The need for more LNG export capacity, driven both by Europe’s push to wean itself off Russian gas and long-term Asian demand growth, is resulting in a new wave of development. Two major U.S. projects have reached a positive final investment decision (FID) in the past six months and more are likely to do so soon, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. But conventional export terminals take time to build, leading at least some, like New Fortress Energy, to explore the potential for floating LNG (FLNG) facilities — basically, an LNG export terminal located on the topside of a large tanker — which can bring new capacity online faster, much like the floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) that are now boosting European import capacity. In today’s RBN blog, we take a look at FLNGs, what’s already out there, and what could be coming to North America in the next few years.
An FLNG terminal has everything that a conventional terminal has, from feedgas intake to liquefaction equipment to storage, housed right on the vessel. To date, FLNGs have only been used with offshore production as a feedgas source, docking near the gas source and tying into new or existing subsea infrastructure. In many ways, the current interest in floating export terminals — including FLNGs docked at onshore locations, not out at sea — would seem to be a natural extension of the interest in FSRUs (see Float On for a review of FSRUs). So far, though, there are just five FLNGs in operation (again, all of them at offshore production sites), compared to about 50 FSRUs currently in operation and more coming.
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