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A feather in the LNG cap: new FSRU bolsters expertise in China and Indonesia

Thu 24 Jan 2019 by Selwyn Parker

A feather in the LNG cap: new FSRU bolsters expertise in China and Indonesia
Karunia Dewata is the first mini-FSRU to be built in PaxOcean’s Zhoushan shipyard

The PaxOcean-built floating storage and regasification unit Karunia Dewata elevated China’s shipbuilding expertise and Indonesia’s LNG supply chain knowledge when it was delivered in mid-November 2018

The 26,000 m3 capacity floating storage and regasification (FSRU) Karunia Dewata is the first mini-FSRU to be built in PaxOcean’s Zhoushan shipyard and is is the largest ship of its type to be built in China. For good measure, Karunia Dewata is also the first FSRU constructed in China to be fitted with type C cargo tanks.

Owned by Indonesia’s JSK group, Karunia Dewata will regasify around 50M standard cubic feet a day (scf/d), bringing energy to otherwise neglected regions in this vast country of nearly 270M people. Now specialising in LNG, Djakarta-headquartered JSK says it is focusing on long-term contracts with credible counterparties. It is understood that the FSRU is initially destined for an LNG terminal in Bali.

“The design is focused on simple and reliable operations in Indonesian waters,” said PaxOcean engineering director Lixin Bian at the launch. The vessel will be put to service in the small-scale supply of LNG within Indonesia’s network of archipelagos, with their often shallow depths.

Hungry for LNG

The country is hungry for energy of any form, but especially LNG. State-owned oil and gas company Pertamina only made its first LNG shipment to the east of the country in 2017 and has been busy forming alliances with independent suppliers to plug the LNG gap under a mandate from the government. Two liquefaction plants are under construction that will require the services of LNG carriers: Senkang LNG, with a contracted capacity of 0.5M tonnes a year (tpa) that is due to start production in early 2020; and Tangguh phase two (3.8M tpa) slated to start up in early 2020.

For relatively new LNG importing countries such as Indonesia, FSRUs are seen as a game-changer. As GTT, the France-based LNG tank and fuel specialist pointed out in its mid-2018 financial statement, this kind of vessel offers major competitive advantages over land-based terminals, citing speed of construction and mobility, affordability, adaptability in the event of volatile LNG prices, and the availability of a wide range of shipyards that have gained experience in the complexities of regasification.

“FSRUs offers major competitive advantages over land-based terminals, including speed of construction, mobility, affordability, and adaptability in the event of volatile LNG prices”

As the year closed, there were more than 30 of these floating terminals in service or under construction around the world. In Indonesia, there are two sizeable existing FSRUs, with three more planned or possible, and no less than nine small-scale versions under discussion, according to GasLog, the LNG carrier specialist.

Owned by parent company, Singapore-based holding company Kuok group, the Zhoushan shipyard served its apprenticeship before tackling the FSRU project. As well as undertaking a variety of work for the offshore support industry, such as rig building and refurbishment and the conversion of floating platform and storage vessels, PaxOcean’s six shipyards have built up a reputation for handling one-off projects. For instance, the group is in the middle of building a 61 m gold carrier for Australia’s Newcrest Mining. Technically known as a self-propelled split hopper barge, the vessel will be deployed in early 2019 to a remote group of islands 900 km north-east of Port Moresby, New Guinea.

PaxOcean is also a specialist in repair work. Since 2009, the company says it has repaired over 1,600 vessels, including LPG and chemical/product tankers, dredgers, ro-ro and car carriers and a mix of tugs and offshore support vessels. But before Karunia Dewata the nearest PaxOcean came to an FSRU was the design of LNG vessels and platforms, picking up classification approvals along the way.

As easily PaxOcean’s biggest gas-carrying vessel to date, the group pulled out all the stops for Karunia Dewata. Although PaxOcean has a shipyard in Batam, Indonesia, the Zhoushan facility was selected for this milestone project because of its all-round skills. The shipyard started work in early 2017 for the then unnamed client. Originally, the commission was for a simple floating storage unit (FSU), but JSK reserved the right to include a regasification function; it was only during the course of construction that JSK opted for a full FSRU.

Karunia Dewata will regasify around 50M standard cubic feet a day, bringing energy to otherwise neglected regions in this vast country”

The non-propelled vessel was designed for the installation of four independent type C tanks, each with a capacity of 6,500 m3 and a minimum operating temperature of minus 163C. The choice of type C technology was not a difficult one; with the capacity of some LNG tanks running up to several thousands of cubic metres, type C tanks have become the preferred option in large ships, including container ships, ferries and bulkers. But smaller vessels, such as tugs, ferries and platform supply vessels have recently started adopting lower-volume tanks with a capacity of several hundreds of cubic metres.

Although PaxOcean did not confirm that Karunia Dewata is fitted with GTT-manufactured tanks, the company dominates type C technologies. At mid-2018, GTT had booked orders for nine FSRUs that will eventually require up to 40 units.

LR support

Lloyd’s Register (LR) played an important role in the construction of Karunia Dewata. Built to the society’s rules for LNG ships and regasification barges, LR made available its experts in four countries – Singapore, Korea, Indonesia and China – to help ensure the success of the project in a shipyard unfamiliar with the complexities of FSRUs. “[We worked] closely with LR on classification requirements,” said PaxOcean engineering director Lixin Bian.

LR’s main contribution was its long-term knowledge of the gas supply chain and the manufacturers that have developed robust technology over a period of years. The society itself has provided technical services in large gas projects, maritime and otherwise, for more than half a century and, as the vessel took shape, LR worked with a small army of equipment manufacturers whose products had stood the test of time in previous projects.

“As this was the first gas project in PaxOcean’s Zhoushan shipyard, LR put together the best team for the project with the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience,” said the society’s managing for the east China area, G.Z.Wang. Korea Register also contributed to the project, according to PaxOcean, but the society has not issued any statement on its role.

With its first FSRU now under its belt, PaxOcean is ready to take on other LNG floating platforms. “We are proud to construct a 26,000 m3 project [that was] based mainly on our own design,” said the chief executive of PaxOcean Holdings, Tan Thai Yong. Building on its new-found expertise, PaxOcean is planning to expand into a variety of floating LNG platforms and ships, including bunker ships, FLNGs, power plants, regasification ships and carriers.

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