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LNG Trends: Five Solutions for the Emerging FLNG/FSRU Market

By Garry Kelly, Director of Offshore and Wouter Luimes, Director of Business Development at ABS Group

LNG Trends: Five Solutions for the Emerging FLNG/FSRU MarketImage courtesy of Golar LNG

Demand for clean energy sources to reduce air emissions, the decline in natural gas prices and abundant LNG supply have made the market for LNG a buyers market. Increasingly, the power generation industry is turning to LNG fuel as a bridge to renewable energy in addition to its traditional use. As a result, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) production units, floating storage regasification units (FSRUs) and floating storage units (FSUs) are regarded as steadfast, fast-track solutions to capitalize on this current growth.

"Since the inception of the floating regasification concept and the decade since their first operation in 2005, there has been tremendous growth to the current level of 24 vessels operating as fully fledged FSRUs," Tor-Ivar Guttulsrød, Director of FSRU and FLNG for ABS, wrote in the article Trends in FSRU Development for LNG Shipping Review. This growth will however, include a variety of concepts including regas barges, FSUs with barges or onshore regasification, large, purpose-built FSRU concepts, as well as the proven and tested LNGC with regasification facilities fitted on board, Guttulsrød noted.

Importers of LNG have opted for the FSRU as the prudent solution for short-term energy shortfall or seasonal needs and by working together with experienced operators, have helped with gas management from both an operational and safety perspective. That being said, FSRU newcomers with proven LNG carrier experience have started to enter the market. For now the need for conventional FSRUs is there, but already the future need for a more made-to-measure, multifunctional unit has emerged.

When a regasification project is on a fast-track path to commission – which most of them are – understanding how to effectively manage risks – which continue to evolve – and applicable legislation are critical to a safer, more efficient operation. A portfolio of conventional and bespoke consultancy support services may be necessary to address both the current and future technical and commercial prerequisites for emerging LNG markets.

Here are five (5) risk-based engineering solutions to consider for FLNG, FSRU and FSU projects.

5 Solutions for the FLNG/FSRU Market

1. Early Stage Project Due Diligence

Careful planning and continuous communication are considered the key pillars for a successful project execution. When managing a successful LNG project, which typically involves both marine and land-based infrastructural disciplines, the 'do it once and do it right' approach may not always be as straightforward as it appears on paper. Independent specification reviews, together with market comparison studies, can be beneficial. In addition, next stage newbuilding or vessel conversion shipyard selection coupled with independent equipment design engineering reviews are considered also to be beneficial.

2. Concept Design Engineering and Safety/Risk Management

The standard design development process for an LNG development requires an overall risk assessment plan that identifies the specific assessment techniques and systems which must be evaluated during the project. Pre-front end engineering design (FEED) risk assessments include HAZID and HAZOP workshop studies followed by supporting detailed design assessments. Additional studies, such as consequence modeling, are typically required to improve the understanding of the potential effects of specific failures. Specific studies also include fire and explosion risk assessment (FERA) and vapor dispersion analysis.

Availability studies are essential to understanding storage volume requirements and resupply management.

Learn more about our safety management and risk management services.

3. Terminal Interface Studies

In addition to marine related considerations, a detailed risk assessment of the terminal interface is a standard legal requirement for an FSRU development project. It is seldom possible to roll out a solution which suits all integrated docking, mooring, transfer and fendering systems. In response to this, and having been involved in numerous terminal projects over many years, our engineers have proven experience in undertaking the following supporting studies:

  • Safety risk workshops
  • Emergency (fire and evacuation)
  • Docking, mooring and transfer considerations
  • Ship/shore or ship/FSRU compatibility confirmation
  • Legislative compliance
  • Development of operational and emergency response manuals, and training

4. Quality Control

Project Quality Management (PQM) is an essential oversight function that monitors and confirms adherence to project specifications, standards and regulatory requirements. All equipment must function within the specified operational limits – and with an acceptable level of confidence for suppliers and users in order to comply with industry standards and local regulatory requirements – anywhere in the world. The ABS Group PQM services assist with product certification needed to maintain the appropriate levels of reliability, functionality and to promote safety for systems, equipment, software, structures and procedures.

5. Asset Management and Mechanical Integrity

ABS Group's asset management and mechanical integrity engineers are experienced and have been certified to verify the design integrity of process equipment. Our engineers can help clients design, develop and implement programs to validate the ongoing integrity of process equipment for compliance with applicable design codes, technical standards and project specifications. Additional asset reliability services that may be part of this solution include: 

  • Developing / implementing risk based inspection (RBI) plans and intelligent maintenance strategies (reliability based maintenance)
  • Spare parts optimization

Developing an Intelligent Maintenance Strategy

For the past two years, Golar LNG, Perenco Cameroon (Parenco) and Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH), Cameroon's state-owned oil and gas company, have been developing an FLNG export project off the coast of Cameroon. The Cameroon FLNG Project is based on the allocation of 500 bcf of natural gas reserves from the offshore Kribi fields, which will be exported to global markets via Hilli, the first FLNG facility utilizing the GoFLNG technology and which is under construction at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore.

Golar LNG will provide the liquefaction facilities and services under an agreement to SNH and Perenco as parties to the upstream joint venture. It is expected that production will commence in the second quarter of 2017. The Hilli was initially developed as a generic project, but following the agreement with Perenco, Golar has now reached the stage of making project specific adjustments for the Cameroon site.

In 2016, ABS Group, through its subsidiary GenesisSolutions, was awarded a contract by Golar to develop an intelligent maintenance strategy for the company's new fleet of GoFLNG vessels.

As part of the fleet-wide maintenance strategy addressing certain safety and reliability issues related to these FLNG assets and activities, the Asset Performance Optimization (APO) team is assisting Golar with implementing the Maximo computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to support its asset management program. The APO team is also providing a model for asset data, criticality rankings, spare parts analysis, a risk-based inspection strategy, failure mode and effects analysis and a maintenance program for not only Hilli, which will operate off the coast of Cameroon, but also for future vessels.

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