Liquefied natural gas (LNG) technology—from LNG seaborne tankers and LNG trains to floating LNG facilities have quickly gone from concept to commercialization, opening up new possibilities in new frontiers and rendering the remote—well, much less remote.
Liquefaction of natural gas is the process of super-cooling natural gas to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 162 degrees Celsius) at which point it becomes much safer and easier to transport. After shipped to its destination, regasification plants at importing or receiving terminals return the fuel to a gaseous state.
Floating LNG production, storage and offloading concepts are revolutionary because they have the ability to station a vessel directly over distant fields, removing the need for offshore pipelines and adding the advantage of mobility—these floating facilities can be moved to a new location once existing fields are depleted.
Floating liquefaction technology can bring additional LNG supply by accessing stranded gas reserves that were previously thought to be too remote, small or otherwise challenging for conventional land-based LNG development.
Shell’s most prized LNG project is its Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project in Australia, which is moored some 200 kilometers out to sea and will produce gas from offshore fields and liquefy it onboard. This vessel will be six times bigger than the biggest aircraft carrier and will cost between $10.8 and $12.6 billion to build—but it also means that Shell won’t have to pay rising prices in Australia’s onshore LNG plants. The facility will produce about 3.6 million metric tons of LNG and 1.3 million tons of gas condensate a year.