TEXAS-SIZED LNG CONFERENCE EXPLORES LNG TRENDS, ECONOMICS AND TECHNOLOGIES

The 17th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG 17), the largest global LNG event ever, took place in April at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. It consisted of four days of more than 50 topical sessions, panels, roundtable discussions, poster sessions and lectures.

About 5,000 delegates from 80 countries heard from over 300 speakers, including government ministers, analysts and executives from LNG suppliers. Hosted by the American Gas Association, the event explored issues such as U.S. gas exports, LNG for transportation and pricing.

Keynote speakers noted that the abundance of shale and tight gas is rapidly moving the U.S. from being a net LNG importer to an exporter. As a result, up to ten large LNG export facilities are being built or studied for completion within the next six years.

Several turbomachinery sessions were dedicated to LNG machinery development from OEM’s, such as Mitsubishi, Siemens, GE and Dresser Rand, and users, such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Woodside and Apache. Most discussion focused on the challenges of operating large compression machinery in mega facilities. Large LNG producers, such as Rasgas from The State of Qatar, shared machinery operating experience and technical challenges with the audience.

A number of papers focused on improved machinery strategies for future large and mid-sized plants. For example, Frame 7 and Frame 9 single-shaft gas turbines have been used for LNG production and refrigeration over the last ten years. However, there is now significant movement toward large variable- speed electric motor drives and even a resurgence of using mid-sized aeroderivatives in smaller LNG train configurations.

Another area of growing interest in the U.S. is the development of a network of small-scale production facilities to serve the anticipated need of LNG for trucking, barge transportation and rail locomotives. As these facilities produce about 10 to 100 times less than today’s LNG export plants, they pose different challenges. Both Dresser-Rand and GE showcased novel technologies for smallscale LNG production.

LNG 18 will be held in Perth, Australia in April 2016.