Höegh LNG’s 170,000-m3 Höegh Esperanza has started the commissioning process for operation as a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) at CNOOC’s Tianjin LNG receiving terminal in northern China.
Höegh Esperanza, Höegh’s eighth FSRU, was completed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in April 2018. CNOOC Gas & Power Trading and Marketing has taken the vessel on a 3+1-year charter, commencing on 5 June 2018, as both a regas unit and a conventional LNG carrier in international trading.
CNOOC intends to utilise the ship as an FSRU at Tianjin during the winter months, when China’s seasonal demand for gas imports is at its greatest, and as a conventional LNGC for the rest of the year. In this way the ship will help offset seasonal variations in China’s rapidly rising gas demand.
Under the terms of the mid-term charter, Höegh Esperanza is guaranteed a minimum amount of utilisation in the FSRU mode each year. The charter rate structure is variable, corresponding to the mode of operation.
The FSRU has both open and closed-loop regasification capabilities, and is able to process up to 6 mta of LNG. Höegh Esperanza has a GTT Mark III membrane cargo containment system and a dual-fuel diesel-electric propulsion system.
When Höegh Esperanza comes off charter with CNOOC in 2021 or 2022, Höegh LNG aims to have lined up new, long-term employment for the vessel as an FSRU. One option is utilisation as an LNG import terminal in Chile on behalf of Penco, the project for which the ship was originally intended.
Obstacles encountered in the regulatory permitting process caused the Penco scheme to be delayed, but there is a chance that such problems will have been overcome by then. Although Höegh let the original agreements surrounding the proposed 20-year charter deal with Penco lapse, Höegh Esperanza could possibly be used as an FSRU in a rejuvenated Penco project.
Tianjin is one of nine Chinese LNG import terminals operated by CNOOC. The energy company’s coastal LNG terminal portfolio also includes a small-scale distribution facility at Fangchenggang near the Vietnamese border.
CNOOC has embarked on its Tianjin Phase 2 expansion project, the centrepiece of which will be six new storage tanks, each of 220,000 m3. The construction work will also entail the provision of 12 gasification units, 12 high-pressure pumps, three low-temperature compressors and ancillary facilities. Phase 2 is scheduled for a 2022 completion.
The Tianjin terminal processed 2.08M tonnes in 2017, an increase of 215% compared to the year before. Throughput this year is expected to reach 3.2M tonnes. When Phase 2 is in operation and the FSRU has departed, the Tianjin LNG terminal will have the capacity to handle 7.25 mta.