Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) marine transportation is poised to be a viable solution to bring natural gas supplies to new markets or provide a solution for monetizing stranded gas. This is being driven in large part by high liquid fuel energy prices. CNG marine transport has a market niche between the volumes and distances that pipelines and LNG can economically transport. TransCanada's Gas Transport Module (GTM)1 a lightweight pressure vessel, has been developed to specifically address this market.
Presently utilized anywhere in the world, though bulk transport by truck is well proven. Due to the reluctance by many parties to be the 'first mover', TransCanada has embarked on the development of a small, simple compression loaded barge based CNG marine transport project that will provide a demonstration platform for the GTM technology. The small size and resulting minimal capital outlay will provide a much needed working commercial scale model while minimizing the risks and financing problems associated with many proposed large scale projects.
This paper will present details of the project, its development timetable and address the development process necessary to make CNG marine transportation a viable reality.
CNG transport is not new nor are the technologies being introduced to CNG transport, but what is new is the pplication of these technologies into a CNG marine based system and the increased volumes of CNG proposed to be transported. TransCanada's Gas Transport Module (GTM) technology is well positioned to become the CNG transport market leader due to the competitive advantage of the lightweight GTM, commercial availability of the GTM product, long standing TransCanada reputation as one of the world's leaders for advances in pipeline technology and ability to finance project development. CNG provides TransCanada with a third method for transporting natural gas for its customers along with LNG and traditional pipeline options. TransCanada also had previous CNG experience as it operated a fleet of CNG road trailers known as "Nova Pressure Transport" in Alberta, Canada during the 1980's.
Initially, TransCanada faced skepticism by potential customers for 'untried or unproven technology' but all that changed once the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) approved TransCanada's code case in 2001 for the Gas Transport Module (GTM) pressure vessel and also obtained the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) approval for a CNG river barge design in 2001. Lloyds Register gave its Approval in Principle for ocean going vessels in 2002.
TransCanada has further relieved potential customer concerns about manufacturing capability by awarding a manufacturing license for the manufacture of GTM pressure vessels to the Floating Pipeline Company (FPC) of Halifax, anada. The state of the art facility provides for quick project implementation and as well as provides a high degree of cost certainty for the CNG containment system, the GTM pressure vessel.
Many projects have not proceeded past the screeningphase because gas producers and users cannot agree on supplyagreement terms and conditions, market or supply risks, counterparty, geopolitical or currency risks.