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Grasping the potential

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LNG Industry,

Kjell Ove Ulstein and Per Helge Madsen, Wärtsilä Gas Solutions AS, Norway, review the latest trends occurring in the LNG regasification sector and some of the new regasification technologies and supporting systems currently available and in development for FSRU conversions.

The global demand for LNG is increasing at a fairly rapid rate. According to Shell’s latest LNG Outlook, demand rose by 12.5% to 359 million t in 2019, while consulting giant McKinsey expects an average annual growth of 3.6% per year through 2035. This rise in demand places a strain on conventional shore-based regasification, which involves transferring the LNG to terminals for storage in tanks before it is regasified and pressurised with vaporising equipment, prior to it being delivered to the distribution networks.

During the past 15 years, alternative solutions have been developed that are faster and which, by extension, are also less expensive. Among these are Wärtsilä’s regasification modules designed for use onboard FSRUs, as well as shuttle and regasification vessels (SRVs).

Having the regasification (regas) equipment onboard the vessel allows high-pressure gas to be delivered to land-based networks, either via a floating buoy and submerged pipeline system from an offshore location, or via loading arms on a jetty. Both FSRUs and SRVs provide greater flexibility than conventional land-based regas facilities, and the time from investment decision to start-up is relatively short. By offering a fast-track means for opening energy markets, supply diversity is increased, costs are reduced, and environmental benefits are enhanced.

A further advantage of utilising an FSRU, rather than a fixed land-based regas facility, is that it can be moved to a new offshore location should the business environment change.

SRVs, which transport LNG in large quantities while also using the onboard regas equipment to vaporise the LNG before sending it to a land-based network, typically work in pairs using separate mooring buoys. The brief overlap between one shuttle arriving and the other departing allows a continuous flow of high-pressure natural gas to be supplied.

This is an abridged version of an article that was originally published in the November 2020 issue of LNG Industry. The full version can be read here.

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