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Marine Log

December 6, 2007

ABS says stranded gas solutions are near commercialization

Although natural gas is abundant, more than one-third of global reserves are said to be "stranded" by their location of field size without viable access to world markets. Estimates place these stranded gas reserves at more than 3,000 trillion cubic feet.

Classification society ABS reports a resurgence of interest in floating solutions for the transportation of natural gas aimed at capturing "stranded" gas reserves around the world.

Speaking at the CWC Eighth Annual World LNG Summit in Rome today, ABS Europe President and Chief Operating Officer William J. Sember said the repertoire of proposed gas transport systems designed to monetize these stranded reserves continues to expand.

"ABS has now provided its 'approval in principal' (AIP) to numerous emerging proprietary technologies or transport designs that are intended to economically develop these remote gas fields," Sember said. "The increasingly competitive cost and the operational benefits of these gas concepts are what developers hope will lead to sustained growth in this niche market."

Sember says his organization is seeing renewed interest in both compressed natural gas (CNG) carriers and floating LNG concepts, concepts. Although CNG has been proposed as an effective method of transporting stranded gas for some years, the first project has yet to be finalized. Now, though, nearly a dozen CNG projects are on the verge of commercialization in various parts of the world.

"ABS has granted approval in principle to all the leading technical concepts that have been developed for this sector, including variants such as compressed liquid natural gas," Sember said. "It is only a matter of time before the first major contract is finalized."

Floating LNG terminals are also in the works with ABS recently giving an AIP to a concept proposed by Japan's INPEX for a large scale gas field in the Timor Sea, offshore Indonesia, for the Abadi Gas Field. Another concept, also reviewed by ABS, has been developed by SBM Offshore which has joined with German-based gas processor Linde to develop a LNG FPSO. Also involved in the project is the IHI shipyard of Japan that has the proprietary rights to the self-supporting, prismatic Type B gas containment design. SBM/Linde plans to commence production of gas from the first unit in 2012.

"With interest continuing at such high levels, designs and proprietary processing technologies are now on the eve of being commercialized," said Sember. "From a class society perspective we are being contacted early on in the conceptual phases of many of these projects to verify for the developers that the concept is technically sound and will be unlikely to run into any serious regulatory hurdles," he added.