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Oman’s new LNG bunkering project to be fully solar-powered

Illustration of an LNG plant.
Illustration of an LNG plant.

MUSCAT: A new LNG bunkering project set to be established at the Port of Sohar will be fuelled entirely by solar energy in the first such renewables-powered venture of its kind in the Middle East.

Marsa LNG - a partnership of French-based energy giant TotalEnergies (80%) and Almuzn LNG LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Omani integrated energy group OQ (20%) - is developing the 1 million tonne capacity LNG project to serve primarily as a bunkering and export terminal.

For want of suitable land in the vicinity of the project, the solar farm is proposed to be established elsewhere within Oman and with enough capacity to meet the energy needs of the LNG plant nearly twice over. This output will be fed into the national grid, which in turn will power the LNG plant through a ‘power wheeling arrangement’ with grid operator, the Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC).

Outlining its strategy to deliver a wholly renewables-powered LNG plant at Sohar Port, Marsa LNG explained: “The solar plant will be connected to the grid network and from there, energy will be procured for the LNG plant. The LNG plant will consume around 44% of the energy produced by the solar plant during the day through power wheeling agreements with OETC for usage of their grid network for power supply. Nighttime electricity will be procured from the OETC grid through the same dedicated power connection. Since the solar plant will be producing the entire energy needs of the LNG plant during the day itself, there will be an excess of around 56% during the day which will be sold on the Omani spot market.”

Importantly, the solar project will help offset the LNG plant’s Scope 2 emissions – indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the procurement of electricity, as well as steam, heat or cooling for plant operations. It will allow for Marsa LNG to market its output as low-carbon (in comparison with the output from conventionally powered LNG plants) and qualify for carbon credits as well.

Further, to ensure that the project’s carbon footprint is pared to the minimum, Marsa LNG has been designed to be a zero-flaring plant. Accordingly, all the normal flaring base line emitters (flare header purging, compressor seal gas vents) have been eliminated.

“The proposed design will include the best-in-class passing valve design and will implement the latest guidance on passing valve identification/ repair. Any identified passing valves can be repaired promptly online using temporary operating procedures,” said Marsa LNG.

Besides, all compressors operating within the LNG plant will be driven by electric motors, while the cooling system selected for the project will use air instead of water due to water scarcity in the project area, the promoters stated.

French engineering contractor Technip Energies has been tipped to undertake the construction of the LNG bunkering project at an estimated cost of $1 billion. Not included in the scope of this project is the solar farm, which will be undertaken as a separate venture.

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