Developers see numerous advantages to mid-scale, modular liquefaction technology, including less risk, capex and LNG production cost
With social distancing guidelines and travel lockdowns in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, Baker Hughes and LNG project developer Venture Global have turned to digital and video technologies to conduct remote testing on the components of a new, mid-scale, modular liquefaction train.
The train is one of 18 being built by Baker Hughes in Italy for the Calcasieu Pass LNG project under construction in Cameron Parish, Louisiana about 370 km west of New Orleans.
Used to prove the engineering, functionality and performance of the system components of the liquefaction equipment in the factory, the virtual string test connected 21 technicians and personnel from five different cities to Baker Hughes’ testing facility in Massa, Italy. The string test replicates and simulates site conditions, verifying component and system functionality and performance. The test performs a mechanical running assessment and measures equipment vibration and bearing temperatures at full speed and full load. The auxiliary and control systems are also calibrated, minimising these activities on site.
Venture Global says the successful string test demonstrates the strength of the project’s design and that the equipment will function properly once installed, a major milestone and an important indicator of on-time delivery for the overall project.
Concurrent with its FID for the project, Venture Global issued full notice to proceed to Baker Hughes in August 2019. The Houston-based oilfield services company is supplying a comprehensive process solution for the 10-mta Calcasieu Pass LNG project that utilises highly efficient, mid-scale, modular liquefaction trains. Eighteen liquefaction trains, each with a nominal capacity of 0.626 mta, will be built off-site, pre-tested and shipped to Louisiana fully assembled. Two electronically driven liquefaction trains will be integrated into each of the project’s nine LNG liquefaction blocks, with a cold box utilising industry-standard single mixed-refrigerant (SMR) technology.
Baker Hughes signed a US$135M contract with Chart Industries to supply its cold boxes and brazed aluminium heat exchangers for the project. The equipment will be produced at Chart Industries’ facilities in Wisconsin and Louisiana.
Developer Venture Global has executed an integrated turnkey engineering, procurement and construction contract with US-based Kiewit to design, engineer, construct, commission, test and guarantee the Calcasieu Pass facility.
Venture Global sees several advantages in using mid-scale modular liquefaction technology as compared with traditional, large scale, custom-built plant configurations. The Virginia-based developer feels its model is “fundamentally less risky than common, highly customised ‘stick-built’ projects that are constructed almost entirely onsite by large workforces over longer periods of time.”
Other benefits, notes Venture Global, are that the fully complete modules built off-site come with controlled factory settings, significantly decreasing construction labour and increasing site safety, execution quality, and on-time delivery.
Venture Global LNG co-chief executives Bob Pender and Mike Sabel see the company’s model of mid-scale modular liquefaction as “the future of low-cost LNG production".
The company marked a milestone in April, raising the roof on the first of two 200,000-m3 storage tanks at Calcasieu Pass LNG. CB&I Storage Tank Solutions, a division of McDermott International, is building the tanks. The LNG export facility will also have two ship loading berths for LNG carriers with capacities up to 185,000 m3.
With commission expected in 2022, Calcasieu Pass LNG has sales and purchase agreements (SPA) in place with a mix of international and national oil and gas companies. It has signed 20-year LNG SPAs with Shell, BP, Edison SpA, Galp, Repsol and PGNiG.
Venture Global LNG plans to standardise mid-scale modular liquefication technology across its other LNG export projects, the Plaquemines LNG project and the Delta LNG project. Each project will have a capacity of 20 mta and be located in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
Under a process equipment supply agreement for 60 mta with Venture Global, Baker Hughes will supply the modular liquefaction trains plus power generation and electrical distribution equipment for both expansion projects.
Small-scale LNG at Elba Island
Other developers have also found the smaller volume and simpler configurations of small- and mid-scale modular liquefaction plants appealing as lower risk alternatives for their projects.
The US$2Bn Elba Island liquefaction project in Savannah, Georgia, uses Shell’s small-scale Movable Modular Liquefaction System (MMLS) technology. In February, Elba Liquefaction and Southern LNG received authorisation to place a fifth MMLS into service at the LNG liquefaction and export facility at Southern’s LNG terminal on Elba Island in Chatham County, GA. Manufactured off-site and transported to Elba Island liquefaction project, Shell’s MMLS units can be disassembled and moved to another location, if desired. When fully completed, the export terminal will consist of 10 trains, with a capacity to produce 2.5 mta. Each of the MMLS trains contains a gas treatment and liquefaction system.
Developer Elba Island Liquefaction Co is 51% controlled by Kinder Morgan and 49% by funds managed by the EIC Global Energy Partners.
A 20-year contract from Shell for 100% of Elba Island’s capacity underpins the liquefaction project. Shell will utilise some of the LNG to service a contract it signed in 2017 with Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines to supply fuel for two new LNG-fuelled cruise ships. The cruise ships, due in 2020 and 2022, will be fuelled via a new LNG bunker articulated tug barge (ATB) unit. Owned by Q-LNG Transport and long-term chartered by Shell, the LNG ATB unit, Q-4000/Q-Ocean Service, is nearing completion at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Delays due to the coronavirus pandemic have pushed the vessel’s delivery to Q2 2020.
Small-scale plant in Tacoma
At Port Tacoma in Washington, construction is well underway on Tacoma LNG, a small-scale liquefaction plant that will serve peak shaving capacity to customers of Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and provide LNG as a fuel to marine and on-road customers.
Targeted for commercial operations starting Q1 2021, Tacoma LNG will have nameplate capacity of 1,000 m3 of LNG per day. The small-scale LNG facility has on-site storage of 8,000 m3. CB&I was named engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project, with responsibility for designing a mixed-refrigerant plant and the facility’s tank, pre-treatment system, truck racks, vaporiser and other equipment.
Being developed at a cost of US$310M, Tacoma LNG is jointly owned by PSE, with a 43% stake, and Puget LNG, with a 57% interest.
Among Puget LNG’s biggest maritime customers will be TOTE Maritime’s two Orca class roro vessels that operate in weekly service to Anchorage, Alaska. TOTE is undertaking a first-of-a-kind phased conversion of the two Orca class roros that will allow them to operate on LNG as a fuel.
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