“Building a ship is accepting a challenge: the ancient and complex challenge of building a very heavy object and making it float. This is why the hull launching is a crucial moment in the construction of any ship, the moment the vessel will touch the water for the first time, and the moment which we’ll learn the outcome of the challenge ". This is how Luca Faccenda, Hull & LQ execution manager, explains the palpable emotion that can be felt today at Geoje shipyards, in South Korea. It is here that Coral Sul FLNG, the sophisticated floating gas production and liquefaction plant, is taking shape, in order to leave for Mozambique in 2021. Today, January 14, 2020, the 140,000 ton hull will enter the water for the first time and the huge heavy-duty plant converts into a ship".
The dry dock is filling up with water, and Coral Sul FLNG starts to float
In the construction of the Coral Sul FLNG, the launch is also a watershed: now that the hull is in the water, it is ready to accommodate the topside modules, i.e. all those systems that will allow it to receive, treat and liquefy gas from the Coral field. The modules are currently under construction, lined up on the pontoons of Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) shipyards in Geoje. Among the largest, most efficient and technologically advanced in the world, SHI yards have developed innovative construction techniques that allow time and cost optimization. The construction of a FLNG is also particularly challenging because it requires to merge the world of shipbuilding and that of industrial process plants. Here in Geoje, the project team works with TechnipFMC, SHI and JGC who provide all the expertise necessary to carry out the project.
The construction of the hull of Coral Sul FLNG requires the use of cranes can lift up to 8,000 tons.
"The hull of Coral Sul FLNG was built in blocks, like a huge lego," explains Luca. "We have built over 2000 blocks, which were assembled into 21 giga-blocks and then 6 mega-blocks, later positioned in two basins with millimeter precision to form the structure of the hull". As of today, the hull will be ready to integrate the living quarter - which contains cabins, offices, control room and recreational spaces - and subsequently, in sequence, the 12 gas process and utilities modules and finally the turret which will anchor the FLNG and collec gas production. “The living quarter module by itself weighs over 6,000 tons. It is as tall as a 9-storey building, ready to welcome up to 350 people and to guarantee our entire operating team comfortable living and working conditions on board the ship", concludes Luca.
From South Korea to Mozambique, the construction of Coral Sul FLNG is a global project.
"Construction is proceeding very well, in line with the expectations set at the time of the authorization in 2017, which sees the FLNG depart for Mozambique in late 2021 and start production in 2022", Stefano Rovelli, Coral South project director, explains. "The turret is under construction at Keppel shipyards in Singapore, submarine systems are under construction between the UK, Italy and Norway, well drilling is underway with the Saipem 12000 rig and the Xtrees are already in Mozambique". The turret is, among other things, the anchor point around which the hull can rotate, adapting its position to currents and weather conditions. "The Coral Sul FLNG will be anchored in approximately 2,000 meters of water, the first FLNG in the world to reach these depths. Together with our suppliers, we have analyzed and developed new technologies that allow to manage production and loading of LNG in any weather conditions”, Stefano continues. "We worked with the most prestigious marine and meteorological research institutes, through simulations in tanks and wind tunnels, to ensure that Coral Sul FLNG can operate safely even in the most extreme weather conditions"
Topside modules are being constructed in Geoje, South Korea
Another important strength of the FLNG is its focus on environmental sustainability: “Since the early stages of design we thought about reducing its carbon footprint” explains Stefano, “with the use of aero-derivative gas turbines, electric engines with variable speed, electric transformers with low losses and high voltages, maximized heat recovery, use of heat recovery from boiler fumes and with high-efficiency gas treatment systems". Let’s not forget that we are talking about a ship that is first of all an industrial facility: its place is in the middle of the sea, but complex processes will take place on board, to extract gas from deposits offshore Mozambique to Coral Sul FLNG and from there to the rest of the world.
The hull of Coral Sul FLNG is in open waters for the first time
The event is due on 2022, today the focus is still in Geoje and the time when the dry dock - a tank large enough to allow the construction of a hull 432 meters long and 66 wide - is filled with water, the iron begins to float, bulkheads are opened and the hull of the Coral Sul FLNG goes out into the open sea, for the first time. The ancient challenge is overcome, and the team celebrates an important result. Mozambique gets closer every day.