Production of natural gas is hot, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. This is music to the ears of Jim Rockwell, manager of our LNG Technology and Licensing team. “We’re busier now than we’ve ever been.” Through a long-term collaboration with Bechtel, the team licenses its Optimized Cascade® process (OCP), assists in the design and engineering of proposed plants, and provides customers with startup and ongoing operations support.
Spanning more than 5 decades of LNG innovation, ConocoPhillips has reliably developed key advances, from building the first LNG carrier for international trade to building one of the first successful commercial liquefaction facilities. Today, ConocoPhillips successfully operates facilities in Kenai, Alaska and Darwin, Australia, and we have licensed our proprietary LNG liquefaction process to operators on three continents. Our OCP team continues to set new standards in the design and operation of efficient and cost-effective LNG facilities.
The ConocoPhillips Optimized Cascade® Process is designed around a "two-trains-in-one" reliability concept that has been successfully proven in more than four decades of plant operation. Natural gas is first treated to remove contaminants including CO2, water and mercury before entering the liquefaction section of the plant. The treated gas is then chilled to approximately -260 degrees Fahrenheit in successively colder heat exchangers that use propane, ethylene and methane as refrigerants. Product leaving the methane exchangers is LNG ready for storage. The LNG product is then pumped into insulated storage tanks before being loaded on special ships to be transported to LNG import terminals around the world. At the receiving terminals the LNG is transferred to storage tanks, re-gasified and shipped via pipeline to domestic users.
Protecting the company’s intellectual property is critical to maintaining a competitive edge. “We aggressively file for patents,” said Gary Haag, a lawyer and chemical engineer involved in LNG licensing for more than 20 years. “We currently have a portfolio of over 500 patents and applications in more than 60 countries.”
Bringing their technology and expertise to our own projects such as Darwin and Australia Pacific LNG, our OCP team has given ConocoPhillips an edge in successfully completing and operating these complex facilities. “LNG technology licensing is our biggest success story in intellectual property,” said Mark Tompkins, technology program manager.
We currently have six projects under way in Angola, Australia and the United States.