ConocoPhillips discusses the latest technical innovations in LNG

In this interview Gastech News got the opportunity to ask Gastech Governing Body Member Karl Masani, Director LNG Technology & Licensing at ConocoPhillips, for his thoughts on the latest technical innovations enhancing the LNG industry, ConocoPhillips’ key projects utilizing the Optimized Cascade process and where they see the most attractive growth opportunities.

 

Gastech News: What are the latest technical innovations enhancing the LNG industry pertaining to natural gas liquefaction?

Karl Masani: For the most recent projects under construction or in operation, the LNG industry has primarily focused on maximizing efficiency of the liquefaction process in the most cost effective manner as possible. The primary technical innovations pertain to the implementation of the most advanced and efficient aeroderivative gas turbine compressor drivers such as GE’s LM2500+G4 and the GE LM6000 PF, and the use of inlet air chilling. These gas turbines are among the most efficient in the world which enhance and improve liquefaction economics, reduce emissions, and have high availability.

ConocoPhillips was the first to utilize gas turbines for its Kenai LNG facility in 1969 and was also a pioneer in implementing the first use of aeroderivative gas turbines for its Darwin LNG facility. There are currently 96 aeroderivative gas turbines in operation or construction as refrigerant compressor drivers at 16 LNG trains utilizing ConocoPhillips Optimized Cascade® process. Several LNG facilities at Curtis Island, Australia were the first to successfully implement inlet air chilling, which cools the air to a constant temperature prior to entering the gas turbine.

This element increases LNG production in high ambient conditions and effectively helps to maintain a consistent annual LNG production. The combination of aeroderivative gas turbines and inlet air chilling have enhanced LNG production and increased efficiency to a new industry level.

Gastech News: What are ConocoPhillips’ key projects at the moment utilizing the Optimized Cascade process and where does ConocoPhillips see the most attractive growth opportunities?

Karl Masani: There are 25 liquefaction trains worldwide either in operation or under construction that utilize the Optimized Cascade® process for a total combined capacity over 100 MMTPA. Our current focus is on the construction phase for Wheatstone LNG, Sabine Pass LNG and Corpus Christi LNG projects.

There are multiple growth opportunities in different segments of the LNG market, but the two regions currently drawing a lot of interest are North America and East Africa. We are also developing a mid-scale LNG train design with a capacity of 1.5 – 2.0 MMTPA and are working toward introducing it to the market in 2017.

Gastech News: How and what can companies such as ConocoPhillips do to best future-proof their LNG liquefaction projects from major market downturns?

Karl Masani: Future-proofing a multi-billion dollar LNG project is an excessively difficult task, but can be accomplished to some degree if there is a stringent focus on key project variables apart from project cost and schedule. The design of a liquefaction project must maintain a low cost while balancing safety, high efficiency, high availability, low emissions, ease of operations and turndown flexibility. Keeping the liquefaction design simple without the use of excessive, stringent specifications leads to a cost-effective facility that can better adapt to a market downturn.

ConocoPhillips has been a pioneer in designing all its liquefaction units around a 2-in-1 concept where a minimum of two gas turbines power each refrigerant compressor, providing for an exceptionally high plant availability, and low turndown to close to 35% during adverse conditions. As an owner and operator of liquefaction facilities since 1969, we continue to take great pride in designing our liquefaction process to allow for operational flexibility and the ability to rapidly respond appropriately to changes in operating and market conditions.

Currently, there is a growing interest in modular mid-scale LNG that can be installed and brought on line in an incremental fashion as LNG demand increases. This not only reduces the initial capital cost and schedule, but also closely matches LNG supply with demand, thus lowering financing costs.

Gastech News: Being an important part of the Gastech Governing Body, what are you hoping to gain from attending Gastech in Japan next April?

Karl Masani: Gastech is one of the world’s leading conferences that encourages an open forum to present, learn, discuss, and network within the gas industry. I look forward to staying abreast of current developments in the LNG industry and networking with other LNG industry professionals. It is a prestigious global event where we can meet various stakeholders involved in every facet of the LNG industry every 18 months.

Tuesday, April 4th at 11:10am – Ryan M. Lance, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer for ConocoPhillips, will be participating in an International Energy Leadership Panel Debate on “How Resilient are the Gas & LNG Industries as Part of a Future Global Energy” at the Gastech Conference 2017 in Chiba – Tokyo. View the Gastech conference programme and book your delegate place today.

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