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FSRU projects race to meet Australia's domestic gas demand

Mon 07 Jan 2019 by Ed Martin

FSRU projects race to meet Australia's domestic gas demand
AGL has identified Höegh Giant as an FSRU candidate for the Crib Point project (credit: Höegh LNG)

Import terminal projects are vying to quench the thirst for LNG on the east coast of Australia

As one of the world’s largest exporters of gas, Australia might seem an odd location to place a growing number of LNG import terminals, but rising gas demand is placing a premium on such projects.

“A combination of volatile gas demand, declining mature gas fields and LNG exports will lead to impending gas shortages on the east coast of Australia,” explained Wood Mackenzie’s director of Asian Gas & LNG Research Nicholas Browne.

Consequently, several interesting import terminal projects are now being mooted for construction on the country’s East Coast.

A new floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU)-based import terminal is to be developed in the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, by Seoul-based EPIK, an FSRU project development company. It announced on December 4 it had signed a Project Development Option Agreement with the Port to commence preliminary work on a proposed import terminal.

The project has a potential investment of between US$400M-US$430M, including a 170,000 m3 newbuild FSRU and associated on-shore infrastructure. The order for the FSRU is expected to be placed by EPIK, subject to receiving regulatory approvals for the project.

"A combination of volatile gas demand, declining mature gas fields and LNG exports will lead to impending gas shortages on the east coast of Australia"

EPIK’s founder and managing director Jee Yoon said: “Based on our assessment of the New South Wales gas market, particularly along coastal demand regions such as Newcastle and Sydney, we are confident that by importing LNG via a new, low-cost FSRU terminal, we will be able to provide an infrastructure solution that is capable of delivering a cost-efficient source of alternative gas supplies to the region on a long-term basis.”

“We are very excited to be working with Port of Newcastle and hope to expand our relationship by discussing other potential projects, such as a gas-fired power plant and an LNG bunkering facility,” he added.

The Port of Newcastle’s executive manager of customer and strategic development, Ian Doherty, noted that the deepwater port’s significant land and channel capacity make it an attractive location for the project; he added that the development opportunity is consistent with the port’s diversification plans.

Elsewhere on the East Coast, AGL announced on 21 December the signing of a contract with Höegh LNG for long-term charter of an FSRU for the proposed Gas Import Jetty project at Crib Point, Victoria.

The likely vessel, Höegh Giant, was constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in 2017. The 294 m-long FSRU uses a Mark III membrane containment system and has a cargo capacity of 170,032 m3 and a regasification capacity of 750 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d).

A final investment decision and regulatory approvals are required before the agreement is confirmed and the vessel’s impact will be assessed as part of the project’s Environmental Effects Statement, which is currently under way.

Describing the contract as an important milestone, AGL’s general manager for energy supply and origination Phaedra Deckart said: “This is a big step for the project and we are pleased to enter into this agreement with Höegh LNG, an industry leader in the operation of modern, floating LNG import terminals.

 “These FRSUs are highly sophisticated in nature, with a range of monitoring functions and protections in place for safe and reliable operations, making them ideal for the project.

Australian Industrial Energy (AIE), a consortium comprising Squadron Energy, Marubeni Corporation and JERA, has also thrown its hat into the ring with its proposed Port Kembla terminal near Wollongong in New South Wales.

The project has a forecast capital cost of AUD$200M-AUD$250M and AIE is aiming to have first gas available on the market by early 2020.

Planning for the project appears to be progressing well through the NSW government’s assessment process and AIE lodged an Environmental Impact Statement in November 2018.

In August 2018 AIE also contracted Höegh LNG to supply an FSRU for the project and in September the project director carried out an inspection of a candidate vessel, Höegh Galleon, which is nearing completion at Samsung’s Busan, South Korea, shipyard. The 297.5 m vessel uses the Mark III membrane containment system and has a storage capacity of 170,000 m3 and a regasification capacity of 750 mmscf/d. It is scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2019.

The chosen vessel will be moored at Berth 101 in Port Kembla’s inner harbour. AOE estimates that the project will have an initial capacity to meet more than 75% of New South Wales’ annual gas needs.

AIE’s chief executive James Baulderstone said: “Höegh LNG is uniquely positioned to provide NSW with this critical piece of energy infrastructure.

“They have the world’s most modern and technologically advanced fleet and a strong commitment to operational excellence.

“These were crucial determinants in AIE’s final selection decision.”

He added: “AIE’s NSW gas import facilities will be nothing short of best-in-class. We have Höegh LNG’s global leadership in the supply and operation of FSRU technology, combined with the world’s largest LNG buyer, JERA, which also has decades of LNG import terminal operating experience.”

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