International LNG import terminals head offshore, EIA says

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Offshore LNG import terminals have gone international, as a number of smaller importers are hoping to use the floating facilities to bridge the gap until onshore facilities can be built, according to a government report.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday that of the four countries planning to start LNG imports in 2015, three have chosen to do so using offshore facilities. Those facilities, known as regasification plants because they take liquefied natural gas and return it to a gas fuel, are in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt.

The floating regasification facilities can be developed more quickly than onshore facilities of comparable size and can be moved around to serve other areas once larger projects are in place, the EIA said. The agency said it tracked 16 floating storage and regasification units — vessels used to process and store LNG — and five permanently moored offshore regasification units across the globe.

The building boom has given floating regasification a larger share of the overall LNG import market. Currently, the offshore facilities represent about 9 percent of the market, up from about 1.5 percent in 2007. Total global regasification capacity has increased from about 50 billion cubic feet per day in 2006 to more than 100 billion cubic feet per day in 2015, EIA figures show.