Liquified Natural Gas is the world’s fastest-growing source of gas supply, which has opened new trade routes between major producing nations such as the U.S., Canada and the fast-growing economies of Asia.
The established economies of Japan, China, and South Korea dominate current demand. But emerging markets, including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, are also adopting LNG to improve access to gas supplies. LNG offers a lucrative export market for economies rich in natural gas.
Balancing Supply and Demand
An estimated 132 billion cubic meters of new LNG production capacity will be added globally in the next few years, causing a rebalancing of the market in which supply could exceed demand sometime in the early 2020s.
Preparing for Increased Demand and Fierce Competition During Periods of Oversupply
LNG owners and operators investing in new production facilities must consider the impact of short-term oversupply, even if the long-term trend is for exponential growth in demand.
To future-proof LNG production facilities in preparation for both scenarios, owners and operators must ensure their liquefaction trains are efficient, flexible, and reliable.
Consider an LNG plant case study where high ambient conditions and lower liquefaction efficiency has become an issue that is hurting productivity and increasing production costs. The ageing facility has been operating for more than a quarter of a century with several LNG trains reliant on older gas turbines, which are fast approaching the end of their useful life.
Throughout that time, problems with the helper motors have restricted these trains from achieving the full production levels for which they were designed. The ageing equipment requires frequent – and often costly – maintenance attention.
In what is predicted to become a fiercely competitive market, this producer will need a competitive edge. If it is to achieve this by replacing its ageing infrastructure, its new turbines will need to be able to:
- POINTS TO BE ADDRESSED
- Boost liquefaction efficiency and reliability
- Easily replace the older infrastructure, with minimal downtime and disruption to production
- Give enough production flexibility to quickly adapt to a changing market
- KEY POINTS TO THE SOLUTIONS
- Installing more versatile gas turbine compressor strings in new facilities increases efficiency and reliability of LNG production
- Adding two-shaft gas turbine compressor strings to existing facilities boosts flexibility, efficiency and reliability of LNG production
Efficient and Reliable Liquefaction Facilities Are Vital to Compete in a Crowded Market
Installing an H-100 Gas Turbine driven liquefaction compressor package, from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), would transform the plant’s operations.
The two-shaft, heavy-duty gas turbine produces approximately 10% more power than the original gas turbine/ helper motor package, while eliminating the complexity, added footprint and trip hazards associated with the helper motor drive systems. The H100 's higher efficiency and reliability will provide significant benefit for the producer while substantially reducing fuel costs.
As the H-100 is fitted with an onboard starter motor, it doesn’t need the substantial starter-helper motor associated with single-shaft gas turbines. This would resolve a major production obstacle that has hindered the plant for many years.
Removing the need for a separate starter lowers generating costs, demands less space, and means there is no need to hold spare-parts inventory.
With two-shaft industrial gas turbines in place, the producer would have “the best of both worlds”: gas turbine efficiency and flexibility on par with the largest aero-derivative engines; and the power density, high reliability, and low maintenance outlay typically associated with large industrial gas turbine engines.
Easy Installation Makes Replacing Old Infrastructure Simple, Keeping Downtime to a Minimum
New H-100 turbines can be up and running more quickly than traditional solutions. Their two-shaft construction is a flange-for-flange replacement for older turbines like those applied at plants in Asia, making it a perfect replacement for aging single-shaft turbines. The new equipment can be pre-staged prior to shut down to minimize installation time.
It is also an attractive option when installed as additional capacity to existing plants, as production can be ramped up or down more quickly than with older gas turbines and modern aero-derivative turbines.
Twin-shaft Turbines Allow Greater Flexibility, Which Will Be Key in the Competitive Lng Market of the next Few Years
The H-100 turbine and compressor package can run at a range of operating speeds, giving the plant flexibility to more easily respond to variations in demand and process conditions.
With a period of uncertain demand due in the coming few years, two-shaft technology gives producers a wider operating speed range than one-shaft machines. The H-100 allows operators to slow down production at times of low demand, whereas single-shaft machines are effectively either on or off, making them much less flexible.
Reliability Is the Key to Effectively Handling Stoppages and Upgrades
The ability to ramp up operations or calm things down quickly in response to changes in demand is important. But reliability is equally important, especially for owners and operators of older LNG production facilities seeking to upgrade existing facilities.
The H-100’s wide range of operating speeds means it can reliably handle production upsets, as production can be backed off rather than fully shut down to accommodate process variations. It is also less likely to trip or get bogged down than single-shaft gas turbines.