Offshore LNG Technology: A Comparative Study of Conventional and Futuristic Salt-Cavern-Based LNG Receiving Terminals
- Sanchit Rai (Indian School of Mines)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction
- Publication Date
- September 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
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- 2007. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.6.2 Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 7.4.3 Market analysis /supply and demand forecasting/pricing, 7.7.1 New Technology Deployment, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 3.2.4 Acidising, 4.5.4 Mooring Systems, 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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Tight oil supplies, escalating oil prices, and towering energy demands have led to the revival of natural gas. It is now deemed to be the potential fuel of the near future. The trend now is toward supplying every cubic foot of inland and offshore natural gas to energy-hungry consumers. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is recognized as the best form of gas transfer from remote inland and offshore fields to consumers around the world.
The natural gas is liquefied and shipped to distant receiving terminals. The main technical features of a conventional terminal facility include LNG carrier mooring systems, unloading facilities, cryogenic LNG storage tanks, LNG regasification systems, and gas send-out systems. The United States has five such conventional terminals and is the world's largest gas market, with gas demands expected to double by 2020. This demand is leading to the expansion and refurbishment of these conventional LNG receiving terminals, with the construction of several more in various phases of planning and development. In 2005, the US Department of Energy (DOE), along with 30 energy industry players, successfully completed a research study on the concept of an offshore facility to moor LNG carriers and unload and store LNG. This concept includes storing gas in salt caverns. This technology is claimed to be highly cost-effective and process-efficient, with better delivery capacity and security than other options. This idea is being implemented through the construction of such a modern LNG receiving terminal in offshore Louisiana.
Apart from the United States, LNG also offers great promise to such countries as Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, and France. These countries are also contemplating LNG facilities development and upgrading.
This paper aims to present a qualitative comparison between conventional and futuristic salt-cavern-based LNG receiving terminals. The comparison is based on the use of technology for these terminals. This approach will be ultimately useful in understanding the technology implementation required for the development and modernization of LNG receiving facilities in such countries.
Gas demand in the United States is steadily outpacing domestic natural gas production. For importing natural gas from gas exporting countries by long-distance marine transport, transporting gas from distant offshore production facilities to the mainland, and developing isolated offshore gas reserves, LNG is widely recognized as the best form of natural-gas transport. LNG is obtained when natural gas is cooled to -160°C at atmospheric pressure. With this type of treatment, the natural gas is reduced to 1/600th of its original volume.
Fig. 1 shows the recent history and near-future forecasted trends of natural gas consumption in the United States.
Bringing the natural gas from the reservoir to the consumer market by transporting the gas over long marine distances gives rise to the well-known LNG value chain. Fig. 2 shows the LNG value chain.
The principal subject of discussion in this paper is the LNG receiving terminal. A conventional LNG receiving terminal is an LNG receiving, storing, regasifying, and gas distributing facility traditionally located near shore.
The United States has five such facilities in operation, with more than a dozen approved by the regulatory authorities like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Maritime Administration/Coast Guard as of October 2006. One of the five facilities currently operating is located offshore.
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