DNV GL Unveils Its Unmanned FLNG Concept

DNV GL has developed a new unmanned floating LNG concept intended to unlock the potential of remote offshore gas fields by overcoming some of the exiting operational challenges.

The concept is called Solitude and combines exiting technological advances into a solution that, according to DNV GL, offers some 20 percent reduction in annual OPEX, only adding a few percent increase in CAPEX and at the same time increase the overall safety.

The concept comes as the need arises for more remote projects that are able of overcoming even more challenging cost barriers, whilst still meeting increasingly stringent safety and environmental standards.

“Solitude has been developed with maintainability foremost in mind,” says Elisabeth Tørstad, DNV GL CEO Oil & Gas. “By changing the focus from maximum efficiency to maximum reliability, and selecting robust processing options with built-in redundancy, we were able to develop a solution that ensures production levels and boosts the economic viability of FLNG projects.”

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Solitude’s power that would otherwise be generated by high-maintenance gas turbines would as an example be generated by fuel cells, thus improving power generation reliability and reducing the unit’s environmental footprint.

Under the concept, equipment throughout the FLNG is modularised and monitored from shore with much of the routine maintenance and fault correction carried out by self-programming autonomous inspection and maintenance units (robots). The topside has a system of rails that run along each process train, providing these robots with access to all the equipment.

Wireless sensor networks act as eyes, ears and noses, feeding information to a condition monitoring system that overseas fault detection, proactive maintenance and repair planning.

As there will be no one living on board or working on the topside during normal operation, the associated personal safety risks are eliminated, DNV GL said.

Elisabeth Tørstad
Elisabeth Tørstad

As explained, when people do enter for large maintenance campaigns, the topside would be prepared for a safe working environment. A new support and accommodation vessel concept and its associated docking system on the FLNG further boost the safety of interventions.

“Existing frontier oil and gas projects have resulted in tremendous technological developments, particularly in the subsea realm, and Solitude draws on this,” says Ms Tørstad. “Operators are already controlling subsea installations and simple, fixed offshore installations from shore. Given the on-going advances in autonomous systems and remote operations, unmanned offshore installations are a natural development over the next few decades.”

“While Solitude is a holistic concept, many of its solutions can be implemented independently – and some are already available today. These projects are our way of thinking out loud. Our aim is to present high-level concepts that can form a basis for discussion and be further developed in collaboration with the industry. We see Solitude as a new opportunity for the future,” ends Elisabeth Tørstad.