RISC’s Martin Wilkes comments on the Floating LNG terminal concept and how it could resurrect Australia’s so far less-than-successful LNG small-scale industry

EAST coast operators and governments debating whether to import LNG via a floating regasification facility could do worse than look to GasTech in Tokyo next week where three European giants will unveil a new floating transfer terminal concept.

Anthony Barich | 27 March 2017

While the technology has been developed for coastal communities and archipelagos which have limited appetite for the major civil works required for new harbours, quaysides and jetties due to environmental sensitivities and lack of readily available investment, anything is possible as stakeholders scramble for solutions to Australia’s east coast gas crisis.

Enter UK-based marine consultancy Houler, Finnish infrastructure provider, power generation expert Wartsila and Swedish hose supplier Trelleborg who have come up with a floating transfer terminal [FTT] comprising a self-propelled barge that shuttles to and from LNG vessels moored at up to 800m offshore.

Given Queensland has vessels moving in and out of the Port of Gladstone all the time, Houlder LNG business development manager Gianpaolo Benedetti’s description of the new concept as “taking the jetty to the LNG vessel, rather than have the LNG vessel come to the jetty” gives food for thought for east coast players.

The barge provides a base for a Houlder transfer system developed with KLAW LNG, a hybrid hose handling system that facilitates a safe and secure connection with the LNG vessel.

Trelleborg CRYOLINE LNG floating hoses are then used to transfer of LNG and boil off gas between the barge and any shore facility.

Trelleborg says the hoses combine high flexibility, reliability and long service life ensuring that LNG operators’ and contractors’ offloading requirements related to safety, flow rate and operational availability are fully met.

The FTT is a flexible, quickly deployable solution that, thanks to a low draft barge and floating hoses, can operate in the widest possible range of locations at a fraction of the cost of fixed infrastructure.

“Our challenge has been to develop a safe and cost effective solution which also reduces impact on some of the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas,” Benedetti said.

As an engineering, procurement and construction contractor, Wartsila believes the new technology enables it to do even smarter total LNG terminal solutions for various types of small-scale LNG opportunities, where a jetty would be an expensive and time-consuming solution to execute.

RISC Advisory’s Perth-based principal Martin Wilkes told Energy News last year that Australia could resurrect its so far less-than-successful LNG small-scale industry by opening up to international markets, particularly Asian countries like Indonesia which are already using small-scale LNG “shuttle” style runs.

“It’s worked a bit on the mainland, particularly in Java where they have floating storage and regasification units operating, and supplying gas into the grid. In the future they can potentially use these as break-bulk facilities to which large-scale LNG carriers are offloading, and small-scale LNG carriers shuttling smaller volumes across the archipelago,” Wilkes said.

“Volumes can be delivered, hopefully from Australia, into the Java bay, then (they can) shuttle it to users on remote islands, and what’s remaining goes into the Jakarta main grid.

“So you can see there a set-up which is allowing a combination of international and local trade, and that’s something which hasn’t really been done before.”

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