Onshore mid-scale LNG terminal storage modularization

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Article by Brian Raine, Principal, Arup Texas Inc.

Small to Mid-scale power projects such as those on island communities and others remote from the grid should be benefiting from the abundance of global LNG production. This can be achieved by the construction of appropriately sized LNG receival terminals on the coast or just offshore to receive LNG fuel shipments. But, economic solutions for the delivery of LNG fueled power to those communities require reduction in cost with most of that cost reduction needing to be in the form of reduced infrastructure costs such that generated power costs are affordable with 50 to 750 MW generation facilities.

Reducing the cost of LNG storage through the appropriate adoption of storage volume should take in to consideration the developing shuttle LNG carrier capability. Small shuttle carriers are well suited to Small to Mid-Scale LNG to power plants but the LNG storage tankage needs to be appropriately sized also. Continuity of fuel supply is considered a primary driver hence onshore LNG storage is preferred over offshore floating solutions. This preference then demands development of modular onshore LNG storage capacities between 20,000 and 75,000 m3 for the power plant capacity. Adopting modular tankage production methods should provide for faster and more economical tank solutions, particularly for smaller LNG to Power applications where local skilled and semi-skilled labor is either unavailable or expensive.

Modular tank solutions are mature for very small volumes but more work is needed for to make the larger capacities available. The authors have configured solutions for storage modularization in sizes from 12,000 to 36,000 m3 in single containment. Storage tank technologies include horizontal cylindrical, spherical and flat-bottom vertical cylindrical with either 9% nickel or membrane primary containment systems. Remote fabrication and ocean transport of storage tanks up to 25,000 m3 is feasible and has precedent in both the LNG and upstream LNG industry. Cost and schedule estimates and execution plans for their fabrication at a regional fabrication facility and transport to site show that unit storage costs of flat bottomed tanks can be less than $800/m3 stored and can be delivered in less than 2 years.

With the development of modular storage solutions a virtuous circle of reducing fabrication costs is envisaged. Smaller receival terminal projects will be more economical so further encouraging the development of the LNG to Power in the mid-scale market.

Brian Raine, Principal at Arup Texas Inc talked about "Containment & Storage: Onshore Mid-Scale LNG Terminal Storage Modularization" at Gastech Singapore last October. In 2017 Gastech moves to Japan for the first time and is being hosted by The Japan Gastech Consortium, which is made up of 10 of Japan's leading energy companies.

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