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FLNG Fundamentals

Module 1.1: Introduction to FLNG


LNG industry overview

Development and history
LNG properties and specifications
Opportunities and advantages of FLNG
Offshore considerations and challenges

FLNG Essentials

Most gas is transported by pipeline - Why LNG?

Volume advantage for storage and transportation

Transport over wide and deep oceans

Economic advantage of LNG vs. pipeline gas dependent on distance

World Bank estimates 140 billion standard cubic metres of gas was
flared in 2011 (about 40% of the LNG traded), producing 360 million
tonnes of CO2 without any beneficial heat or power production

Disadvantages of natural gas liquefaction:

Energy intensive

Capital intensive

Requires specialised terminals and carriers

Purity Requirements

Cryogenic handling (materials, safety)


FLNG Essentials

Most gas is liquefied onshore -Why FLNG?

FLNG is predicted to become an important sector of the LNG

While most of the easy onshore gas fields have been tapped, there are
considerable stranded gas reserves offshore
There is growing opposition to locating LNG plants onshore (e.g. James
Price Point in Australias Kimberley Region) for environmental or land
use zoning factors. Floating LNG import terminals are already gaining
popularity for this reason
Environmental impacts may be reduced one example is reduction of
dredging in harbours for laying gas pipelines and for entry of LNG
Possible cost and schedule advantages, though FLNG operating
expense may be high
As with any novel application of technology, some risk is associated with
initial application of FLNG. Teething problems can be expected with
the first FLNG applications, but subsequent FLNG projects can be
expected to become more straightforward
Experience gained by first FLNG operators will provide a competitive


FLNG Essentials

Development History

The cryogenic industry developed in the second half of the nineteenth

century. Among others, Dr Carl von Linde developed and patented air and
gas separation technologies in Munich, Germany. The LNG industry started
its early development in the USA by using LNG technology for natural gas
peak shaving.

1964: First base load LNG export plant begins operation in Arzew, Algeria
using a cascade process designed and constructed by Technip/Air Liquid.
Exports were initially to Canvey Island, UK and Le Havre, France.

The first LNG cargo from Arzew was transported to Canvey Island on the
River Thames in England on board the first purpose-built LNG carrier
Methane Princess, which had a capacity of 27,000 m3.

1968: The mixed refrigerant concept was presented in a paper at the LNG-1
conference in Chicago

1969: Kenai LNG plant comes on stream in Alaska USA, designed and
constructed by Phillips Petroleum and Bechtel, exporting to Japan. The
Kenai plant was mothballed for a while in 2012 but is currently back in
production with licence to export until 2015

1970: An LNG plant using an SMR process by APCI started up in Marsa El

Brega, Libya, exporting to Italy and Spain

FLNG Essentials

Development History

Air Products developed the SMR process into the C3/MR process which
was first applied in Brunei, starting up in 1972

The C3/MR process enjoyed unprecedented success between 1972 and

1999, with train sizes increasing from 1.4 MTPA (Brunei) to 3.2 MTPA
(QatarGas). The only other technology built during this 27 year period
was the Prico SMR process in Skikda Algeria by Pritchard-Rhodes (now
Black & Veatch)

In 1999, the first Optimised Cascade train (3 MTPA) started up in Port

Fontin Trinidad designed by ConocoPhillips and Engineered by Bechtel

The Trinidad plant reintroduced competition into the industry and

though APCI continued to dominate, both C3/MR and Optimised
Cascade technologies were successfully developed reaching train sizes
of 5 MTPA around 2005. In this period, there was a boom in
construction of LNG plants and costs began to escalate significantly

In 2004, Shell began to license its own version of the C3/MR process (a
long-held ambition) starting with the Australian North West Shelf Train 4
at 4.2 MTPA


FLNG Essentials

Development History

Linde developed the Multifluid Cascade process which was implemented in

the Norwegian Snohvit LNG plant, starting up in 2007 with a train size of
4.3 MTPA. Initially, the Snohvit plant exhibited poor availability and was
frequently shut down for cleaning, repair or modification

Meanwhile Shell developed the Dual Mixed Refrigerant process and

successfully applied it on Sakhalin Island in Russia with train sizes of 4.8
MTPA, starting up in 2008

At Gastech in 2002, APCI rolled out its large train APX process. After
much development, the first 7.8 MTPA APX train was started up in Qatar in
2009. Six APX trains were built in total, all in Qatar, for RasGas and
QatarGas. The last, QatarGas IV, started up in 2011

Other licensors, including ConocoPhillips and Shell, have designed large

scale process, but at present there appear to be no plans to build any new
trains of significantly larger capacity than 5 MTPA

Construction of new liquefaction capacity slowed, with Pluto being the only
new train added in 2012. Angola LNG joined the ranks of LNG exporters
in 2013. PNG LNG started up in 2014, along with an Algerian expansion
train and the first train using Queensland coal seam gas (QCLNG).


FLNG Essentials

Development History (FLNG)

After years of research and development of several prototype FLNG

facilities, Shell announced FID for a floating LNG facility, Prelude, offshore
northwest Australia in 2011. Prelude will use the Shell DMR process for a
single train of 3.6 MTPA capacity. The FLNG facility is now under
construction at Samsung shipyards in Korea and will be the largest
floating structure ever constructed

In 2013, Petronas achieved FID for its PFLNG1 floating LNG project.
PFLNG1 will use a nitrogen expander process with a capacity of 1.2
MTPA and will be positioned off Sarawak

Also in 2013, Exmar and Pacific Rubiales announced that construction

had started on an FLNG project for Columbia, consisting of a barge
mounted liquefaction facility in near-shore, benign waters. Capacity is 0.5
MTPA using an SMR process, but project was deferred in 2015

In 2014, Petronas announced that FID had been reached for its PFLNG2
facility to be positioned offshore Sabah with a capacity of 1.5 MTPA

Golar also announced start on conversion of an LNG carrier for FLNG in

2014. A number of other FLNG facilities are in FEED stage or undergoing
concept development or preFEED


FLNG Essentials

Components of an LNG Plant



FLNG Essentials

Components of an LNG Plant

Gas Receiving, liquids
separation and stabilisation

Comments related to FLNG

Onshore LNG plants often have slug catchers
with a large footprint. For FLNG, reducing deck
space is paramount

Gas Treating Removal of

All required for FLNG. High sulphur
acid gases, water and mercury concentrations present a problem for floating

Heavy hydrocarbon removal

and fractionation

Dependent on feed gas composition. For

FLNG, less is better


SMR and expander cycle plants are simpler

with less equipment than larger plants with
multiple refrigerant cycles, but train size is
limited. They may be utilised in FLNG

Hydrocarbon refrigerant cycles MR same requirements as large scale LNG.

N2 Expander cycles advantage of no
hydrocarbon refrigerants

FLNG Essentials

Components of an LNG Plant


Comments related to FLNG

LNG Storage and


For FLNG, LNG storage will be below deck


FLNG needs to be self-contained for utility


Power Generation

Power requirements need to be generated on

board for FLNG

Gas and liquid


Same requirements as for large scale LNG plants.

Location of flares on FLNG is a challenge

Other infrastructure:
buildings, drainage,
security, emergency
response, fire and gas

Drainage and buildings require specific design to

suit the FLNG structure. Fire & gas and
emergency response systems require attention
due to FLNG being more congested than onshore


FLNG Essentials


Gas Pre-Treatment
Equipment required for pre-treatment of feed gas is common to all
LNG process technologies (depending on feed gas composition)
Acid Gas Removal Prevent freezing of CO2 during liquefaction
Typically amine processes are used

Dehydration Prevent freezing of water during liquefaction

Typically molecular sieve is used

Mercury Removal prevent Aluminium corrosion

A number of adsorbents are available

Heavy Hydrocarbon removal Prevent freezing during liquefaction

Typically distillation is used


FLNG Essentials



How is natural gas liquefied?


By using refrigeration


How does refrigeration work?


Carnot proposes the theory


FLNG Essentials


Carnot Cycle

The Carnot cycle was proposed by Nicolas Carnot in 1823

The Carnot cycle is a theoretical thermodynamic cycle to create a temperature

difference (i.e. heat pump or, in reverse, refrigeration) by inputting work


Reversible isothermal expansion


Isentropic (reversible adiabatic) expansion


Reversible isothermal compression


Isentropic compression

A real engine (left) compared to the Carnot cycle (right). The entropy of a real material changes
with temperature.


FLNG Essentials


Reverse Carnot Cycle
For liquefaction of natural gas, the
warm air in the diagram is replaced
by warm natural gas which is cooled
and liquefied by the refrigerant


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

For large-scale projects, LNG is stored and transported at

pressure slightly higher than atmospheric (50 to 200 mbar gauge)
At these pressures, LNG is stored at its bubble point, and heat
leakage into the storage container is balanced by boil-off
LNG bubble point at these pressures is typically in the range -165
0C to -160 0C, depending on composition
Low pressure storage reduces cost of containment and reduces
probability and severity of leaks
Typical insulation specifications for boil-off are 0.05% per day for
onshore storage, and 0.15 to 0.25% per day for LNG carriers (% of
LNG boiled off per day, based on total storage volume)
LNG boil-off may be compressed for use as fuel, or reliquefied
Pressurised LNG storage and transport can be economic for
smaller storage vessels and trucking operations


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

LNG is :

LNG Properties Video


less dense than water ~ 450kg/m3

non-toxic (may cause asphyxia by excluding oxygen)
LNG vapour typically appears as a visible white cloud since its cold
temperature causes moisture in the air to condense. LNG (the liquid
itself) is not flammable or explosive

The vapours formed at an LNG liquid pool surface are always fuel rich.
Because the LNG is boiling, the pool surface vapours contain near 100
% hydrocarbons consisting primarily of methane, especially early on
during the spill
The vapours need to mix with air in order to become flammable
LNG vapours will become flammable once mixed with enough air to a
concentration ranging from 5 to 15 % by volume

FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

The ignition of LNG vapours, when in the flammable range, is relatively easy
The minimum ignition energy of LNG vapours is approximately 0.29 mJ
If LNG is spilled on land or on water, some of the LNG vaporises immediately. If
ignition sources are present in locations where the vapour concentration is in the
flammable range, the most likely outcome will be an immediate ignition. The
resulting fire is sometimes termed a pool fire (even though it is the vapour which
burns, not the liquid)
LNG pool fire hazards are localized and as a result thermal radiation effects
(burns) are typically confined to within one or two pool diameters from the edge
of the flame
Thermal radiation is absorbed by water moisture and carbon dioxide present in
the air. In addition, thermal radiation intensity decays in proportion to the inverse
square of the distance from the radiation source (1/distance2)
Typically, a person exposed to a thermal radiation flux of 5 kW/m2 will feel pain in
20 seconds. Second degree burns are possible. 5 kW/m2 is often used as an
injury threshold

FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

If ignition is not immediate, the LNG vapours will continue to evolve and will
disperse in the prevailing direction of wind
If the wind speed is low and the atmosphere is stable, the vapours, being cold
and heavy, will remain close to the spill surface, and will persist for some time
until dispersed by wind. As heat is absorbed from the environment, the vapour
warms and becomes lighter than air
Cold LNG vapours drift in the direction of wind and become diluted as they mix
with more air
If the vapours continue to disperse without ignition, they will ultimately become
diluted to below the lower flammability limits of 5 % and will not burn or present a
hazard anymore

Typically, 2.5 % is used as a concentration threshold (1/2 the lower flammability

limit) when estimating flammable dispersion hazard zones in order to account for
the possibility of pocketing

Dilution therefore is one of the main methods used to control spills resulting
from a loss of containment of LNG
Water curtains and jets can be used to draw in air and dilute the cloud that is
generated (putting water directly onto liquid pools should be avoided)

FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

LNG Vapour leak showing water condensation


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

If the LNG vapours encounter an ignition source and ignition occurs

without the presence of confinement, a slow-burning flash fire will occur

Thermal radiation hazards are confined to the boundaries of the

flammable cloud and no appreciable overpressure is generated
provided the vapour cloud is not in a confined or congested area.

The flash fire outcome can change drastically in the presence of

significant confinement (3 walls or more), or congestion (equipment and
pipe work).

This is further exacerbated by flammable gas concentration close to

stoichiometry (~9.5% of methane in air) and the presence of higher
hydrocarbon in the LNG vapour (e.g. ethane and propane).

Though it is possible to have a transition from a deflagration to a

detonation, this has not been observed in practice in industrial
accidents and in experiments that simulate explosions in industrial


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

During actual spills of LNG on water, a phenomenon that is

observed early on during liquid pool development is a Rapid Phase
Transition (RPT)

A rapid phase transition is the very rapid (near spontaneous)

formation of vapours as the cold LNG is vaporized from heat gained
from the underlying spill surface

Because the vapour is evolved very rapidly, localized overpressure

is created. This is also sometimes described as a physical explosion

The hazard potential of rapid phase transitions can be severe, but is

highly localized within the spill area

In one large scale field trial, a rapid phase transition may have
ignited the evolved vapours

An Example of Rapid Phase Transition


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

Loss of containment leading to the formation of LNG liquid pools can also be
caused by a phenomenon called rollover

LNG rollover refers to the rapid release of LNG vapours from a storage tank
caused by stratification. The potential for rollover arises when two separate
layers of different densities (due to different LNG compositions) exist in a tank

In the top layer, the liquid becomes warmer due to heat leaking into the tank and
rises up to the surface, where it evaporates

Lighter gases are preferentially evaporated and the liquid in the upper layer
becomes denser. In the bottom layer, the warmed liquid rises towards the
interface by free convection but does not evaporate due to the hydrostatic head
exerted by the top layer

The lower layer becomes warmer and less dense

As the densities of two layers approach each other, the two layers mix rapidly,
and the lower layer which has been superheated gives off large amounts of
vapour as it rises to the surface of the tank

Rollover is thought to be more likely if LNG nitrogen content is high

For FLNG, rollover is unlikely to present a problem since sloshing due to sea
state motions ensures mixing of tank contents


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

LNG Tank Rollover


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

The main hazard arising out of a rollover accident is the rapid
release of large amounts of vapour leading to potentially hazardous
situations. It is also possible that the tank pressure relief system is
not able to handle the rapid boil off rates, and as a result the storage
tank will fail and lead to the rapid release of large amounts of liquid
LNG forming a liquid pool.
LNG operators avoid rollover by carefully monitoring the
compositions, temperatures and densities and by keeping tank
contents well-mixed using mechanical means such as pumps to
circulate the liquid


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

LNG specifications are applied for different reasons:

Many of the specifications applied to LNG are relevant for the

liquefaction/transportation/regasification processes and are common
throughout the industry. Examples are specifications for mercury, nitrogen,
water, CO2, C5+, aromatics

Other specifications are concerned with the end use of regasified LNG and are
related to pipeline specifications or the design of gas burners in the receiving
country. Examples are heating value, wobbe number, NGL/LPG content,

Receiving terminals may import LNG outside of the normal specifications (such
as heating value) but then must modify the properties in the receiving terminal
so that the gas will be suitable for in-country use. For instance to reduce
heating value, LPG components may be extracted (before regasification) or
nitrogen may be added (after regasification). To increase heating value, a
terminal may be equipped to spike the LNG with LPG in order to raise heating

Other specifications common for pipeline gas such as dewpoint are not of
concern since the liquefaction process requirements are far more stringent
than pipeline specifications


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

LNG Specification for facility design:

An LNG specification is provided for design of the facilities, usually

in the Basis of Design. The design contractor must guarantee that
facilities, when built, can meet the specification

The gas treating facilities must be designed to meet the

specification for contaminants such as CO2, sulphur compounds,
water and mercury, taking account of the feed gas composition

The process design for the liquefaction facilities must ensure that
LNG can be produced to meet the specifications for properties
such as heating value and compositions of hydrocarbon
components and nitrogen

The heat and material balances and high level process design to
meet the liquefaction process requirements are usually carried out
by the liquefaction process licensor such as APCI or


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

LNG Specifications for Sales Contracts:

LNG specifications are also provided in LNG sales contracts,

usually referred to as SPAs. These specifications are contractually
binding and failure to meet them may result in refusal to accept an
LNG cargo, or may incur a financial penalty.

The LNG export facility may have separate SPAs with a number of
different customers, so it is important that the specifications in
each of these agreements should be compatible with the
specification provided for design of the plant.

Since the marketing department of a company is often separate

from the project design department, this is not always

In addition to specifying the allowable ranges for LNG

compositions and properties, the SPA will typically also specify
calculation methods or international standards to determine exactly
how the properties will be calculated


FLNG Essentials


LNG Properties and Specifications

Sample LNG specification for a typical liquefaction plant

High Heating Value (ideal) 1050 - 1150
Butanes and heavier
Pentanes and heavier
Hydrogen Sulphide
Total Sulphur


FLNG Essentials

BTU/ Scf
% mol maximum
% mol minimum
% mol maximum
% mol maximum
mg/Nm3 maximum
mg/Nm3 maximum


Examples of LNG Characteristics (from GIIGNL)


FLNG Essentials


Opportunities / Advantages of FLNG

World Energy Outlook (International Energy Agency)
The share of natural gas in the global energy mix increases from 21% to 25%
in 2035, pushing the share of coal into decline and overtaking it by 2030
Trade between the main world regions more than doubles, with the increase of
around 629 bcm split evenly between pipeline gas and Liquefied Natural Gas
An increase in production equal to about 3 times the current production of
Russia will be required simply to meet the growth in gas demand by 2035

All predictions are for natural gas usage and LNG trade to grow substantially
over the coming decades. With recent developments, it seems increasingly
likely that FLNG will become a major contributor to the predicted increases in
LNG trade and production


FLNG Essentials


Opportunities / Advantages of FLNG

Drivers for FLNG

Proven technology is available (although building an LNG plant on a floating

platform still involves novelties and challenges)

A floating LNG vessel is potentially re-deployable (although modifications

may be required when feed gas composition varies significantly - a fully
flexible design to accommodate all feed gas compositions is not practical)
and therefore may be viable for smaller gas reserves

Cost effective way of monetising smaller and more remote gas reserves

Cost savings can be realised e.g. by eliminating long subsea pipelines,

offshore processing and compression

Potential to avoid problems with land-based LNG plants such as land

access, delays in obtaining permits, eliminating need for new infrastructure
and influx of construction workers when the LNG plant is in a remote


FLNG Essentials


Opportunities / Advantages of FLNG

Some of the factors likely to be critical for success of the first FLNG
ventures are:

Combination of LNG knowhow, FPSO experience and LNG shipbuilding

expertise e.g. Shell/Technip/Samsung or Linde/SBM/Daewoo

Recognition of novel aspects (risks); willingness, methodology and

knowhow to address them

Research and design development to address novel aspects such as

effect of motion on LNG equipment, LNG offloading at sea

Finance financial backers are harder to find until the technology

application is regarded as proven


FLNG Essentials


Offshore Considerations and Challenges

LNG plants are relatively complex to operate and maintain, and doing this
in a marine environment with less available space adds additional

Motion of the FLNG carrier due to sea state makes operation and
maintenance operations more difficult, e.g. working on rotating equipment
and other machinery with precise tolerances

Emergency operations such as fire fighting become more difficult in a

floating environment

A marine atmosphere can be more corrosive for equipment and pipework

(including stress corrosion cracking), though this is already well-known
since many LNG plants are located in tropical coastal environments

Compared with onshore LNG plants, staff live and work in a relatively
confined space

Escape and evacuation procedures and drills are more complex and
assume more importance compared with onshore plants

Major turnaround maintenance may require additional accommodation for

maintenance personnel e.g. separate floating accommodation vessels


FLNG Essentials


Offshore Considerations and Challenges

(according to TOTAL)
The challenges of floating LNG (FLNG) derive mainly from the need to fit process
operations that typically have a very extensive onshore footprint into a small space
offshore. This raises numerous issues, especially with regard to:

The size of the FPSO, which must have room to accommodate the gas production,
processing and liquefaction facilities as well as living quarters for a crew of 200 to 300
people. However, due to economic considerations as well as construction constraints,
its dimensions must be as compact as possible

Integration, because the space limitations of a floating plant dictate a specific process
layout that requires some stacking of equipment. Installing the production facilities on
deck and the LNG storage in the hull of the vessel creates some architectural
challenges as well

Marinisation of equipment, because process installations must be designed to

withstand wave action. This is especially important to ensure proper processing of the
gas prior to liquefaction, as the feed gas for the liquefaction process must comply with
stringent specifications

Safety, because the close proximity of process units - and above all the living quarters
just adjacent to them - make safety issues even more acute than for an onshore plant.
Safety is also a central focus when it comes to offloading the LNG onto methane
carriers, and innovative transfer systems are being developed for this context


FLNG Essentials