FOCUS ASIA - Securing The Future Of LNG

As the worldwide liquefied natural gas (LNG) market continues to expand and the technology becomes more popular among major oil and gas industry players, companies are attempting to take advantage of this budding sector by having a hand in the creation of new projects.

One of the main focuses at the moment is assessing the feasibility of small-mid scale LNG projects and one company making waves in the sector is Singapore LNG Corporation (SLNG).

The organisation recently awarded a contract to Samsung C&T Corporation for the engineering, procurement and construction of an LNG storage tank at its terminal.

It will be the third such facility to be built at the site and will be 188,000 cubic metres in volume, helping to increase the terminal's overall storage capacity to six million tonnes of throughout per annum.

The total LNG storage capacity at the terminal will subsequently increase to 540,000 cubic metres, which SLNG says will give it greater flexibility to meet future gas needs.

Neil McGregor, chief executive of SLNG, said the third tank will help the firm to capitalise on any new business opportunities and therefore allow LNG traders to store and re-export LNG cargoes.

"We had contemplated the need for a third tank at the time of the award of the initial EPC contract for the LNG terminal," he commented.

"Hence, we included an option in the initial EPC contract awarded to Samsung in February 2010 to build a third tank. SLNG is now exercising that option - a third tank will provide additional LNG storage capacity to meet the needs of a growing LNG market in the region and as domestic demand increases in the coming years."

At the forefront of many industry leaders' minds is analysing project costs and viability, as well as exploring current global case studies, and this may act as one such project, according to Mr McGregor.

With new advancements in small-mid scale carrier technology emerging almost every month, it is clear that there is room for expansion in the industry - something he is very aware of.

"The third tank is in line with our strategy to become a gateway for LNG in Asia. It positions SLNG with increased capability and standing in the evolving LNG market, to allow us to grow our business and to eventually become the natural gas hub for the region," he explained.

Construction of the whole terminal is currently ahead of schedule, with 25 per cent of it completed so far, and the third tank is expected to be finished by the start of 2014, following commissioning of the initial terminal facilities.

Paul Shin, vice president and head of south-east Asia headquarters of Samsung, said the company was "very pleased" to be awarded the third tank.

According to the expert, the key to construction will be safety and quality – two aspects being taken very seriously in the sector and essential to the success of LNG containers.

As new ways of constructing LNG containers are adopted and the case for small-mid scale LNG is debated, Mr Shin said that expertise will help to drive success in the months and years ahead.

"With the knowledge of the detailed requirements gained from the earlier project phase, coupled with providing adequate and efficient EPC services, we have the key ingredients to ensure the success of this project," he explained.

His confidence suggests that the company has every intention of becominga major player in the market and helping to drive the expansion of the LNG market.