Floating Liquefied Natural Gas in Nigeria (FLNG)
Floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) is a technology that enables the production, liquefaction, storage, and transfer of natural gas at sea.
However, it involves using a specialized vessel known as a floating LNG facility to extract, process, and store natural gas in its liquefied form.
Dec 2021, UTM Offshore Limited in collaboration with LNG Investment Management Services (LIMS), a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation PLC (NNPC), signed the deal in London, the capital and probably the largest city in the United Kingdom, for the front-end engineering design (FEED) of UTM’s natural gas project, which when completed will be Nigeria’s first FLNG plant.
The gas company is called UTM Offshore Limited, a Lagos-based energy conglomerate owned by Nigerian gas tycoon Julius Rone.
It has agreed to begin front-end engineering design (FEED) work on Nigeria’s first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility.
Together with LNG Investment Management Services, a division of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited.
Do not forget UTM Offshore Limited is leading the development of the FLNG facility.
The Planned Result
A newly constructed vessel will house the plant, which will take gas feedstock from an existing offshore facility.
Process it to the necessary LNG standard, liquefy the gas, store the LNG, and discharge it to LNG carriers.
When finished, it will be equipped with a turret and mooring system, gas pre-treatment modules, LNG production modules, living quarters, self-contained power generation and utilities, as well as capacities for LNG storage and offloading.
It will also have an annual LNG production capacity of 1.52 million tonnes (Mtpa).
The 1.52 Mtpa FLNG facility would be situated 60 km from the beach of Akwa Ibom State.
Also, it will have the capacity to handle 176 million standard cubic feet of natural gas and condensate per day.
It would also have a storage capacity of 200,000 cubic meters.
It was designed to meet the needs of the world energy market, with its initial production from the $5 billion FLNG facility expected in 2026,
UTM Offshore’s FLNG project will usher in a new age of LNG sector expansion in Nigeria and around the region as energy demand rises.
More on the FEED Contract
Prior to the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction phases.
UTM Offshore Limited will use the results of the studies conducted under the terms of the contract with the three companies to identify technical problems.
It will also make rough investment cost estimates for the FLNG plant. However, the FLNG project’s current phase will last 10 months.
Furthermore, the FEED contract signing comes after the pre-FEED agreement between JGC, a renowned international engineering design, procurement, and construction business, and UTM Offshore Limited was successfully completed.
The pre-FEED scope was finished four months after the start date.
KBR performed a third-party evaluation of all JGC deliverables during the pre-FEED in order for due diligence on the JGC scope.
With JGC and KBR, UTM Offshore Limited entered into a pre-FEED arrangement.
How Floating Liquefied Natural Gas Works
Here’s a general overview of how floating LNG works:
Natural gas is typically extracted from offshore gas fields using drilling platforms.
However, once the gas is brought to the surface, undergoes initial processing to remove impurities such as water, and contaminants.
The extracted natural gas needs to cool to a very low temperature to convert it to what’s known as liquefaction.
Apparently, this process is necessary for transportation and storage.
This is because liquefied natural gas (LNG) occupies significantly less volume than its gaseous form.
Liquefaction is achieved by subjecting the gas to extremely cold temperatures using a refrigeration process.
Also, the floating LNG facility has onboard storage tanks designed to hold the liquefied natural gas.
These tanks are typically insulated to maintain the low temperature required to keep the LNG in its liquid state.
The storage capacity of FLNG vessels can vary depending on their size and design.
Processing and purification
Before the LNG can be transferred to a carrier or transported to the shore, it may undergo further processing and purification onboard the FLNG facility.
This step involves removing any remaining impurities and adjusting the LNG composition to meet specific requirements for transport or sale.
Once the LNG has been processed and is ready for transport, it can be offloaded from the FLNG facility.
However, this is typically done by transferring the LNG to specialized carriers or LNG tankers.
Offloading can be accomplished through several methods, including ship-to-ship transfer or through the use of flexible transfer systems.
After offloading, the LNG is transported to its destination using LNG carriers or tankers. These vessels are specifically designed to transport LNG in its cryogenic liquid form.
The LNG is stored in insulated tanks on the carrier, and the vessel is equipped with safety measures to maintain the low temperature and prevent any leaks or accidents.
Regasification (at destination)
Finally, once the LNG reaches its destination, it undergoes a process called regasification, where it is converted back into its gaseous state.
This is achieved by warming the LNG using various methods such as heat exchangers or re-gasification plants. The resulting natural gas can then be transported through pipelines for distribution and use.
Furthermore, floating LNG facilities offer several advantages including
The ability to access offshore gas reserves that are not economically feasible to develop using traditional onshore infrastructure.
They also provide flexibility in terms of deployment and relocation, making them suitable for remote locations or temporary projects.
Please note that specific details and processes may vary depending on the design and configuration of the floating LNG facility.
What it means for Nigeria
Analysts believe the project will be a game change for Nigeria.
This is because of the potential for additional foreign exchange profits from natural gas exports to Europe.
However, at the agreement signing in London, Rone, CEO of UTM Offshore, said, “We chose FLNG because it was originally developed to help realize the promise of natural gas.
Specifically to bring gas to the global market from small offshore fields and nearshore terminals in areas lacking infrastructure, especially pipelines.
Also, according to NJ Ayuk, executive chairman of the African Energy Council, says the agreement signed by UTM Offshore will have a major impact on the African gas market.
The spread of FNLG throughout Africa began in Cameroon.
However, it has already reached Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria, highlighting the continent’s dedication to fully utilizing its gas resources.
According to Ayuk, UTM Offshore’s FLNG project development would create customers for economic development and energy security in Nigeria.
It will also help the local population have access to modern technical expertise and long-term employment opportunities.
What Minister Of State For Petroleum Resources says About Floating Liquefied Natural Gas in Nigeria
Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources said
The project supports the government’s ‘Decade of Gas’ strategy, which calls for increased natural gas production and use.
In addition, Sylva said that Nigeria is in a favourable position as the globe switches to cleaner energy sources.
Nigeria currently has an estimated 209 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas and a potential upside of 600 Tcf of gas, the most extensive in Africa, and in the top 10 globally.
“However, the majority of our gas deposits have yet to be produced due to a variety of factors including a lack of investment, a lack of transportation and export infrastructure, and technological challenges.”
Furthermore, the agreement, which is being funded by Africa-Exim Bank, is intended to increase export revenues and, with increased capacity, may lessen domestic demand shortages.
The project owner claims that the FEED contract is a step toward the final investment decision anticipated for next year.
As earlier said, this project is estimated to complete in 2026. However, I will keep updating this post to monitor the progress