LNG plants on barges a solution for shale

Onshore natural gas stole the attention of offshore experts Monday morning at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

With so much cheap natural gas in the United States, some companies are looking for ways to siphon the resource out of pipelines and onto barges.

Those barges, speakers said, could be a cheap and versatile way to liquefy natural gas so that it can be easily shipped overseas.

The floating LNG barges would not be able to match the scale of large projects being proposed along the coastlines, but they would be cheaper and have the ability to move to different locations.

They could be located off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, or even Maryland, said Joe Verghese, an executive at WorleyParsons.

“They also provide benefits of a more rapid development,” said Javid Talib, floating LNG program manager for Black & Veatch, which says it is developing technology for the world’s first floating LNG liquefaction, regasification and storage unit.

Talib showed a chart showing that for one design configuration a floating LNG barge could cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars with a maximum capacity of around 2 million tons per year.

Barges along the U.S. coast could be stationed at docks and tap into gas pipelines. That would allow them to benefit from other companies that processed the gas before putting it into a pipeline system, Verghese said.

It would also help companies avoid any permitting complications or objections from residents who may not want an LNG plant built near them, he said.

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Read FuelFix coverage of the debate over exporting U.S. fuel: