Conoco And Mitsui Group Verify Feasibility Of Floating Methanol Plant

The technical and economic feasibility of a floating methanol plant has been verified in a joint study by Continental Oil Company (Conoco), High Ridge Park, Stamford, Conn. 06904, and a Tokyo group of Mitsui companies consisting of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Toyo Engineering Corporation, and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

The concept was advanced as a means of developing natural gas reserves in remote offshore areas. Such a floating plant would convert natural gas into the liquid, methanol, at the production site for transshipment by tankers.

In a joint announcement, the firms said they have been proceeding since March 1976, with a study on a plant of 2,200-tonsper- day capacity. "This study, which is almost complete, confirms that a floating plant is technically feasible and more economical than land-based construction," they stated.

Their research stemmed from earlier studies performed separately by Conoco and the Japanese group. Conoco's studies, initiated in 1972, sought development of methods to develop gas fields too remote or too small to justify pipeline installations to shore. Studies by the Japanese group in 1974, based on a 1,000- ton-per-day plant, "obtained satisfactory results as to its technical and economic possibilities." The joint study covered delivery systems to the plant, the question of converting a used tanker or building a new barge, detailed design of plant and vessel, transportation of methanol products, and potential methanol utilization.

The group listed three key advantages : where pipeline construction is uneconomic such a plant could be transferred from field to field; it could be built to exacting specifications in a shipyard, avoiding potential delays and the difficulties and higher costs of building a facility in a remote offshore area; and it would obviate the need for large investments in harbors, roads and related shore facilities.

Both Conoco and the Mitsui group are considering the possibility of making more definitive studies, especially of aspects not considered in detail in the study.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 4,  May 15, 1977

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