GE O&G '17: LNG experts discuss solutions to cut emissions, expand production

By Adrienne Blume, Editor, Gas Processing and Executive Editor, Hydrocarbon Processing

An early-afternoon panel session on LNG technology was moderated by Pablo Avogadri, Turbomachinery Solutions CMO for GE Oil & Gas.

Photo by Adrienne Blume.
Photo by Adrienne Blume.

Panelists included Tracy Lothian, Vice President of LNG Market Development for ExxonMobil; Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdullah Al-Thani, COO of QatarGas; Daniel Kempf, Aeroderivatives Gas Turbines Director for GE Oil & Gas; Nicola Marcucci, Executive Gas Turbine and Compressor Product Leader for GE Oil & Gas; James Solomon, LNG Director for Air Products; and Geoffrey Byfield, Technology Development Manager of LNG for Woodside Energy (Fig. 1, moderator with panelists shown left to right).

The next generation of LNG exports. Mr. Avogadri opened the panel session by noting that, in the next decade, up to 180 MMtpy of LNG export capacity are scheduled to take final investment decision.

Ms. Lothian spoke about how ExxonMobil is focused on collaboration to understand the LNG-to-power value chain, especially for new customers. Much demand potential still exists, and this will help new customers come online and new regasification projects start up, Ms. Lothian said.

However, "creativity is needed to make certain markets work," the VP noted. She pointed to challenges in financing gas-to-power projects in Africa and to integrating new and evolving uses for LNG, such as LNG for marine use and small-scale LNG for diesel displacement.

QatarGas optimizes turbine operation. Sh. Al-Thani then spoke about responding to new challenges. QatarGas is on the forefront of natural gas production, liquefaction and exports, with LNG production of 42 MMtpy from seven trains. One solution QatarGas is using to combat emissions and improve the environmental performance of its LNG operations is to increase the capacity of its gas turbines through fuel gas optimization.

QatarGas operates 36 gas turbines, ranging from Frame 5 and Frame 6 to Frame 9. When the Qatari government decided to limit NOx emissions to 61 ppm, the company was forced to modify its gas turbines, which had emissions levels of 90 ppm of NOx.

The emissions reductions were achieved in two steps: (1) All standard combustion liners were replaced with lean heat end liners, and (2) nitrogen-rich gas was qualified by a combustion dynamic test on Train 1.

The test results indicated that the modifications reduced emissions by 10%, even less than the level required by the government. The company plans to implement the modifications across all of the turbines in its LNG operations.

New turbine designs for high efficiency, smaller footprint. Mr. Kempf then spoke about new gas turbine technologies from GE, including the LM9000, which was revealed the night prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. The aeroderivative turbine, which was also discussed by GE Oil & Gas President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli during the morning's plenary session, is a dual-fuel compressor that features lower fuel costs, smaller footprint, fewer CO2 emissions, high-efficiency power and speeds over a wide range of ambient conditions.

Mr. Marcucci offered information on GE's evolving technology platform for compressors. GE's high-pressure ratio compressor (HPRC) has up to a 50% smaller train footprint, among other features.

Expanding LNG options. The discussion then turned to evolving LNG technologies and uses. Mr. Solomon spoke about the widening range of applications for LNG, including floating production terminals, small-scale LNG plants and niche markets for LNG use. Air Products is looking forward to working with GE to implement new drivers into upcoming LNG applications, he said.

Woodside's Mr. Byfield discussed how his company was the first to operate gas turbine-driven LNG projects. Woodside looks forward to working with GE to incorporate new drivers and compressor designs into future projects. Collaboration plans include the use of new technologies to keep costs down, Mr. Byfield noted.

Stay tuned for more coverage. More coverage of key speaker presentations from the GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting is forthcoming. Keep an eye on this space for updates!

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