This paper is an attempt to address some of the issues and work that has been carried out on both export and import floating LNG terminals. The LNG market is seeing an unprecedented growth. Under certain conditions, a floating liquefaction terminal (LNG FPSO) would make more sense than a distant onshore liquefaction terminal. Similarly, with the difficulty to set a new onshore regasification plant; Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRU) makes a lot of sense.

This paper will examine recent works performed to share with the industry some of the experience that was gained on LNG FPSO and FSRU.

Introduction on floating LNG

With demand for gas constantly on the rise, the interest for floating LNG is growing bigger by the day. Floating LNG is the marriage of LNG & cryogenic fluids handling know-how (processing and storage) with deepwater offshore experience (floating units). This article is an opportunity to share with the industry some of this expertise.

Floating LNG can come in two flavors: LNG FPSO for export terminals and FSRU for import terminals.

LNG FPSOs for a first are the consequence of the need to monetize associated gas or the possibility to develop large stand-alone gas fields. FSRU on the other hand are the consequence of increased gas needs from highly populated areas associated with the difficulty to set up new onshore LNG terminals (NIMBY, shore restrictions, limited space).

After exploring the viability of floating LNG, this paper addresses some of the key aspects of LNG FPSO and FSRU. On LNG FPSO this paper focuses on an innovative concrete hull, and how it accommodates the LNG containment system. Regarding FSRU, this paper provides a technical overview of 2 such units: one being a converted unit, while the other is a large-size new-build, and some of the key parameters that differ between these facilities.

A quick overview of the gas market
Long-term perspectives for natural gas

Long-term perspectives for the gas market appear extraordinarily bright. The long-term trend for the energy market shows a seemingly irremediable shift from heavy carbon molecules (coal then oil) to lighter molecules (methane).

The reasons behind those changes can be found in:

  • Adverse environmental and health impacts caused by oilinduced pollution.

  • New natural gas discoveries.

  • Change in regulations (interdiction to flare or vent, etc).

  • Growing energetic demand.

This change is of such a magnitude that everything concurs to let industry think that natural gas will be the energy source of choice for the 21st century.

Incentives for gas fields' development

The gas market has been slightly more complex than the oil market because of the absence of a spot trading market. This characteristic has a significant impact on the decision to develop a field because it requires operators to negotiate longterm sale agreements as part of the development scheme. In the end the main factors that influence the decision to develop a field are:

  • Total recoverable reserves.

  • Feasibility and viability associated with the production facilities (Availability of technologies).

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