GE: Driving LNG for Over 15 Years
Jun 03, 2015
Over the past 20 years, a considerable world trade in LNG has developed. Total global natural gas demand may have risen by approximately 2.7% since the year 2000 but global LNG demand has grown by 7.6% per year over the same period, indicating an almost threefold increase in demand for LNG.
LNG projects, however, face a number of challenges due to the complexity of the technology involved, high infrastructure costs and the strict regulatory frameworks around the environmental impact of extraction and processing.
Over the last fifteen years, GE has helped overcome these challenges, through creating technologies that help to reduce carbon emissions, lower overall project costs and increase the speed of transport of LNG as global demand increases. In recognition of this, here are some of the major milestones that have contributed to the birth and growth of LNG:
1825: The first industrial extraction of natural gas
In 1825, the first extraction of natural gas took place in New York, when a well was drilled and gas was piped through hollow logs to neighbouring houses.
1914: LNG was first patented
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was first patented by Godfrey Cabot over one hundred years ago. Shortly afterwards, in 1917, the first commercial production of LNG began in West Virginia.
2003: Propelling LNG forward cleanly
Fast forward to the new millennium and global demand has led to predictions that by 2035 natural gas will move into second place in the energy mix, ahead of coal. LNG is expected to account for 13% of global gas supply by 2020. In light of this, the need to transport LNG rapidly and in an energy efficient manner is critical. Many realised that electrification was key to this and in 2003 GE Power Conversion became the first company to deliver an electric propulsion motor system for the Gaz De France Energy – a full size LNG carrier which transports LNG from source to its final destination.
2004: Turbocompression technology making history in the Middle East
GE’s turbocompression technology is at the heart of one of the largest LNG plants in the world, the Qatargas II. As the refrigeration process is vital to developing LNG, GE’s gas turbines and compressors were applied to the LNG refrigeration service at the plant to reduce carbon emissions.
2005: Designing a fully redundant LCI system for Bonny Island, Nigeria
The Nigerian LNG project at Bonny Island provides dedicated gas transmission pipelines passing through over 110 communities. To increase production and efficiency, GE designed, manufactured and supervised the erection and commissioning of the complete life cycle inventory system, developing two GE-7 gas turbines with 10MW starter / helpers and six high speed synchronous motors, enabling the plant to produce 22mpta of LNG.
2009: Completing the electrical systems in Yemen
Yemen LNG is the country’s largest industrial investment. It has sufficient gas reserves to export 6.7m metric tonnes of LNG a year for the next 20 years. In 2009, GE developed two complete electrical systems for the plant, including a high speed induction motor, cooling systems and network transformer to ensure the efficiency, reliability and productivity of the project.
2011: Avenza industrial module construction yard opening
In 2011, GE opened its Avenza industrial module construction yard in Italy. The Avenza facility includes the technologies and capacity to test completely assembled modules of every size and configuration that GE builds. Five huge industrial modules for power generation were assembled at Avenza before being shipped to Barrow Island to power the Gorgon LNG project.
2012: Expanding use of LNG to meet China’s environmental priorities
By 2035, the IEA expects the demand for LNG in Asia to grow by as much as the current total production in the United States. As such, investment in LNG facilities in the region is increasing. GE’s compressor-drive technology is driving the HuaQi Ansai Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project in the city of Ansai, Shanxi Province. The HuaQi Ansai facility was inaugurated in August 2012 and is the country’s largest LNG project. It features the first application of GE’s 24-megawatt convertor in China and supplies an estimated 2 million cubic meters of LNG per day and 481,100 tons annually.
2012: Supporting FLNG in Malaysia
The rise in electrification has eased the process of Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) production due to the reduction in size of solutions required. And as this was realised, FLNG production became more prevalent as the ability to process LNG on site has been proven to cut time to market by 30 – 40%. Shell pioneered FLNG at the Prelude gas field off the coast of Australia, and in 2012 GE signed an agreement to supply its gas turbine-driven compressor train technology to Petronas’ first FLNG facility off the East Coat of Malaysia.
2013: Investing in the Massa test bed
GE is continually investing in the already world-class capabilities of its testing facility in Massa, Italy. The new bed is designed for thermodynamic and mechanical running tests on large centrifugal compressors for LNG and ethylene applications, helping to avoid the typically more expensive and longer cycle string test configurations used elsewhere.
2014: Supplying crucial technology for the Freeport eLNG facility
As global environmental and carbon emission standards became more and more stringent, the popularity of electrified LNG (when the liquefied natural gas supply chain is enabled through full electric motor driven compression technology in the processing, transport and distribution network) rose. As this electrification holds the key to turning LNG into a more attractive energy source by making it cleaner and more efficient, in 2008, the largest eLNG facility in the world opened its doors. As a crucial element of the project, in 2014 GE supplied the main refrigeration compressors, variable-speed drive electric motors and other electrical equipment for two customized LNG liquefaction trains, each of which produces 4.4 metric tonnes per year.
2014: Aiding the clean transport of LNG
In line with gas demands, the number of LNG carriers has grown from 52 in 1979 to 387 in 2013. The performance of these ships is critical to the efficient and speedy delivery of LNG worldwide. In 2014, the successful sea trial of two LNG carriers using GE’s power and propulsion systems was completed for Norwegian LNG transportation provider, Awilco LNG. GE’s systems were chosen for the trial due to their high reliability, the fact they are proven to be one of the cleanest technologies for sea-going vessels and low maintenance costs.
2014: Helping to meet Asia’s growing energy needs
Following the success of Petronas’ first FLNG facility off the cost of East Malaysia, and to keep pace with offshore growth, GE signed a contract to provide compressor train and mechanical drive equipment for Petronas’ second FLNG facility off the East Coat of Malaysia. Implementation at this facility is the first time GE’s LM600 gas turbines have been applied to an FLNG project.
Looking to the future
As demand for LNG continues to increase, technological innovations are crucial to maintain the competitiveness of the industry and maximise performance. GE is continuing to invest in the testing and development of new technologies to advance the efficiency of LNG systems for years to come.