Cameroon becomes 20th LNG exporter with Hilli Episeyo’s first cargo

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The floating LNG production (FLNG) vessel Hilli Episeyo dispatched its inaugural cargo on 17 May.

The shipment, loaded on board the 2004-built, 138,000 m3 Galicia Spirit, marked the start-up of the second LNG export project utilising an FLNG vessel and the first employing a converted FLNG vessel.

Golar LNG’s Hilli Episeyo has put Cameroon into the industry record books as the world’s 20th LNG exporting country. The FLNG is helping the West African nation monetise the resources of two otherwise ‘stranded’ gas fields in coastal waters near Kribi.

Hilli Episeyo is moored 14 km off the coast in benign waters by an external frame turret arrangement which allows it to weathervane. Cargo transfers to loading LNGCs are being carried out with the two vessels positioned side-by-side.

Perenco and its partners, Cameroon’s state-owned Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures and Golar LNG, took the final investment decision (FID) to move ahead on the FLNG-based project in November 2015. At the same time Gazprom Marketing & Trading (GMT) agreed to buy the project’s full, contracted 1.2 mta output of LNG over the expected eight-year life of the scheme.

GMT has chartered two LNGCs to lift Cameroon LNG cargoes. In addition to Galicia Spirit, the 146,000 m3, 2006-built Golar Maria is also assigned to the trade. Golar Maria is in position and set to load the second cargo from Hilli Episeyo on 26 May.

Hilli Episeyo started out life as the conventional 1975-built, 125,000 m3 LNG carrier Hilli. Following four decades of employment shuttling LNG cargoes, Golar sent the Moss spherical tank vessel to the Keppel yard in Singapore for conversion in 2015.

Hilli Episeyo was prepared for its new lease of life through the installation of Black & Veatch liquefaction technology and arrangements for connection to a client-specified mooring system. The B&V PRICO liquefaction process uses a single mixed refrigerant technology which has a small enough footprint to enable mounting on a vessel.

The conversion of Hilli Episeyo required 14-15M man-hours of work. Hilli Episeyo has been provided with a liquefaction capacity of 2.4 mta of LNG, which should stand the vessel in good stead if it is moved to another project to capture stranded gas at the conclusion of the Cameroon LNG venture.

Golar LNG has a pair of veteran Moss LNGCs similar to Hilli lined up for transformations to FLNG vessels for further offshore West Africa export projects. Once the developers of the Fortuna LNG venture in Equatorial Guinea and the Greater Tortue initiative in offshore waters shared by Senegal and Mauritania make FIDs on their schemes, expected this year, Gandria and Gimi, respectively, will be sent to Keppel for conversion.


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