Tight oil supplies, escalating oil prices, and towering energy demands have
led to the revival of natural gas. It is now deemed to be the potential fuel of
the near future. The trend now is toward supplying every cubic foot of inland
and offshore natural gas to energy-hungry consumers. Liquefied natural gas
(LNG) is recognized as the best form of gas transfer from remote inland and
offshore fields to consumers around the world.
The natural gas is liquefied and shipped to distant receiving terminals. The
main technical features of a conventional terminal facility include LNG carrier
mooring systems, unloading facilities, cryogenic LNG storage tanks, LNG
regasification systems, and gas send-out systems. The United States has five
such conventional terminals and is the world’s largest gas market, with gas
demands expected to double by 2020. This demand is leading to the expansion and
refurbishment of these conventional LNG receiving terminals, with the
construction of several more in various phases of planning and development. In
2005, the US Department of Energy (DOE), along with 30 energy industry players,
successfully completed a research study on the concept of an offshore facility
to moor LNG carriers and unload and store LNG. This concept includes storing
gas in salt caverns. This technology is claimed to be highly cost-effective and
process-efficient, with better delivery capacity and security than other
options. This idea is being implemented through the construction of such a
modern LNG receiving terminal in offshore Louisiana.
Apart from the United States, LNG also offers great promise to such
countries as Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, and France.
These countries are also contemplating LNG facilities development and
This paper aims to present a qualitative comparison between conventional and
futuristic salt-cavern-based LNG receiving terminals. The comparison is based
on the use of technology for these terminals. This approach will be ultimately
useful in understanding the technology implementation required for the
development and modernization of LNG receiving facilities in such
Gas demand in the United States is steadily outpacing domestic natural gas
production. For importing natural gas from gas exporting countries by
long-distance marine transport, transporting gas from distant offshore
production facilities to the mainland, and developing isolated offshore gas
reserves, LNG is widely recognized as the best form of natural-gas transport.
LNG is obtained when natural gas is cooled to –160°C at atmospheric pressure.
With this type of treatment, the natural gas is reduced to 1/600th of its
Fig. 1 shows the recent history and near-future forecasted trends of
natural gas consumption in the United States.
Bringing the natural gas from the reservoir to the consumer market by
transporting the gas over long marine distances gives rise to the well-known
LNG value chain. Fig. 2 shows the LNG value chain.
The principal subject of discussion in this paper is the LNG receiving
terminal. A conventional LNG receiving terminal is an LNG receiving, storing,
regasifying, and gas distributing facility traditionally located near
The United States has five such facilities in operation, with more than a
dozen approved by the regulatory authorities like the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission and the Maritime Administration/Coast Guard as of October 2006. One
of the five facilities currently operating is located offshore.
© 2007. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- Original manuscript received:
29 January 2007
- Revised manuscript received:
4 April 2007
- Manuscript approved:
10 April 2007
- Version of record:
20 September 2007