What is a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU)?
Also known as an offshore floating gas storage facility, it is a ship moored offshore or near the shore that has on board a regasification plant capable of returning Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) into gas and then supplying this gas via a pipeline into the local gas network.
How big is an FSRU?
It is equivalent in size to a large cruise liner. It can be up to 295 metres long, 45 metres wide, with a draft of 12 metres and storage of up to 170,000 m3 of LNG (equivalent to around a week of average winter gas demand in Victoria).
Where will it be moored?
It will be moored in Port Phillip Bay, 19 kilometres off North Avalon and 50 kilometres south west of Melbourne. The site has been selected to cause minimal disruption to normal bay activities especially recreational fishing and shipping access to the Port of Melbourne.
This will be Australia’s first FSRU. How many exist overseas and what is their safety record?
There are 35 FRSUs currently operating internationally with another 10 under construction. They enjoy an excellent safety record. LNG shipping also has an excellent safety record with over 100,000 ship movements conducted without incident.
Who is Vopak?
Vopak has a remarkable 400-year history of servicing markets across the world. It has been established in Australia for more than half a century. It is part of Royal Vopak, a Dutch company which today operates a global network of 23 terminals across all major trade routes.
What is Vopak’s record with FSRUs?
Vopak is regarded as one of the leading energy infrastructure companies globally and currently, in partnership, operates four LNG import terminals, two of which are FSRUs. Their experience and expertise have been critical during investigations into developing a similar facility in Port Phillip Bay.
Is there a risk of spillage or accident during loading, unloading or storage?
The LNG sector has a proud safety record regarding spillage or loss during storage. LNG tankers and modern FRSUs are constructed with safety as a priority, being twin hulled, heavily insulated and featuring four or six separate storage tanks. LNG is a colourless and odourless liquid. If accidentally spilled it quickly evaporates.
Will the FSRU mean local jobs? How many and at what skill level?
Constructing the facility will generate employment for approximately 250 people with ongoing jobs for 40. Some expertise will be imported from overseas and interstate, but the majority will be employed locally in construction, maintenance, plumbing and electrical.
A program generating employment for youth, indigenous people and those with disabilities will be initiated as part of Vopak's employment policy.
Why a floating site and not an onshore facility?
The advantage of an FSRU is that it offers the same processing capacity but avoids the impact and cost of building a large onshore facility. As soon as the FSRU is moored it is operational. When the facility is no longer required the vessel departs and the community avoids the problem of redundant infrastructure and expensive site rehabilitation.
If offshore, why not Geelong or Westernport rather than North Avalon?
A near shore site at Geelong was given serious consideration by Vopak but dismissed given the need for constant dredging and the tight navigational and docking requirements. Any site offshore of Victoria is prohibitive due to the severe sea state, significantly impeding operations.
What are the advantages of this mooring site?
The proposed mooring is approximately 19km offshore from Avalon which minimises visual impacts on local residents and communities. This site was found to strike the balance between the environment, marine life and social amenity and to cause minimal disruption to normal bay activities, including shipping movements. A subsea pipeline from the marine berth will meet the shore near Beach Road and continue to run underground for nine kilometres through Melbourne Water farmland and edge a private property and Avalon airport before connecting to the current gas pipeline infrastructure.
How many LNG supply tankers will visit the facility? How long will they stay and how large will they be?
It is estimated there will be 20 – 40 deliveries a year, depending on how domestic supply from existing fields declines over the next decade. Supply ships usually dock for 24 hours to unload the LNG. The tankers are powered by the LNG they are carrying making them extremely environmentally effective. An LNG tanker, traditionally recognised by its dome-shaped tanks, can be up to 295 metres long – similar in size to the FSRU.
What is the advantage for Victoria and the community of this facility?
It will supply gas to Victorian industry, businesses and households during a predicted acute shortage beginning in the next three – five years. At the same time, it has the potential to maintain a competitive gas supply from other Australian or international LNG sources.
The Victoria LNG project will be able to accommodate the supply of gas to meet variable demand through the volume it imports or by storing LNG onboard the FSRU and an industry standard ship arrival schedule. The Vopak business model of “open access” will support multiple users providing competition for gas in the state.
This commercial flexibility offers a vital advantage over single operator terminals.
Vopak will develop, own and operate the import terminal; it will not own or market gas; that will be undertaken by users of the terminal.