provides economic merits since every molecule of gas must be paid for.

Generally, capital and operating economics favour onshore LNG when this option is feasible.  In those situations, where onshore options are stymied, the advantages of adopting an alternative mid-scale nearshore FLNG solution can include:

  • Realize smaller parcels of gas - Isolated and relatively small fields may be otherwise uneconomic;
  • Minimize onshore challenges - Onshore plant locations may face lengthy legal and permitting time and community objections;
  • Reduce environmental footprint - Nearshore LNG concepts may not require long pipelines, dredging for jetties or extensive onshore roads and construction;
  • Re-deployment Opportunity - Onshore LNG plants represent a huge point investment, while nearshore facilities can be relocated;
  • Deliver projects faster & cheaper - Traditional onshore LNG facilities can face extensive infrastructure development in some locations;
  • Potential to use seawater cooling - Depending on the location, seawater cooling may be viable option to air cooling;
  • Project construction control - The logistics of getting a skilled workforce to an onshore LNG construction site and keeping them there can be hugely challenging. Nearshore facilities can be built in established yards with established labor forces 
  • Regulatory - Specific to the U.S. but possibly applicable in other locations, nearshore projects will be administered under Maritime Administration (MARAD) rather than FERC, providing the opportunity for reduced permitting timelines

In some cases, the choice may be between a nearshore floating system or no project at all. With the market changing, companies are innovating in response to these new demands. The fundamental attributes of efficiency, emissions, reliability, flexibility, safety, simplicity and cost must get attention when developing a nearshore LNG project. When purchasing third party gas, efficiency stands out as a necessity, and also represents an excursion from other traditional full offshore remote floating LNG solutions. Proponent economics will be best optimized when efficiency is provided with a high degree of consideration in nearshore liquefaction technology selection.

Share your insights & join the conversation: Do you agree nearshore FLNG enables a wide range of new opportunities within the industry? Leave your comment below.

Gastech's technical programme offers nearly 50 sessions dedicated to all technical and engineering disiplines within the natural gas and LNG value chain, including 'Floating LNG - technology and projects'. To download the event brochure for Gastech 2018 in Barcelona, click here.

Image courtesy of LNG Limited