No jetty, no problem
Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017
Wartsila has led the development of a new “jettyless” LNG transfer system that it hopes will open up small-scale LNG power developments in remote areas

Despite the increasing interest in LNG as a power source for remote communities, its actual uptake has been limited, mainly as a result of the major civil works often required to construct the necessary harbours, quaysides and jetties. A lack of available investment, as well as environmental concerns over building work, may thus be holding back the technology from widespread adoption.

In response, Finland’s Wartsila has collaborated on a “jettyless” LNG supply concept that seeks to provide an alternative solution for transferring LNG from ship to shore on islands and other coastal areas.

Alongside marine design consultancy Houlder and hose supplier Trelleborg, the consortium announced the introduction of the infrastructure system, aimed primarily at small to mid-scale LNG power plants, at the start of April.

The partners said that their newly developed concept allowed the transfer of LNG from small to mid-scale carriers to onshore or floating storage and regasification terminals where it was not feasible to build a jetty for mooring the vessel.

The system uses a so-called floating transfer terminal (FTT), developed by Houlder, and is equipped with a self-propelled barge to transport LNG vessels moored up to 800 metres offshore. The terminal is outfitted with an integrated transfer arm, also developed by Houlder and KLAW LNG. Gianpaolo Benedetti, Houlder’s LNG business development manager, described the floating transfer terminal as “taking the jetty to the LNG vessel, rather than have the LNG vessel come to the jetty.”

Additionally, Trelleborg Cryoline LNG floating hoses are also used to transfer the LNG and boil-off gas between the barge and any shore facility. They work at a maximum operating pressure of 20 bar and can be used in floating, submarine or aerial configurations, with various hose sizes supplied depending on the pressure of the gas supply. They feature an integrated leak monitoring system, and when not in use, are stored onshore with a custom-designed reel system.

According to Wartsila estimates provided to InnovOil, the jettyless concept could be used at distances of up to 600m from the shore.

Floating an idea
Wartsila LNG solutions sales and marketing director Kenneth Engblom spoke with InnovOil regarding the system’s development. As with many such innovations, he is keen to point out that the project was prompted by requests from clients. “We are the LNG solutions provider and we can build traditional jetties, but we hope to build simpler, better and faster solutions. It’s not in our interest to execute complicated, expensive, time-consuming projects – our only interest is to get LNG to our clients as cheap as possible.”

In looking to make these projects cheaper and simpler, Wartsila brought cable firm Trelleborg into the picture. The company had recently qualified the world’s first floating LNG (FLNG) transfer hose – an innovation which would go some way towards solving the problem of delivering LNG out to sea without a jetty. “We then thought about different solutions – for example having it permanently floating or designing a small ship to bring it in and out – and that’s when we brought in Houlder.” In response, the engineering consultancy designed the floating transfer mechanism to complete the concept.

Although the industry may just be waking up to new equipment like floating hoses, nothing here is unproven. “There are really no new components,” Engblom says. “The loading arm has been on the market before, the hose is new but it was approved last year, the emergency break from the FTT has been there before – it’s just combining these existing components into a new solution.”

In addition to environmental benefits, the FTT also enables significant cost reductions compared to a jetty. While Wartsila is reluctant to offer a set figure – prices usually depend on a number of engineering and supply factors – these can make a significant dent in project capex, especially in such remote locations and areas where labour and construction may be difficult. “The FTT is manufactured in a workshop, so all of that work that would otherwise happen on site is done in a factory. You still have to have something onshore, somewhere to store the FTT and hose reel, which requires some site installation, but there is a big cost benefit,” Engblom adds.

He believes the concept will be of most interest to developers of remote, small-scale LNG-to-power projects, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and even the Mediterranean.

It is still early days for commercial offering of the system, but Engblom is optimistic that Wartsila’s clients will be quick to see its value. And, as small-scale LNG production and consumption become even more widespread, the space and cost economy of the FTT concept may become the preference. The days of the LNG jetty might already be numbered.

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