The biggest liquid natural gas (LNG) transporting, storage and regasification vessel ever is due to begin operation in November from its location in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey. As long as the Eiffel Tower is tall, this ship can hold 263,000 cubic meters of LNG and was recently named the MOL FSRU Challenger in a ceremony in South Korea. It was built by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd as the first floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) the company has independently built, owned and operated. It is designed to increase Turkey’s regasification capacity to improve their energy security following the installation of their first FSRU called Neptune.
Turkey has made a number of investments to increase their LNG regasification capacity over the last few years and in 2015, their capacity was 34 million cubic meters. The regasification terminal Egegaz increased its capacity in 2016 and Turkey’s first FSRU was brought online which increased the capacity to 64 million cubic meters. Further terminal expansion is planned at Egegaz but also at Marmara Ereğlisi which will lead to a capacity of 117 cubic meters. This increased capacity is vital as Turkey was the fastest growing market for LNG imports behind China, South Korea and Japan in the first half of this year.
A major advantage to shipping in LNG rather than relying on pipelines is the fact that it can be purchased from anywhere in the world. This allows countries to shop around for the best prices and increases energy security as the country is not dependant on only a few countries where supply could be threatened by political unrest. In winter months, demand surges and last year saw Turkey’s demand at its highest ever. Gyorgy Vargha, CEO of MET International AG, an energy trader based in Zug, Switzerland, predicted that this year would see Turkey import even more to prevent shortages.
The MOL FSRU Challenger may be the biggest vessel of its type but it is not Turkey’s first. The FSRU Neptune arrived in the Agean Sea in 2016 and began functioning as Turkey’s third LNG regasification terminal. A new jetty on the terminal can receive LNG carriers of up to 217,000 capacity and the jetty allows two vessels to be moored in a double-banked configuration so a visiting tanker can transfer its cargo via an STS operation.
With this FSRU already in operation, the addition of MOL FSRU Challenger will give Turkey an impressive LNG regasification capacity to keep up with the country’s increasing demand. Capacity like this will allow Turkey to diversify where it buys its gas, get the best price by buying at high volumes and ensure its energy security in the future.
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