Paragon Contributes Expertise to LNG Salt-Cavern Storage Pro

Paragon Engineering Services, Inc. has joined a multi-company US Department of Energy (DOE)-sponsored development project to establish the "proof of concept" for an innovative system to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG), vaporize it, and then store it in salt-cavern formations. Conversion Gas Imports L.P. (CGI) holds key patents for LNG vaporization and gas storage technology and will manage the project.

In a review of CGI's proposal, US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said this technology has the potential to expand LNG imports and help meet the growing need for clean natural gas in the U.S.

Jim Davis, Paragon's project manager, cited the project's potential environmental and cost-related benefits and outlined its basic features.

"The process will effectively reduce the land space needed and the cost associated with above-ground cryogenic storage tanks while greatly increasing the storage capacity potential of gas imported as LNG," said Davis.

"The liquefied gas will be unloaded at its usual discharge rate and will be immediately turned into gas vapor," he continued. "The pressure of the gas will be used to send it through pipelines into salt caverns for storage. Once in the salt cavern, the gas is handled identically to all other gas or hydrocarbons currently stored in caverns – a proven technology."

Most of the costs for the "proof of concept" phase will be the DOE's responsibility, with the remainder handled by Paragon and other contributing participants, including operating companies such as ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP; gas distribution companies such as EnCana, Dominion and AGL Resources; and LNG offloading technology providers such as Bluewater, Leif Hoegh and Remora. One of the project's key individuals is CGI Vice President of Engineering William Bishop, who has authored several key LNG-to-cavern technology patents.

"There is very good progress on full-scale testing of key system components, including the high-pressure cryogenic pumps and the Bishop ® Heat Exchanger, such that a basis of design for the offshore facilities can be ready by early next spring," said Bishop. As its contribution to the project, Paragon is applying the company's expertise in the areas of offshore platform facilities, pipelines, LNG off-loading from tankers, vaporizers, instrument and control design, and safety and environmental management programs. Three possible locations for receiving facilities are under study: a site in 300-plus feet of water, a site in about 100 feet of water, and a dockside berth yet to be selected.