New Rules shape future of offshore gas production

5 June 2013

Lloyd’s Register releases new Rules for Floating Offshore Installations at a Fixed Location (FOIFL) which includes new sections on floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facilities.

Lloyd’s Register uses its technical knowledge and experience to publish a comprehensive Rule set to guide the design, construction and operation of floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facilities – the biggest, most complex floating structures ever seen – meaning natural gas will now be safer, cheaper and have a lower environmental footprint.

Launched today, Lloyd’s Register’s Offshore Rules for FLNG vessels and facilities are based on a real-world projects and extensive work with key industry alliances.

The Offshore Rules for FLNG reinforce Lloyd’s Register’s position at the forefront of new maritime and energy technology, building upon the work the company has performed with numerous LNG firsts, such as classing the first LNG fuelled tanker, Argonon.

“Natural gas is a key part of the energy mix’ and its safe and economic production is becoming increasingly more important,” says Mark Tipping, Principal Engineer for FLNG Development in Lloyd’s Register. “FLNG facilities are being designed to extract gas reserves which have been discovered in some of the world’s deepest waters, answering society’s demand for the provision of more ‘carbon-lite’ energy sources. The FLNG facilities we have worked on to form these Rules will be the biggest floating structures ever seen and in the future, they will allow operators to unlock the world’s stranded offshore natural gas reserves in areas like North Western Australia’s Browse Basin.”

With natural gas prices set to vary greatly between countries in the near future, FLNG is needed to supplement pipelines in the transportation of this low-carbon fuel. Equally, the energy industry requires more effective storage solutions as demand fluctuates. Flexibility is also a rising concern. Industry experts point to FLNG as a solution that can offer easy transportation, storage and flexible supply of natural gas in an increasingly uncertain energy landscape.

Lloyd’s Register’s unprecedented 50-year offshore experience, including its technical knowledge of LNG containment and liquefaction technology, FPSO development and process engineering systems, has made it possible for this certification and classification society to publish the first set of Rules to comprehensively look at all areas of FLNG facilities.

“We continually update our Offshore Rules in collaboration with our panel of industry partners to ensure that they are relevant to the technological advancement being made on the FLNG arena. The FLNG Rules are being developed in three stages which will allow us to consult with industry experts both internally and externally. We are delighted to release the first phase of the Offshore Rules which were developed in conjunction with our Offshore Technical Committee in April.”

According to the International Energy Authority, the world’s primary energy demand will increase by 37% between to 2035 with the natural gas share overtaking coal before 2035 and starting to reach parity with oil soon after 2040. Gas reserves currently remain abundant yet they are technologically complex to both extract and transport. Liquefied natural gas takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas yet until now, formal FLNG design codes have remained underdeveloped and this has presented challenges to develop production engineering systems.

“Ultimately, the Lloyd’s Register FLNG Rules provide a robust and efficient framework in which all other specialist codes and standards can be used. This will be hugely beneficial, for the energy industry and for our wider societies,” concludes Tipping.

The Offshore Rules are freely available to download from www.lr.org/offshorerules

Floating offshore assets are covered by two Rule-sets:

* FOIFL (Floating Offshore Installations at a Fixed Location) Rules: FPSO and FLNG assets which stay on station

* MOU (Mobile Offshore Units) Rules: those units that carry out international voyages in compliance with IACS regulations such as drill ships, self-elevating rigs, accommodation barges and wind turbine installation vessels.

The Rules never stand still and are continuously amended to improve usability, reflect industry best practice, new novel designs and legislative changes. The Technical Committee, which is attended by a large number of industry stakeholders, underpins the legality of our Rules demonstrating to the world that they reflect:

• best practice of the industry
• extensive research and development
• feedback from service experiences.

The offshore sector is essential to Lloyd’s Register’s growth ambitions and there is an increased capability focus on Perth, Busan, Shanghai as well in the offshore hub of Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore, Lloyd’s Register has opened its second Global Technology Centre (the other is in Southampton, UK) that is partnering with major universities and industry partners, in Singapore and internationally, to focus on research and development projects in the offshore and drilling sectors, to help the global upstream industry operate with confidence and tackle the ever-growing technical, regulatory, commercial and environmental demands.

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