Perfecting LNG terminal expansion

Published: November 1, 2012
  • Sinès LNG terminal at commissioning phase - photo REN Atlântico
  • New tank top - photo REN Atlântico
  • The new tank nearing completion - photo REN Atlântico
  • Tractebel Enginering Sinès team and PETS Management team - photo REN Atlântico
  • Geert Wambacq interviewed by local press - photo REN Atlântico
  • Tractebel Engineering management on site (from l. to r.) : Pierre Vandermeulen, Georges Cornet (CEO), Geert Wambacq

 

Demand for LNG is increasing. But finding new terminal sites and getting permits is harder. Expansion is a good, fast answer – as Sines proved when, 5 years after putting the terminal into operation, Tractebel Engineering returned to Portugal as Technical Advisors within the REN Atlântico OE team.

BUILDING ON GOOD RELATIONS

The challenge in LNG Terminal expansion is managing the works on an operating site while respecting safety concerns and production quotas. Thanks to good team integration, collaboration and strong direction by owners REN Atlântico – who demonstrated full confidence in our advice – the PETS (Projecto de Expansao do Terminal de Sines) went to plan. Read more about this beneficial teamwork

3 KEY PHASES OF EXPANSION

The terminal expansion called for the construction of 3 main new systems and interconnecting cryogenic piping, as well as general improvements to the existing facilities. Find out more about the 3 key phases

TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Constructing an LNG tank is the most time-consuming, costly element of a terminal. It’s a huge structure; but even more impressive is the process of raising the roof! The temporary substitution of 2 old cryogenic LP pumps for new ones in each of the 2 existing tanks also made this a very interesting project. Watch the LNG tank’s roof raising


BUILDING ON GOOD RELATIONS

The challenge in LNG Terminal expansion is managing the works on an operating site while respecting safety concerns and production quotas. Thanks to good team integration, collaboration and strong direction by owners REN Atlântico – who demonstrated full confidence in our advice – the PETS (Projecto de Expansao do Terminal de Sines) went to plan.

INSIDE KNOWLEDGE

Tractebel Engineering was EPC contractor for the new build of Sines LNG Terminal in 2000 – 2004. For REN Atlântico (who took ownership in 2006 and decided to expand the terminal’s operating capacity in 2008) this made us strong contenders in the bid for the role of Technical Advisors, for 3 good reasons:

  • We knew the site well and could involve experts from the original Sines build – delivering full feedback of experience.
  • We could draw on previous experience in LNG terminal expansion (Zeebrugge) and apply it to Sines.
  • Good relations (developed on the new build) with the client’s OE and operational teams allowed the seamless integration of 4 of our experts (focussed on specific LNG competences), into the team.

With an experienced, fully integrated team on-site, backed by 10 experts in Brussels who reviewed the contractor’s documents and made site visits as needed; the benefits were clear from the start.

HIGH-LEVEL REACTIVITY!

REN Atlântico signed the contract in June 2008. In July a special Tractebel Engineering task force (bringing back most of the Sines build experts) went on site for 2 weeks to carry out a conceptual design confirmation and begin the FEED. 6 weeks later, the FEED documents were issued, approved and pricing requests were sent to the EPC bidders. After assisting with bid evaluations and selection – the EPC contract was awarded in April 2009.

EFFECTIVE TEAMWORK

As all construction took place right next to operating facilities, every action required daily coordination of the EPC contractor, the operators and the OE team – with Tractebel Engineering advising on all sides. It was an effective set-up and the close working relationship between the teams was crucial to key dates being successfully met. Final commissioning was carried out in May 2012 (a month early) – with time to spare to ensure the overall performance of the terminal and punch list completion, before hand over.

“Expansion is a new era in LNG and we’re ready for it.” Geert Wambacq, Project Manager


3 KEY PHASES OF EXPANSION

The terminal expansion called for the construction of 3 main new systems and interconnecting cryogenic piping, as well as general improvements to the existing facilities:

  1. A new seawater system (intake, filters, pumps, pipes and underground outfall tunnel).
  2. A new process area (increasing regasification capacity) and send out system.
  3. A new LNG storage tank of 150,000m3 net.

WELL COMMISSIONED

2010: The new seawater intake/outfall – needed to pump additional seawater to warm the new LNG vaporisation units (5000m3/h seawater is needed to vaporise LNG 400m3/h) was the first facility finished – even though the return route to the outfall crossed existing roads and a railway that couldn’t be disrupted by piping excavations. The solution was a tunnel (exiting the seawater by gravity) drilled well below these. The complete system was commissioned in December 2010.

2011: The regasification and send out process, the most complex phase in terms of piping and the cooling steps involved, was tested and put into operation in November 2011.

2012: The massive new tank took 3 years to complete. But time gained on the insulation (perlite filling) between the inner and outer tanks and the drying and purging of the inner tank, meant mechanical completion ahead of schedule in March 2012, with first filling in April 2012.

SINES LNG TERMINAL – BEFORE + AFTER

 

Terminal Capacity Before After extension
Tank Storage 2 x 120.000m3 + 150.000m3
Regasification (84 Barg) Base: 675.000 m3 (n)/h
Max: 900.000 m3 (n)/h
Base: 900.000 m3 (n)/h
Max: 1.350.000 m3 (n)/h
Seawater Flow Intake: 20.000 m3/h
Outfall: 20.000 m3/h
+ 40.000 m3/h
+ 40.000 m3/h

 


TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Constructing an LNG tank is the most time-consuming, costly element of a terminal. It’s a huge structure; but even more impressive is the process of raising the roof! The temporary substitution of 2 old cryogenic LP pumps for new ones in each of the 2 existing tanks also made this a very interesting project.

SWAPPING PUMPS

To increase interim production capacity while building the new tank, 2 pumps in each of the existing tanks were exchanged (with the tanks in operation) for 2 of the new, more efficient pumps procured for the new tank. The substitutions were partially reversed when the new tank was ready. Today both old tanks have 1 new + 2 old pumps and the new tank has 2 new + 2 old pumps – equilibrating all 3 tanks.

RAISING THE TANK ROOF

Like “a giant thermos flask” an LNG tank has an insulated inner tank (9% nickel steel plate) to keep the LNG at -160° C and an outer containment tank in cryogenic concrete. Just the foundations for the new tank at Sines took 9,000 m³ of concrete! But it was raising the roof that really raised eyebrows. While the outer tank walls were still low, 630 tonnes of steel were lowered into the centre for the roof to be constructed on the ground as the tank walls rose around it. When both were complete, air pumped under the roof dome slowly lifted the metal mass to the top of the walls – using an over pressure of just 5 Mbar. At Sines, in less than 4 hours, the roof was raised, fixed to the top beam and sealed! It was a one day event, but a spectacular sight!

TOP TEAM WORK

“The Tractebel Team in SINES LNG Expansion Terminal was well integrated in the REN Project Team and their skills and pro-activity were fundamental to the great success of the Project.”

Monica Conceiçao – Construction Manager – REN Atlantico

REN team

More information

Geert Wambacq, Project Manager
Arlindo Santos
, Piping and Mechanical Superintendant
Julien Martin
, Tank Construction Manager
Nils Grobet, Commissioning Manager

SINES-TE team

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