Growing up an offshore LNG industry, new gas job openings
The final investment decision of Shell, adopted in May, to continue work on the project Prelude in the deep zone of about 200 km north-west of Australia is a key milestone in the development of an offshore LNG (liquefied natural gas) industry. The subsequent contract for the floating production system, storage and offloading LNG (LNG FPSO) was the world's first purchase of such vessel, and its construction will set new standards in naval architecture, offshore processing of hydrocarbons and technology.
A vessel of 488 m, 74 m wide and carrying capacity of 600,000 tons, LNG FPSO Prelude is in 6 times larger than the biggest aircraft in the world and will be largest floating structure in the world. Approximately 260,000 tons of weight are hull and superstructure. Only a installation system of Prelude oil platform will be 30 m in diameter and 100 m in height. The mooring system will change the orientation of the vessel according to the weather conditions at the point mooring, and is designed to withstand extreme forces in the cyclone meteorological conditions.
In addition to the 3.6 million tonnes per year of LNG, which can produce FPSO Prelude, a unit will be able to produce 1.3 million tons per year of condensate and 0.4 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas. The vessel will have space for storing 220,000 m3 of liquefied natural gas membrane tanks, 90 000 m3 of LPG and 126,000 m3 of condensate. Shuttles-transport gas and condensate will be loaded by mooring alongside. The only one line of natural gas liquefaction on board will use the unique technology of Shell double refrigerant. Cold water, taken at a depth of 150 m, will be used to improve the efficiency of the liquefaction process. Cold water will also allow to use steam turbines as the main driving force for the generation of energy and to provide reboiler heat. While steam is not most effective source of energy, it is reliable and its use can achieve the most simple construction of power transmission.
Shell is studying offshore for LNG production for 15 years, developing a conceptual design for a vessel FLNG (floating unit for LNG) for use on the coast of Namibia in 1999. Perhaps, the project was doomed to failure, but Shell engineers have continued to develop LNG FPSO project for the group. The ongoing program of engineering and design for offshore production units LNG, conducted for 10 years, is now paid off.
Shell has set the launch of the first LNG FPSO vessel in 2017, the purpose of which is to ensure the development of Prelude gas field 10 years after its discovery. Prelude will be a breakthrough, and follow a lot of orders to other LNG FPSO in the coming months and years. For smaller vessels, they can start long before the Prelude.
LNG FPSO projects in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Brazil and Australia are moving quickly to the stage of the final investment decision. Shell also plans to construct several FPSO on the overall design of the Prelude for several offshore projects that are under development. The programs of study for all development projects, LNG FPSO to be rated in a wide range of general and specific challenges for LNG ships offshore class.
Offshore LNG sector would not have reached its current position - the peak of production in the offshore LNG - without the support of many experts from the industry. Founders of the project would not have moved from a standstill without the important contribution of shipbuilders, classification communities, naval architects, designers, sealing systems, and test equipment suppliers.
Taking into account all the difficulties that should overcome, it is not surprising that the offshore exploration and production of LNG for decades behind the oil. However, due to the growing demand for gas around the world and significant technological advancements, an offshore liquefied natural gas should have a significant impact on the economy of the world.
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