Floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) is a new technology that will allow oil companies to access offshore gas fields that would otherwise be too costly or difficult to develop.
Moving the production and processing out to sea where the gas is typically found is a major innovation that brings huge new energy resources within reach.
It avoids the potential environmental impact of constructing and operating a plant on land, including laying pipelines to shore and building other infrastructure.
Oil company Shell claims to be the first company to adopt FLNG and is currently having its first FLNG platform – essentially an enormous ship – built by the Technip Samsung Consortium in South Korea.
Processing and storage
Once complete, the facility will have decks measuring 488 by 74 metres, the length of more than four football pitches. With its cargo tanks full it will weigh roughly six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier.
In spite of these huge proportions, the facility is one-quarter the size of an equivalent plant on land. Engineers have designed components that will stack vertically to save space. The operating plant, for example, will be placed above LNG storage tanks.
The facility’s storage tanks will be below deck. They can store up to 220,000 m3 of LNG, 90,000 m3 of LPG, and 126,000 m3 of condensate. The total storage capacity is equivalent to around 175 Olympic swimming pools.
The first site to use Shell’s FLNG will be the Prelude gas field, around 125 miles off Australia’s north-west coast. The Prelude FLNG facility will produce at least 5.3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of liquids: 3.6mtpa of LNG – enough to easily satisfy Hong Kong’s annual natural gas needs – 0.4mtpa of liquefied petroleum gas and 1.3mtpa of condensate.
Shell is to undertake drilling of seven wells and the drilling programme will be supported out of Broome, Western Australia.
A floating platform has an obvious need for a range of resilient, flexible communications and Alcatel-Lucent with the Technip Samsung Consortium (TSC) is set to provide an advanced communications system for Shell’s new Prelude ‘floating liquefied natural gas’ (FLNG) facility, the first of its kind in the world.
The system will enhance the safety and efficiency of operations and provide entertainment and communications services for crew members on the facility.
Alcatel-Lucent will use its experience in working in the oil and gas industry to provide a robust and reliable communications system, vital for working a remote and harsh environment such as this. The system will enhance safety and maintain critical communications links with other vessels, aircraft and on-shore facilities for operational and emergency support.
It will also provide much needed entertainment and communications services for the crew living on board the facility for long periods of time, to allow them to connect with friends and family onshore.
Equipment being installed includes communication towers, video conferencing tools and security systems such as CCTV cameras and satellite systems.
Rajeev Singh-Molares, president of Alcatel-Lucent Asia Pacific Region, said: ‘This project represents a great opportunity to demonstrate to the oil and gas industry our expertise in integrating high-performance, reliable communications systems that perform essential operational activities, as well as ensuring the safety of the workforce and the environment.’
For this project Alcatel-Lucent will bring its extensive experience in engineering, project management and integration services to deliver a comprehensive communications system that integrates a wide variety of elements.
These include operations, safety and entertainment systems such as: trunk and marine radio communications; air communications radar recorder (black box); beacons; local and wide area networks; voice over IP; closed circuit TV; public address alarm systems; distress and safety systems; GPS; weather monitoring; and search and rescue transponders.