Sea transportaton of compressed gas

The CNG technology (Compressed Natural Gas) is a new breakthrough technology of sea transportation of natural gas in a compressed state in cylinders under pressure of up to 25mPa on specially designed vessels, CNG ships. This article dwells on those natural gas transportation routes, where using CNG vessels built in Russia will be economically profitable and preferable in comparison to other technologies, i.e. transportation of liquefied gas on LNG vessels or by sea pipelines.

Lately, a number of foreign consortiums have been intensively working on the CNG vessels design and the first CNG vessels are expected to be used on the natural gas transportation routes in 2010-2011. Fig. 1 (A concept of the sea transportation of compressed natural gas on CNG vessels).


Fig. 1


According to many estimates made by international experts, the natural gas transportation on CNG vessels will be 1.5-2.0 times more economically profitable compared to the sea pipeline transportation or liquefied transportation on LNG vessels with the volumes of natural gas supply 0.5 to 4.0 bln m3 annually at the routes of 250 to 2500 sea miles. Our researches brought us to the same conclusions. Fig. 2.


Fig. 2


A CNG-calculator at www.cng.intari.com and the use of the tariffs produce a cost estimate for gas transportation on CNG vessels built in Russia for specified routes. Fig. 3 (CNG-calculator for cost estimate for gas transportation on CNG vessels built in Russia for specified routes).

The analysis of the obtained results brings us to conclusion that the CNG technology can pave the path to the development of a large number of new deposits at the RF shelf, to gasification of the Russian sea territories and to the organization of the export supplies. The prospective projects based on the CNG technology can be put into the following groups:


Fig. 3



North-West Region

The most promising directions of natural gas transportation on CNG vessels in the north-west region are represented in Fig. 4 (Perspective directions of natural gas transportation on CNG vessels in the North-West Region).

In the Barents Sea, in addition to such gigantic deposits as the Shtokman gas-condensate field with a proved volume of resources of 3.2 trl m3 there are over 50 medium to small fields with resource volumes allowing for annual production of over 0.5 bln m3 of natural gas. Development of many of these fields with the use of traditional technologies is economically unprofitable or technically unfeasible.


Fig. 4


Western Europe is among the most attractive markets for the natural gas from these fields, where demand for the energy resources grows continuously. The region is at the distance of 1,500-1,700 sea miles from the Western European ports, which makes the gas transportation on CNG vessels economically competitive compared to other energy resources available in this market.

Supply of the compressed natural gas from the fields in the Barents Sea is potentially interesting for the companies extracting gas from offshore deposits in the North Sea. Such supplies can significantly compensate for general decrease in gas production in these fields and allow for economically efficient utilization of the infrastructure of jetties and pipelines in the North Sea for subsequent transportation of the gas to Great Britain and continental Europe.

In the nearest future, only in Great Britain the natural gas deficit not covered by supply contracts is estimated by 15.0 bln m3 natural gas per annum. Compressed gas supplies from Russia can provide for up to 25% of this niche. Extension of the natural gas transportation route from the fields in the Barents Sea is 1,500 sea miles.

In the coming years, in the Pecherskoye Sea, the Prirazlomnoye oil field is to be started with a projected annual oil production of 6.6 mln t. The problem of accompanying gas during development of the field has not foundan economically reasonable solution yet.

Transportation of accompanying gas by CNG vessels to the export markets can allow the project operators – OJSC Gasprom and OJSC Rosneft - to make additional profits. Extension of the natural gas transportation route is 1,700 sea miles, which makes the use of CNG vessels competitive. The total need of this market segment related to the transportation of the accompanying gas from the RF continental shelf fields is estimated by 10-15 CNG vessels.

Supply of natural gas as an alternative resource on CNG vessels from the fields in the Barents Sea will be an attractive opportunity for Statoil ASA, an operator of the Snohvit field. The natural gas liquefaction plant on the island of Melkoia, Norway, forming a part of the field technological chain will process annually up to 5.7 bln m3 of natural gas.

The volume of the demand for the natural gas from an alternative source can be estimated at 10% of the plant’s production capacity. Extension of the natural gas transportation route to the island of Melkoia is 250-300 sea miles.

In the North-West Region, the solution of the gas supply problem with Russian natural gas supply by CNG vessels is potentially attractive for Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The countries are situated at a distance of not more than 500 sea miles from the loading point, which will make gas supply by CNG vessels more competitive compared to other option of gas supply to these countries.

Summing up, it can be stated that total potential need for gas transportation in the North-West Region can be satisfied by 85-100 CNG vessels.


Far-East Region

The most perspective directions of natural gas transportation on CNG vessels in the Far-East Region are represented in Fig. 5 (Perspective directions of natural gas transportation on CNG vessels in the Far-East Region).


Fig. 5


At the Sakhalin Island’s shelf, there are over 30 medium to small natural gas fields, whose development with the use of traditional technologies of the gas transportation is economically unprofitable. Within a distance of 500-1500 sea miles from the fields, there are such dynamically growing import markets as Japan, Korea and China having constant deficit in additional supplies of natural gas.

Total capacity of this market segment is estimated as 35-50 CNG vessels.


Other regions

In the Mediterranean Sea region the solution of the gas supply problem by supplies of the Russian natural gas on CNG vessels is potentially attractive for Cyprus, Greece and Israel.

Annual need in natural gas by each of these countries is around 0.8-1.5 bln m3.

To ship the natural gas to the Mediterranean countries, a loading terminal can be built near a village of Dzhugba on the Black Sea, where the Beregovaya compressor station is located serving to the Goluboi Potok (Blue Stream) pipeline. Cyprus, Greece and Israel are located at the distance of 1,300 to 1,700 sea miles from the gas loading point making shipment of the gas by CNG vessels potentially competitive. This market segments require 11-12 CNG vessels.


Prospective of the CNG technology development in Russia


It follows from the above-mentioned analysis, that the demand for the Russian natural gas transportation in the national and foreign markets is extremely high and its considerable part can be satisfied by application of the new CNG technology. The transportation of the Russian natural gas might involve tens of CNG vessels.

However, before any practical proposals for gas transportation on CNG vessels come from shipping companies, their potential niche is occupied by other more traditional technologies:

  • The North-European gas pipeline is being construced at the Baltic Sea;
  • LNG plant for supplies to Japan is under construction on Sakhalin;
  • The LNG plant at the Baltic Sea is projected for the supplies to Europe;
  • Negotiations are held concerning the construction of gas pipelines from Sakhalin to Japan, Korea and China;
  • The South-European gas pipeline project is being developed...

Undoubtedly, there is a real chance to catch the opportunity and start working for creation of the key element of the new technology – own competitive CNG vessels.

We invite everyone interested in the development of this new technology of natural gas sea transportation to find out more about our views on the matter and solutions in this respect and are ready for collaboration.

For more detailed information or for collaboration proposals visit www.cng.intari.com or call us at +7 (812) 352-14-85.

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# 3(17), 2006
Ocean and shelf exploration