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In 2015, it was estimated that within five years international trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would grow more than two times (Carpenter 107). The increase in demand for natural gas is justified by the acknowledgment of advantages it demonstrates in terms of power generation, particularly from the environmental perspective. A significant contribution to the development in this sphere is expected from floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) technologies. FLNG is a principally different way of LNG production, storage, and delivery. It will create a system and an infrastructure, where many activities associated with the natural gas production chain will be performed in the field. The entire process from extracting natural gas to delivering it to the market will be modified by the FLNG model, which makes FLNG a game-changer in the industry.
Floating liquefied natural gas
First of all, the FLNG technologies expand the availability of many gas pools around the world, the access to which has been previously challenged. According to recent estimations, approximately half of all gas available for extraction on the planet is located out in the sea, at a depth of more than 200 m and a distance of more than 250 km from the nearest shore (Carpenter 107). Dealing with these pools is difficult and often unprofitable. Due to this, much effort has been dedicated within recent decades to finding new solutions that would allow bringing this gas of difficult access to the market. The FLNG technology became such a solution, as it allows producing, storing, and transferring LNG at sea (Boekhorst, Steenson, and van der Velde 1). Therefore, more gas fields can be developed.
Second, the FLNG technology will significantly modify the industry because its introduction will require reconsidering and reconstructing many aspects of the existing infrastructure. Currently, the entire process is built around the model, in which gas is conveyed to onshore facilities where it is processed and prepared for further use. Introducing FLNG implies creating offshore facilities performing these functions, which means that the established infrastructure, including extraction, works equipment, pipelines, shipping, and other components of it will be changed dramatically (Boekhorst, Steenson, and van der Velde 1), affecting technological needs of the industry, its workforce, and its prospects.
Finally, for FLNG to become a game-changer, it needs to be adopted by major industry players. It is likely to happen due to the various advantages that these technologies possess. For example, FLNG allows achieving cost savings (Carpenter 107) and ensuring higher safety (Boekhorst, Steenson, and van der Velde 1). For example, an FLNG system in the sea will eliminate production platforms from the system, as well as processing platforms, offtake vessels, compressors, and pipelines, thus reducing the costs. Despite major changes in the system of LNG production that will be required by developing the FLNG technologies, large corporations demonstrate their willingness to pursue these technologies, which indicates their growing recognition of the benefits that the use of FLNG will bring.
The FLNG technologies are expected to become a game-changer because, first, they will make gas fields, the development of which has been challenged due to economic reasons, available for the market; second, they will change many aspects of the current infrastructure in the industry; and third, many major players are likely to shift to these technologies due to various benefits they provide. Judging from this, FLNG is expected to affect the power market to a significant extent in the nearest future.
Boekhorst, Alexander, Bruce Steenson, and Harry van der Velde. “FLNG: Applying Advanced Technology to Bring More Natural Gas to Market.” Offshore Technology Conference, 4-7 2015, Houston, TX, Offshore Technology Conference, 2015.
Carpenter, Chris. “Floating Liquefied Natural Gas Comes of Age.” Journal of Petroleum Technology, vol. 67, no. 4, 2015, pp. 107-109.