GE Technology supports the world’s leading LNG projects



Joe Mastrangelo, Vice President – Turbomachinery, GE Oil & Gas, Florence, Italy


LNG, a critical fuel in the global energy equation
Today there is a leadership race in cleaner, smarter energy technology that is vital to economic growth, job creation and energy security. This could become the dominant job creator of the 21st century, and companies – and countries – that move quickly to seize that opportunity will reap the rewards.

Natural gas is in great demand globally as a clean fuel and as a feedstock for petrochemicals, agricultural chemicals and plastics. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be conveniently transported by ship to distant markets worldwide – well beyond the reach of pipeline systems – making the energy resource extremely accessible.

Until the mid 1980s, the centrifugal compressors used in the liquefaction process were mainly driven by steam turbines, which permitted liquefaction trains with capacities up to two million tons per year. Nowadays, gas turbine technology is the dominant driver for LNG plant refrigeration, as it affords higher power density and so has increased unit train capacity significantly. Today, the world’s largest operating LNG trains, with capacities of nearly 8 million tons per year (mtpy), are driven by GE Frame 9 gas turbines.

The following is a summary of some of the world’s leading LNG projects, each featuring GE technology.

Large-scale complexity of QatarGas
GE turbocompression technology is at the heart of the largest LNG plant in the world operated by Qatargas. Qatargas 1 consists of three onshore LNG trains with a total combined capacity of 10 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Qatargas 2 is the world’s first fully integrated value chain LNG venture, linking natural gas production, liquefaction, shipping, and regasification infrastructure into a single fully integrated LNG development and supply initiative. The facility features two worldclass LNG trains (Trains 4 and 5) in Ras Laffan Industrial City, each with a capacity of 7.8 million tones per annum (mtpa) and approximately 50 percent larger than any other global liquefaction facility currently operating outside of Qatar. Production of Train 4 began in May last year, followed in September by Train 5, raising the Company’s production capacity to nearly 26mtpa.

Four additional Mega Trains, each 7.8 million mtpa LNG, are at different stage of construction or commissioning: QatarGas 3 Train 6, Qatar Gas 4 Train 7 (both operated by 70 percent Qatar Petroleum and 30 percent by Shell), and Ras Gas Trains 6 & 7 (operated by 70 percent Qatar Petroleum and 30 percent Exxon Mobil).

At the heart of these LNG trains are some of the largest refrigeration compressor strings ever manufactured. The first LNG strings to be driven by Frame 9E dry low NOx gas turbines, they supply a combined overall compression power of more than 500 megawatts for each mega train, and incorporate advanced technologies not previously used in the LNG industry.

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