Gaz de France invests in LNG
How do you reach gas reserves when a sea stands in your way? In the Middle East, pipelines are used to connect offshore wells to the coast but they work best on flat seafloors at shallow depths. Attempts were made to adapt the technology to greater depths between Algeria and Spain but no solution was found. As a result, Gaz de France begins researching new methods for transporting gas in liquid form.
Four shipyards perform studies to develop tanks adapted to transporting LNG: Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime, the Dunkirk and Bordeaux shipyards, and the Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée (La Seyne, France).
Transporting liquid methane by sea
Along with SEGANS (Société d’Etudes pour le transport et la valorisation des gaz naturals du Sahara) and various ship-builders and bankers, Gaz de France creates the research company Méthane Transport dedicated to transporting gas by sea and river. Together, the partners test new methods for transporting liquid methane by sea and open an experimental LNG station near Nantes.
Le Beauvais and Le Jules Verne
Gaz de France charters an experimental ship known as Le Beauvais. The ship sets sail on May 15, 1962 with LNG produced in Nantes in its tanks. On July 2, Le Beauvais offloads its cargo at the Roche-Maurice station after navigating up the Loire River.
On June 27, 1962, Gaz de France orders its first LNG carrier, later named Le Jules Verne, from the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime shipyard.
The entry to the Port of Le Havre is leveled to build a storage facility and LNG regasification terminal.
Arzew, Algeria: construction of a liquefaction plant and LNG terminal
The French company Technip and the American company Pritchard manage the general engineering of these projects on behalf of the Algerian company CAMEL. The French company SEGANS
provides the liquefaction technology.
Le Jules Verne: the first French LNG carrier to set sail!
On September 8, an LNG carrier with a 24,570-m3 capacity is inaugurated Le Jules Verne by
Madame Maurice-Bokanovski, wife of the French Minister of Industry. Mr. Jean Jules Verne,
grandson of Jules Verne, is in attendance.
March 28, 1965: the first LNG delivery takes place at the Le Havre terminal
This date marks the start of a new era: the birth of the French LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) industry. The Le Jules Verne LNG carrier begins a series of 3,400-km intercontinental trips. The ship is able to complete 33 trips per year between Algeria and Le Havre.
Polar Alaska: an LNG carrier with integrated tanks
On November 10, the Polar Alaska LNG carrier offloads its first LNG cargo delivered from
Alaska, United States to Yokohama, Japan.
With a 71,500-m3 capacity, this ship is the first designed with “integrated tanks,”
a French technology developed by Gaz de France and Gaz Transport.
The Fos-sur-Mer LNG terminal (later renamed Fos Tonkin)
The new terminal is designed to receive the new generation of LNG carriers, such as the Descartes and the Hassi R’Mel with capacities of 50,000 m3 and 40,000 3 respectively. The terminal’s storage and regasification capacities are adapted to accommodate these ships. Large quantities of Algerian gas arrive through this terminal to power southern France and the Paris region.
The Descartes and Hassi R’Mel LNG carriers
These two ships are defined by a substantially larger transportation capacity, at 50,000 m3 and 40,000 m3 respectively. The addition of these two ships brings the world’s total to nine large LNG carriers with a combined capacity of 380,000 m3 and two small LNG carriers with a combined capacity of 9,120 m3. At the same time, the Everett terminal opens in the United States. In 2000, the terminal is purchased by Tractebel, a company that joined the SUEZ Group in 2002.
Algeria: the Skikda liquefaction plant
A world leader in LNG production, the Skikda plant primarily supplies the French market through a contract signed in 1971 between Gaz de France and Sonatrach. Surplus gas is sold to the United States. Three liquefaction units are built at the plant. It is designed to produce 20,000 m3 of LNG per day and to treat 5.5 billion m3 of gas per year from the Hassi R’Mel deposit.
On November 6, 1972, Gaz de France officially commissions its second LNG terminal in France. Known as Fos Tonkin, it is located on the Mediterranean coast.
First LNG-powered bus in Paris
Three RATP bus prototypes powered by LNG service the 85 route between Saint-Denis and the Luxembourg RER station. A service station prototype also opens in the courtyard of the RATP bus depot at the Carrefour Pleyel station in Saint-Denis. The bus features an engine developed by Saviem (Société anonyme de véhicules industriels et d’équipements mécaniques) at the cryogenic testing station in Nantes.
The Édouard L.D. LNG carrier sets sail
The Édouard L.D. LNG carrier has a capacity of 125,000 m3. Built at the Chantiers de France-Dunkerque shipyard with Gaz Transport’s technique of employing tanks insulated with an Invar membrane, it travels between Arzew in Algeria and the future Montoir-de-Bretagne LNG terminal. The ship remains on standby
until the terminal is commissioned.
The Descartes becomes the first LNG carrier with a full cargo to cross through the Suez Canal.
The LNG carrier Ramdane Abane completes its first delivery
With a capacity of 125 000 m3, the Ramdane Abane completes its first delivery in Europe. Owned by Sonatrach and chartered by Gaz de France, the ship flies the Algerian flag. Built at the Chantiers navals de l’Atlantique shipyard and inaugurated in May 1981, it contains five tanks designed using Gaz Transport’s insulation technology, complete with an Invar membrane.
Commissioning of the Zeebrugge LNG terminal in Belgium
Commissioning of the Zeebrugge LNG terminal. The new LNG terminal commissioned in Belgium plays a key role in supplying Europe, as it lies at the convergence point of several European gas pipelines. It opened with a capacity of 5 billion m3 of natural gas per year. Operated by the Belgian company Fluxys, a subsidiary of Tractebel, the terminal’s capacity was expanded to 9 billion m3 of natural gas in 2009. GDF SUEZ relinquished its interest in Fluxys in 2010.
Malaysia orders five LNG carriers equipped with French technology
Petronas Marine, a subsidiary of the Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas, orders five LNG carriers from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard. The ships have a capacity of 130,000 m3 of LNG. They are built using French technology developed by Gaz Transport, a subsidiary of Gaz de France.
Creation of GTT
Gaz Transport – Gaz de France (51%), Total (39%) and Worms (10%) – and SN Technigaz – Bouygues offshore (100%) – merge to form a new company, Gaz Transport & Technigaz (GTT). Renovation work begins on the Fos Tonkin LNG terminal to receive LNG from Algeria as contracted in 1993.
Gaz de France: India’s partner for LNG imports
Gaz de France is selected from among 17 companies to work as India’s advisor and partner for its LNG imports. The Group signs an agreement with four Indian companies, including the gas company Petronet. In return, Gaz de France receives a 10% stake in the future Dahej LNG terminal. The partnership also calls for the eventual construction of a second LNG terminal in Kochi, Kerala.
Japan adopts insulated-tank technology
For the first time, Japanese shipyards employ GTT-owned technology using insulated tanks for LNG carrier construction. Ordered by the Malaysian company Petronas, the technology is adopted for two ships, each of which has a 137,000-m3 capacity.
The Montoir-de-Bretagne LNG terminal increases its capacity, notably to receive LNG deliveries from Nigeria.
Gaz de France acquires a stake in the Snøhvit gas field, located off the coast of Norway, north of the Arctic Circle, and exploited by Statoil. It presents a number of technical challenges: gas is produced offshore at the Snøhvit, Albatross and Askelaad fields, then transported by underwater pipeline to the plant on the island of Melkøya, located in the bay of the city of Hammerfest. This plant is managed by Statoil on behalf of 5 companies, including GDF SUEZ. The Group has a 12% stake in the plant and the exploration-production license.
Gaz de France signs a supply contract with Egyptian Liquefied Natural Gas (ELNG), calling for the purchase of 3.6 million MT of LNG and the construction of the Idku liquefaction plant. Gaz de France receives a 5% stake in the plant and opens a local office in Cairo.
A second carrier terminal at Fos Cavaou
Launch of Fos Cavaou carrier terminal project. The 80 hectare terminal will receive its LNG supply from Egypt and will be able to welcome the largest LNG carriers in operation. Equipped with GTT technology, its storage tanks hold 330,000 m3 of LNG with a regasification capacity of 8.25 billion m3 of natural gas per year. Its first LNG cargo will be unloaded and placed in cold storage in October 2009, while the terminal is officially commissioned in April 2010.
The Gaz de France energY and Provalys LNG carriers enter service
The Gaz de France energY and Provalys LNG carriers present two innovations. On the one hand, a new generation of insulated tanks reduces evaporation and increases transportation capacity. In addition, the hybrid propulsion system (diesel-electric) runs on natural gas. Provalys connects Idku in Egypt with the Fos Cavaou terminal. Gaselys, the sister ship of Provalys, is launched the following year in 2007.
In 2008, GDF SUEZ was created to combine the expertise and skills of Gaz de France and SUEZ. This development enabled the Group to respond to new challenges in LNG markets, while continuing to expand its flexibility in both upstream and downstream activities, from floating terminals to retail LNG.
Insulated containment in Fos Cavaou, Boston and Mejillones
The GDF SUEZ Point Fortin ship is delivered. It features an improved containment system using a Mark III insulating membrane designed by Gaz Transport and Technigaz (trapezoid tank).
The Fos Cavaou LNG terminal enters service. With the Le Havre terminal closing in 1989, France now hosts three LNG terminals, two of which are located in Fos-sur-Mer.
The offshore terminal known as Neptune Deepwater Port opens. This is an offshore regasification terminal located off the coast of Boston, United States. The Mejillones terminal is inaugurated in Chile.
A new technique for detecting leaks on LNG carriers
The TAMI (Thermal Assessment of Membrane Integrity) method helps identify defects requiring repair in the insulating membrane of an LNG carrier’s storage tank. Specializing in this technique is Cryovision, a subsidiary of GTT. The technique can be extended to the entire GDF SUEZ fleet.
Cameron LNG, Uruguay, LNG service station
GDF SUEZ takes part in building the Cameron LNG liquefaction plant in the United States. In Uruguay, the Group builds a floating terminal. GNL del Plata will be able to receive LNG tankers with a 218,000 m3 capacity.
In France, the country’s first LNG service stations open. Elengy, a subsidiary of GDF SUEZ, offers a new service for loading LNG tanker trucks.
A direct transshipment and Cameron LNG gets the green light
Elengy successfully transships a cargo of LNG produced at Snøhvit. The Grace Dahlia transported a shipment to Montoir-de-Bretagne, where it was transferred directly – without passing through the terminal’s storage tanks – to the hold of the Grace Barleria, which then delivered the shipment to the end customer in Asia.
The Cameron LNG project receives approval from US authorities. The first plant is scheduled to begin production in 2017.
Development of retail LNG
Through its subsidiaries LNGeneration and LNGSolutions, GDF SUEZ works to develop new LNG applications to make industrial companies more competitive. As the leading LNG importer in Europe with comprehensive expertise across the gas value chain, the Group intends to become a leader in the transported LNG market in Europe.
Note: the Le Havre terminal already offered a service to transport LNG by truck to stations not connected to the transport network. The Everett terminal has also offered this service since its creation in 1971.