Validating, de-risking and optimizing landmark LNG project



Steve Hemsley, solutions sales director, Lanner, UK


Canada is the world’s third largest producer of natural gas, with approximately 97 percent produced from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, which spans Alberta and British Columbia. Kitimat LNG, which draws on the basin’s supplies, represents Canada’s first LNG export terminal. Co-owned by Apache Corporation, EOG Resources and Encana Corporation, Kitimat LNG is located on Bish Cove, approximately 650 kilometers north of Vancouver.

The LNG facility is thought to have approximately 19 trillion cubic feet of combined marketable or technically recoverable natural gas resources. The facility will be responsible for natural gas liquefaction, LNG storage and marine ship loading facilities. The site has a planned initial capacity of approximately five million metric tonnes per annum, the equivalent of nearly 700 million cubic feet per day – and a potential capacity of 10 million metric tonnes per annum or more.

The location was originally conceived as an import terminal, however, technological advances in gas recovery and opportunities to supply to the Pacific Rim countries have led to new plans. Created to supply markets in the Asia Pacific region, Kitimat LNG represents the shortest shipping route to Pacific Basin LNG markets compared to other international energy markets. The average laden voyage to Asia is approximately 11 days.

This provides an opportunity for Asian utility companies to diversfiy their portfolio through exposure to one of the largest natural gas supplies in the world. To this end, the project also comprises construction of a 463 kilometer long, 914 milimeter diameter pipeline from Summit Lake, British Columbia to Kitimat and is scheduled to begin export in 2015.

Validating decisions, reducing risk Managing a project of this magnitude, requires testing, evaluating and validating key decisions pertaining to all aspects of the facility. There also needs to be a justification of the feasibility of the project. The level of investment associated with LNG projects, combined with the fact the facility was unprecedented in Canada, meant that Apache required a simulation partner to ensure that investment was channelled appropriately, processes optimized, and risk minimized. Following market evaluation, Apache selected Lanner’s WITNESS solution, which delivers a set of professional tools to model and simulate any business process.

Model behaviour

At the outset of the project, Apache worked with Lanner’s team of consultants to scope a model which would support them in validating their investment case; optimizing processes and procedures, and establishing the appropriate resourcing levels necessary to maximize operational performance and efficiency. Once established, the WITNESS model simulated all variables affecting the operation of the facility. These included planned and unplanned downtime, the cause and effect of delays and congestion, and the impact of any proposed changes. Furthermore, WITNESS allowed detailed testing of the system under conditions that reflected any potential increase in demand. Through understanding future performance and risk before implementing prospective modifications, planners were able to effectively 'de-risk' the project, validate decisions and verify investment at every stage of the project’s lifecycle.

Specifically, WITNESS performed comprehensive analyses of the complex, interdependent processes involved in optimizing plant production, to assess the rate of the liquefaction process; capacity of onsite tank storage; jetty and shipping berth availability; loading rates; voyage time; delays caused by weather variability; in transit boil-off and off load rates.


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