The Italian energy conglomerate Eni and its Area 4 partners launched the hull of the Coral Sul floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) treatment and liquefaction facility at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in Geoje, South Korea.
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The FLNG is part of the Coral South project that will put in production 450 billion cubic meters of gas of the Coral reservoir, offshore Mozambique.
The launch marks the timely progress of the project, which exceeds 60 percent completion and is in line with production start-up by 2022, Eni. The hull is 432 meters long, 66 meters wide and weighs approximately 140,000 tons. Its eight-story accommodation module, which will house up to 350 people, is also ready to be lifted and integrated with the hull system. Fabrication activities are also well underway for the 12 gas treatment and LNG modules, with all main equipment ready for integration and first deck stacking executed, Eni said.
The FLNG will have a liquefaction capacity of 3.4 million tons per year (MTPA) and will be anchored at a water depth of around 2,000 meters by means of 20 mooring lines that weigh a combined 9,000 tons. Eni noted that drilling and completion activities for the six subsea wells that will feed the liquefaction unit are ongoing offshore Mozambique.
Eni is the delegated operator for the Coral South FLNG project, the first project to monetise the gas resources discovered in Area 4, Mozambique. The Area 4 participants are Eni (25%), ExxonMobil (25%), CNPC (20%), Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos E.P. (10%), Kogas (10%) and Galp Energia (10%).
The FLNG construction started with the steel cut for the ship’s turret, which took place in March this year in Singapore. The other main component of the FLNG, the topside modules, will also be built in South Korea at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyards and the construction is planned to start end of this year, according to Eni.
What is an FLNG?
Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) systems are entire facilities that deal with the offshore storage, processing and transport of LNG. These massive vessels use the same systems as land-based LNG plants, meaning gas can be processed closer to the source without having to lay miles of pipelines to get the gas to the nearest coastal facility. Being able to process this opens up massive new potential sources, miles out to sea, that would previously have been too difficult or costly to take advantage of.
How does an FLNG work?
Natural gas is extracted from the the seabed and transported through flowlines to the nearby FLNG. While onboard the vessel it will be treated and liquefied – a process that involves supercooling the gas to -160 degrees C to turn it in to a liquid.
The liquid gas is then stored on the vessel in tanks, until it is transferred to LNG carriers who can transport to processing plants.
Owned by Shell, the Prelude FLNG is the biggest floating structure ever built. The $14bn craft has a length of 488 metres – longer than four football fields. It was moved into position over the Prelude gas field, 120 miles off the coast of Western Australia, in December 2017. When up and running it will have the capacity for 1.2 million tonnes of LNG per year, with a storage equivalent of 175 olympic swimming pools.
Eni – Coral FLNG
The Coral FLNG is a project run by the Italian oil company Eni, which is due to begin LNG production in 2022. Components are being built in South Korea and Singapore, with the completed project taking place in Area 4, offshore Mozambique. This mammoth vessel will have the capacity for an incredible 3.4 million tonnes of LNG per year.
Benefits of LNG
LNG facilities extract natural gas that has been trapped deep underground and supercool it to a clear, non-toxic liquid. This reduces its volume 600 times, meaning it can be shipped more easily and more safely to regasification plants around the world. These plants convert it back in to a flammable gas which can then be burned to generate heat and electricity.
Natural gas is one of the cleanest and safest energy sources currently available. When burned it produces half the amount of CO2 as coal, and less than 10% of air pollutants. With renewable sources failing to meet energy needs, gas is the cleanest economically viable method of producing power.
Over the last few years, demand for natural gas has risen dramatically. In 2000, less than 100 million tonnes of LNG per year was being produced. In 2017 that was 284 million tonnes and in 2018 it’s expected to rise to 308 million tonnes. Growing reliance on the fuel in Asia and Africa follows a surge in production in the US, meaning usage is expected to continue rising over the next few years. Therefore it is essential to develop new technologies to reach greater gas fields out to sea.
FLNG facilities also have their own environmental benefits over land-based plants. Being able to store extracted gas on a facility near the field reduces the need for onshore construction and excessively long pipelines. With a lifespan of over 20 years, FLNGs can be redeployed to other fields once they have depleted the gas source – reducing the need for further construction.
Developing an FLNG raises its own challenges. For the system to be viable, they must include all the same facilities as a land-based LNG plant, allowing them to maximise their output. Even though engineers have managed to fit all the necessary components in to a space a quarter of the size of the land-based plants, they are still the largest floating vessels in the world.
The massive increase in demand of LNG over the last few years has allowed more FLNG projects to be started, with up to 22 vessels expected to be active by 2022, and more planned in the future.
The discovery of immense natural gas reserves ten years ago created hope that the economic situation and consequently, living standards of the population, will improve dramatically in Mozambique.