Analysis: Potential Exists for Small Scale LNG Production in Southeast Asia

Investments in infrastructure for small scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) power production might be justified when the total demand for electric power exceeds 500 MW within a 120,000 square kilometers island region with no pipeline connection, according to a joint industry project (JIP) on the future small scale LNG value-chain in Southeast Asia.

Classification society Det Norske Veritas (DNV) reported that the study, which examined two areas of future LNG use in Southeast Asia, also identified noteworthy potential for LNG as a fuel for ships in regional trade, and predicts a future market for LNG bunkering in Singapore.

"Substantial market opportunities will evolve throughout the small scale LNG value-chain in Southeast Asia in the next decade," said managing director Bjorn Tore Markussen of DNV's Clean Technology Centre in Singapore, who has also headed up the JIP. "The companies who seize the opportunities early in these evolving markets will be well positioned for interesting growth if entry risks are managed properly."

The study identified multiple island regions in Southeast Asia outside any pipeline grid where total demand for electrical power exceeds 500 MW. Based on a number of underlying parameters and assumptions, various financially feasible scenarios were modeled. For example, Eastern Indonesia might have a demand for up to 70 small scale 50 MW power plants by 2020. Equally, Southern Philippines could require up to 45 plants, while the estimated demand for Northern Vietnam might be seven small power plants.

The distribution of LNG to these power plants would require close to 60 small scale LNG carriers by 2020 if this number of plants is built. As the price of crude oil is rising faster than the price of natural gas, the financial incentives for using LNG for power generation are equally increasing with considerable environmental benefits to be gained from such a fuel switch.

Shipping is a vital part of the future LNG supply chains in Southeast Asia, DNV noted. The study forecasts that container feeders might be the first ship segment to adopt LNG for propulsion regionally. About 20 % of the regional container feeders are up for renewal by 2020. Local and regional ferries are also well suited to use LNG for propulsion in the longer term.

Singapore is identified as the regionally preferred site for future LNG bunkering, due to large shipping volumes, calm seas for bunkering operations and the fact that infrastructure for LNG bunkering is already under construction. With stricter requirements for environmental performance, and an increasingly competitive expected price for LNG as fuel for ships, a shift to LNG propulsion may have an exciting impact on Singapore as a bunkering hub.

Lam Yi Young, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), said, "With the push towards cleaner fuel for ships, the results of this Joint Industry Project are timely in evaluating the potential for LNG bunkering services in Singapore. LNG's lower carbon dioxide emissions, minimal sulfur and nitrogen content as well as the abundant availability, allows it to be a viable alternative fuel source for ships, which is also in line with MPA's commitment to promoting environmentally-friendly shipping."

"The consortium is eager to use the findings from the LNG study to build business for the participants and to inform regional stakeholders about the opportunities that lie ahead," said Markussen, "DNV as a company has already decided to invest into a next phase of the JIP. We are now inviting old and new members to join the consortium and one or more of the many project streams that will be kicked off in April and May."

The JIP, which was initiated by DNV during Singapore Maritime Week in 2010, included a consortium of 16 participants from all parts of the LNG value chain, including Gazprom, Rolls-Royce, Wartsila, Hanjin Shipping, I.M. Skaugen, Keppel, The Linde Group, Trans LNG, DNV, BW group, BBG, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, and the two Singapore universities NUS and NTU. The JIP is also supported by Innovation Norway and The Norwegian Embassy in Singapore.


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