Author: Joseph Murphy, Natural Gas World | 9 May, 2023
What does LNG2023 mean to Flowserve?
As a holistic OEM supporting the LNG value chain, we look forward to LNG2023 as an excellent opportunity to showcase our capabilities, the value we bring to our customers and a new strategic initiative.
In Flowserve’s view, how should natural gas and especially LNG best retain their social licence to operate on the path to net-zero energy?
We’ve seen a lot of improvement since the earliest LNG projects were launched a half century or so ago. It helps that we’ve had very well-defined regulatory frameworks and compliance protocols in place for much of that time. Our impact over that period has been managed efficiently to meet, and in fact exceed, the standards of corporate social responsibility, which in turn has supported the holistic operation of the social licence.
Today, energy project developers work cohesively with local and federal governments. They’ve also started engaging with a wider constituency of stakeholders at a much earlier stage in planning. As a result, the social compact has become a critical success factor for major LNG projects. I believe we need to continue building on what’s evolved over the years while also incorporating the lessons we’ve continued to learn.
Air emissions, waste management, noise, and environmental challenges related to LNG vessels and shipping are some of the most critical issues we’re currently facing. With more than 20,000 Flowserve valves, 10,000-plus pumps and over 10,000 mechanical seals operating in LNG facilities globally, we’re working hard to make that energy flow safely and efficiently.
Can you explain how fugitive methane emissions can be abated through innovation and digitalization?
In addition to being a major potential source of greenhouse gas emissions, methane is 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide on a pound-for-pound basis. It’s easy to see why LNG developers are making it a top priority to minimize fugitive methane emissions.
In a typical 4.5 MTPA mixed-refrigerant liquefaction train, you could be looking at up to 1,200 control and isolation valves under general and severe service. Just imagine the cumulative impact of leakages coming from that many valves. Together, they could be a noticeable contributor to the carbon intensity of the LNG produced if they aren’t taken care of or abated at the source. That’s why I believe more effective flow control of valves, equipped with digitalization capabilities, need to become an integral part of the liquefaction segment. These efforts can play a vital role in supporting safety and emissions reduction within the value chain.
How is Flowserve contributing to this effort to lower fugitive methane emissions?
We offer three levels of control to lower fugitive methane emissions through our valve portfolio:
The first method is our standard environmental packing solution. It’s available in a variety of configurations and provides an industry-proven capability to limit emissions to less than 100 ppm.
The second was developed specifically for high-temperature uses like molten salt applications, but it offers certain benefits to LNG processes as well.
The final level of protection is to use metal bellows seals, which offer a zero-leakage option. They generally have a shorter lifecycle and are more expensive to replace. The Flowserve solution is to offer a pressurised system that lowers the pressure differential, significantly extending the life and effectiveness of the bellows. The digitization of these valves is made possible by our RedRaven predictive maintenance system, which can quickly detect when the bellows is about to fail and provide an alert to enable proactive action.
What other ways can the environmental impact of natural gas operations be reduced in terms of Flowserve’s areas of work?
Effective service and support, including regular maintenance, is essential to ensuring that LNG liquefaction and regasification facilities run smoothly and efficiently. Asset management also increases productivity by reducing maintenance costs, minimising risk, and ensuring a safer work environment.
Now that digitization is becoming one of the top priorities for LNG developers, it’s part of early engineering feed scope discussions when designing LNG and regasification facilities. As an end-to-end solution provider within LNG applications, Flowserve can help with lifecycle services designed around an energy company’s key performance indicators. We can tailor an equipment maintenance plan with sustainable practices that enable plant operators to get the most out of our seals, pumps and other flow control systems.
In addition, a global network of service capabilities, long-term support and parts availability are equally important to maximise performance, minimise risk, and reduce expenses. All three Flowserve platforms — pumps, valves and seals — along with automation and other services, are backed by strong technical expertise and a network of 190 Quick Response Centers all around the globe. I believe that enables us to provide superior support to our customers and stakeholders in reducing the environmental impact of natural gas operations.