As appeared in Volume 42 Issue 3/4 of Scandinavian Oil & Gas magazine. Reprinted with permission.
The demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel has rapidly increased, largely due to substantial price disparities between diesel fuel and low priced natural gas, increased penalties for flaring and the expanding global shale gas development.
Recognizing the need for a distributed LNG solution and the strong market opportunity, Dresser-Rand designed, constructed and commissioned its first distributed LNG solution – the LNGo™ natural gas liquefaction system.
Typical LNG processing facilities are large, permanent facilities that produce far more than 6,000 gallons a day. Most are located in coastal areas to produce LNG for export in vast quantities, while smaller LNG facilities are used for ‘gas peaking’ service (i.e., where natural gas is converted to LNG and stored during warmer weather when gas is cheaper and is later vaporized back into natural gas to meet demand when colder weather strikes or gas prices spike). Dresser-Rand seized the opportunity to develop something that met the needs of users who have specific requirements for fuel and don’t want to have to truck it long distances.
Distributed LNG production allows local markets to take advantage of local sources and natural gas, and reduced transportation costs, resulting in lower delivered LNG prices. Dresser-Rand’s LNGo system opens markets and demand that would likely not be cost-effectively served by distant LNG sources.
The LNGo Natural Gas Liquefaction System
Dresser-Rand’s LNGo system uses a combination of Dresser-Rand technologies, including its newly introduced MOS™ reciprocating compressor, its Guascor® gas engine and Enginuity® control system in a portable, small-footprint package that can be placed on well pads, gas flares and similar sites. The system allows for very small stand-alone plants that are portable and can be moved to support changing requirements and needs. The LNGo system is sized to produce approximately 6,000 gallons of LNG per day.
This point-of-use production plant is a standardized product made up of four packaged skids – a power module, compressor module, process module, and conditioning module.
The natural gas entering the system is converted to LNG product and is used as a process refrigerant, with a small portion being used to power the plant. The process is identified as a methane let-down cycle that uses a turbo-expander. It also uses an integrated ammonia chilling system that consists of an evaporative condenser and screw compressor that removes the heat of compression from the methane prior to expansion.
The development process for the first LNGo demonstration plant in Painted Post, New York began less than one year ago. In that short timeframe, Dresser-Rand designed, built and commissioned the entire plant. This development cycle time-to-market is amazingly short and will enable LNGo plants to be installed and operating in months rather than years. Dresser-Rand has existing inventory of LNGo systems ready for deployment today. Future units will have short cycle times (less than three months from order to operation) that will allow owners to see quick returns on their investment, as well as match the supply and demand of LNG as local markets develop.
The LNGo system is unique in that it can be used in upstream, midstream and downstream applications.
Upstream applications include, among others, the monetization of flared gas to increase revenues for oil companies and reduce their environmental impact, the production of stranded natural gas fields that are not close to existing pipeline infrastructures, on-site fuel supply for drilling and hydraulic fracturing equipment converted to run on LNG, and applications for coal bed methane for fueling mining vehicles.
Midstream applications include creating LNG in the wellhead of a pipeline so that it can then be transported by truck to locations that need it. There is also a possibility to liquefy natural gas and put it across the ocean water lay to deliver it to locations across bodies of water.
Downstream applications include the production of power generation and vehicle-grade LNG, allowing LNG to compete effectively with diesel fuel on a cost-per-energycontent (BTU) basis.
The demonstration plant reached a key milestone in December 2013 when it successfully produced LNG. This put Dresser-Rand in the enviable position of imminent market launch, with orders booked since then translating into shipments early this year.
The demonstration system has logged more than 500 operating hours and has responded well to testing in extreme conditions. The system has proven to be robust,reliable and able to withstand the conditions it has been tested in. Passing all safety audits and a hazard and operability analysis (HAZOP), the LNGo system is ready for commercialization.
Since the demonstration system’s successful production of LNG, market interest in the LNGo system has increased. With well over 90 qualified leads, D-R has started the production of 21 LNGo systems.
For systems being sold, Dresser-Rand will provide the liquefaction process and, depending upon the plant configuration, potentially also include the associated ancillary gas processing equipment, a power module and full turn-key installation and commissioning.
Dresser-Rand is evaluating several market strategies for leasing the LNGo systems, including looking at potential market channel partners.
Dresser-Rand can provide full turn-key installation and commissioning services as well as routine operations, monitoring and maintenance contracts to ensure ongoing reliability and availability for all systems either sold or leased.
LNGo plants will help clients monetize valuable natural gas from stranded wells and capture and capitalize on flared gas. Further, the short delivery time on LNGo plants and re-deployable feature offers flexibility and quick returns compared to large facilities that require significant capital investments and are permanently placed and not re-deployable.