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Out with the old, in with the new

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LNG Industry,

Emmanuel Guilhamon, Rockwell Automation, explores how to optimise efficiency for LNG carriers with a modern distributed control system.

The restricted nature of gas supply owing to volatile geopolitical developments in and around Europe has heralded a new dawn for LNG, as the region continues to navigate its energy security landscape. After several years of weak supply growth, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) predicts that the global LNG market will see a tidal wave of new projects online starting in mid-2025. They expect the wave will crest in 2026, with the addition of 64 million tpy of liquefaction capacity – the most in the history of the global LNG industry. The supply additions will boost global liquefaction capacity by roughly 13% in a year.

A real-life example

This growth has created intense pressure on existing infrastructure and assets, with operators keen to ensure that they can maximise their utilisation. That is the case for two LNG carriers, the LNG Portovenere and LNG Lerici, built in 1997, and well into their expected lifespan. However, their owner, along with the management company, EXMAR Ship Management, decided to extend the life of the ships for a further 15 years, so they activated a modernisation plan.

In addition to overhauling the boilers, pumps, and turbines, the project also included the modernisation of all control systems, from the central management system to the system used for the turbines and turbopumps. The design and implementation of the new automation system were assigned to the Safety Systems and Information Division of the Italian company, Leonardo. A global high-tech company and one of the leading players in the aerospace, defence, and security sectors, the company is a leader in designing and providing high-integrity security systems and process safety systems.

Based on its in-depth knowledge of Rockwell Automation solutions and long-term collaboration with its team, Leonardo opted to deploy a new infrastructure controlled by the PlantPAx distributed control system (DCS).

The PlantPAx system utilises a common automation platform for seamless integration between critical process areas and the balance of a facility; in this instance, a vessel. It connects process, power, information, and safety control into one vessel-wide infrastructure, increasing efficiencies and productivity across all layers of the operations. This solution eliminates disparate control systems, results in significant optimisation improvements, and helps reduce the total cost of ownership.

A DCS provides a wide range of architecture options for increased flexibility, energy efficiency, and throughput optimisation. The same platform can be used for single stations or large distributed architectures. It also offers scalable system capabilities – HMI, batch management, and data management that does not require extensive architectures – perfect for process skid equipment and rapid integration.


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LNG carrier news Natural gas news