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Hoegh's floating LNG ambitions become reality

Hoegh's floating LNG ambitions become reality

Seoul: The naming of the LNG shuttle regasification vessel (SRV), GDF Suez Neptune, at Samsung Heavy Industries yesterday not only brings Hoegh's floating LNG ambitions to fruition but also marks an important watershed for future world gas development.

The $330m GDF Suez Neptune is the first of two 145,000 cubic metre sister vessels to be deployed on the Neptune Project, a "deepwater port", some 22 miles northeast of Boston in Massachusetts Bay, US. The two vessels will transport LNG in liquefied form to the offshore terminal, regasify it using plant on board, before sending it ashore by pipeline. It will then be distributed to consumers in Massachusetts and New England via the regional gas grid.

The naming ceremony is symbolic for the Norwegian shipping firm, which has invested substantial resources in developing floating LNG concepts. Today, the company has floating projects planned or under development off the coasts of Florida US, Italy and in Morecombe Bay, UK.

Energy experts believe that commissioning of the new vessels will facilitate the development of many gas  reserves currently lying in small, remote or oil-associated deposits - previously not viable - known as "stranded" gas. Floating technology, they say, will open up hundreds of new gas sources. It will also allow the development of offshore LNG terminals in regions like Florida, where shore-based projects have hit the wall as planning permission have been turned down.

Sources are predicting that hundreds of new floating LNG facilities, of various types, will be required in the near future. Only last month, oil major Shell announced plans to develop the Prelude and Concerto gas  fields, off the Australian coast, using floating technology.  [20/11/09]