Offshore Natural Gas Liquefaction Process and Development Issues
- David Wood (David Wood and Associates) | Saeid Mokhatab (David Wood and Associates) | Michael John Economides (U. of Houston)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction
- Publication Date
- December 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1 - 7
- 2007. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 7.1.10 Field Economic Analysis, 4.5.3 Floating Production Systems, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.6.2 Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), 7.2.5 Emergency Preparedness and Training, 7.1.9 Project Economic Analysis, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems
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Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has yet to be deployed in the development of offshore fields in spite of several detailed studies completed and offshore technology development demonstrating its technical feasibility. The perceived risks associated with deploying unproven technology in a high construction cost and volatrile gas price environment have so far inhibited offshore liquefaction projects. The potential deployment of such technologies is of paramount importance considering the massive volumes of natural gas currently deemed as "stranded?? and the exploitation of which is compelling not only because of the inherent economic benefit but also because of the otherwise adverse impact on oil production. It is conceivable that deep water offshore locations may contain quantities of natural gas rivalling those of onshore locations. Such a statement cannot even be confirmed because drilling for offshore natural gas reservoirs, expected to be found considerably deeper than oil reservoirs, has been unattractive exactly because of the absence of coherent exploitation strategies. If anything, the mere presence of large natural gas deposits even in the form of solution gas in oil is now often considered as largely undesirable because of the cost of just handling non-monetized natural gas. This paper discusses potential offshore LNG processes and reviews natural gas liquefaction cycles in the context of compactness, ease of operation, process safety, and efficiency.
Particular attention is paid to the lower-efficiency turboexpander processes for plant capacities up to 3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA, approximately 0.43 Bcf/d). These cycles offer several advantages over the alternative optimized cascade and mixed refrigerant (MR) liquefiers for offshore applications.
Increasing global demand for natural gas is supporting the rapid growth and diversification of worldwide LNG production capacity. As demand continues to grow and the value of natural gas remains high in the major consuming markets, the impetus to monetize more difficult and remote gas resources also grows. There is a drive to develop stranded gas fields that have remained undeveloped for many years to satisfy the thirsty energy markets with a cleaner fuel than coal or oil (in terms of lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants) that has kept the industry keen to develop the technology that will enable it to ultimately deploy floating liquefaction facilities on a commercial basis. Unfortunately it was the major international oil companies that conducted most of the early research, development, and feasibility studies, focused on deploying large-scale facilities to develop the very large gas reserves that are material to them. There are, however, very few giant gas fields located in remote offshore regions available to the majors for such deployments.
The future potential to deploy floating liquefaction probably lies in medium size gas fields, or aggregations of smaller fields with associated gas, developed by medium sized independent companies. However, the restrictions of more stringent no-flaring rules being introduced in many countries (e.g. Nigeria and Angola) may prompt some existing offshore producers of giant volatile oil and wet gas fields to aggregate gas from several such fields and develop large-scale (> 4 MTPA capacity) floating liquefaction as an alternative to building and operating expensive gas re-injection facilities. The potential to unlock offshore gas reserves without the need to invest in capital-intensive pipeline infrastructure, infield platforms, and onshore infrastructure and to minimize exposure to geopolitical and security risks is also attractive to upstream LNG operators.
|File Size||871 KB||Number of Pages||7|
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