World's first floating liquefaction vessel conversion to be boost for Singapore

Keppel Offshore and Marine is undertaking the world's first floating liquefaction vessel conversion, which is on track for completion next month.
Keppel Offshore and Marine is undertaking the world's first floating liquefaction vessel conversion, which is on track for completion next month.PHOTO: KEPPEL

Keppel Offshore and Marine's (Keppel O&M's) completion of the world's first floating liquefaction vessel (FLNGV) is set to bring Singapore a step closer to achieving its ambitions as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub.

The US$735 million (S$1 billion) conversion project - named Hilli Episeyo at a ceremony in Keppel Shipyard yesterday - will help place Singapore at the forefront of developing solutions that can meet the growing demand for natural gas, amid a global push for cleaner energy.

Keppel O&M chief executive Chris Ong told The Straits Times: "This first-of-its-kind converted FLNGV is an economical solution for gas companies to access marginal and stranded gas fields that would otherwise have been cost-prohibitive." He added that Asia has a number of such fields where FLNGVs could be used.

Keppel O&M's wholly owned unit, Keppel Shipyard, carried out the conversion work on the vessel, which is owned by Golar Hilli Corporation (Golar), a subsidiary of LNG shipping company Golar LNG.

It is undergoing commissioning and testing, and is expected to be delivered next month.

Mr Ong noted that the demand for gas continues to be on the rise, and that Keppel O&M has the skills, technology and capabilities to capture a fair share of the opportunities along the gas value chain.

He cited numbers from energy research and consulting firm Douglas-Westwood, which show that capital expenditure on FLNGV units will total US$41.4 billion from last year to 2022, with liquefaction units accounting for 60 per cent of total expenditure, or US$25 billion.

"Compared with new-builds in the market, a converted FLNGV solution is not only significantly more cost-effective but also much faster to market, without compromising safety and operating capabilities," said Mr Ong. "After this project, we are well placed to replicate similar projects and provide end-to-end solutions to meet the growing needs of the LNG industry."

Hilli Episeyo was converted from a 1975-built Moss LNG carrier with a storage capacity of 125,000 cubic m. It is designed for a liquefaction capacity of about 2.4 million tonnes of LNG a year. When completed, the vessel will be put to work off the coast of Kribi, Cameroon, for Societe Nationale des Hydrocarbures and Perenco Cameroon, and will be the first project of its kind in Africa.

Keppel O&M, which also carried out conversion work on the world's first floating storage regasification units, has continued to ramp up its capabilities in LNG technology.

Besides the Hilli Episeyo, it is building two dual-fuel diesel LNG harbour tugs and two dual-fuel LNG carriers. Keppel O&M has also, through its gas technology development arm, developed solutions to address the growing needs of the LNG industry, including FLNGVs that can work in combination with floating storage units to provide cost-effective solutions for gas export terminals and are faster to market compared with land-based terminals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'World's first floating liquefaction vessel to be boost for S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe