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Poster PO-35

OPTIMIZATION OF SKIKDA LNG PLANT OPERATION USING A


MIXED NON-LINEAR PROGRAMMING MODEL

OPTIMISATION DES REGIMES D’EXPLOITATION DE L’USINE DE


LIQUEFACTION DE SKIKDA PAR UN MODELE DE
PROGRAMMATION NON LINEAIRE EN VARIABLES MIXTES
Abdelhakim Ainouche
Engineer in gas processing
Sonatrach-TRC-RTH-Hassi R’mel – Algeria
BP 87 Hassi R’mel – Laghouat 03300 Algeria
ainouche_hakim@yahoo.fr

ABSTRACT
Algeria is one of the largest worldwide exporters of liquefied natural gas. LNG plants
are characterized by their relatively low number and very high investment and operating
costs. The high operating costs of this type of facilities are mainly due to the fuel
consumption of liquefaction plants which in stable operating reaches about 15% . In
presence of important fluctuations of the demand, the energy consumption increases in a
significant manner. These fluctuations are owed to the nature of the market evolution
characterized by the confirmation more and more important of the spot market. In this
context there is place to define an approach to optimize LNG plant operation taking into
account :
• All the susceptible actions to assure the maximal flexibility of the system (LNG
plant, LNG storage, port);
• The random nature of deliveries toward LNG tankers;
• The stocks level of LNG;
• The different possibilities of regulation of the liquefaction unit (stop of one or
several liquefaction trains, recycle or operating at partial load).
For this, a non-linear programming model with mixed variables was implemented
enabling to minimize the whole of energy and maintenance costs as well as assuring the
delivery of all the required LNG amounts.
An application of the model developed on the Skikda plant GL1K will be given.

RESUME
L’Algérie est l’un des plus grands exportateurs mondiaux de gaz naturel liquéfié. Les
usines de GNL se caractérisent par leur nombre relativement réduit et des coûts
d’investissement et d’exploitation très élevés. Les coûts d’exploitation élevés de ce type
d’installation sont principalement dus à la consommation propre des unités de
liquéfaction qui en fonctionnement stable atteint environ 15%. En présence de
fluctuations importantes de la demande, la consommation d’énergie augmente d’une
manière significative. Ces fluctuations sont dues à la nature de l’évolution du marché
caractérisé par la confirmation de plus en plus importante du marché spot. Dans ce

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contexte il y a lieu de définir une approche d’optimisation des régimes d’exploitation


d’une usine de GNL tenant compte de :
• Toutes les actions susceptibles d’assurer la flexibilité maximale du système (usine
GNL, stockage GNL, port) ;
• La nature aléatoire des livraisons vers les méthaniers ;
• Le niveau des stocks de GNL ;
• Les différentes possibilités de régulation de l’unité de liquéfaction ( arrêt d’un ou
plusieurs trains de liquéfaction, recyclage ou fonctionnement à charge partielle).
Pour cela, un modèle de programmation non linéaire en variables mixtes à été mis au
point permettant de minimiser l’ensemble des coûts d’énergie et de maintenance tout en
assurant la livraison de toutes les quantités de GNL requises.
Une application du modèle développé sur l’usine GL1K de Skikda sera donnée.

INTRODUCTION
The natural gas is an energy in full expansion. During the last three decades, the
worldwide market of the natural gas has more than doubled. A rise of the natural gas
production in the world is anticipated because of projects of exploration and expansion
planned in forecasting of a strong future demand. With the increased demand of natural
gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is emerging as an important source of natural gas and
getting a second look as a fuel option in the world.
The Algeria historically played a pioneering role in the development of LNG industry
and the global LNG trade. Algeria was the world’s first LNG producer in 1964. It now
boast four LNG plants owned and operated by Sonatrach, with a total capacity of 51
million m3 of LNG and understands perfectly how to manage these complexes. From a
maritime point of view, Sonatrach manages a fleet of six gas carriers with an overall
capacity of 679, 000 m3 of LNG. Algeria was the second – largest exporter of LNG
behind Indonesia. Most of its exports were to Europe and US. The perspectives of excess
liquefaction capacities bound to the coming on line of new trains on a given number of
plants through the world will ineluctably influence on the future evolution of the LNG
market.
The world of LNG is changing rapidly. There are new markets, new supply sources,
and new players. The LNG market, characterized until now by long term contracts of the
“take or pay” type, will tend to change. This will result mainly in the quest by the
customers of a larger flexibility in the contracts and the multiplication of spot deliveries.
This spot, or short-term trade has grown from 1.3% of total world exports in 1992 to
nearly 5% in 2000. The emergence of the spot market is due to several factors, including
excess capacity in new projects, which is available until purchasers take full volumes; an
increasing number of buyers and sellers: and the availability of capacity at terminal. Short
– term trade was already increasing because of demand expansion in Europe and the US
and spot trading was growing through regional exchanges. Consequently LNG chains,
characterized by some rigidity must anticipate those evolutions and include new
organization forms of their exploitation [1].

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The natural gas liquefaction plants are characterized by :


• their relatively low number (about 22 units in the world, 4 of which are in Algeria);
• very important unit production capacities quantified in billion of m3 ;
• very high investment and operating costs passing on heavily on the cost of the
produced LNG m3.
The high operating costs of this type of facilities are mainly due to the fuel
consumption, which in stable functioning reaches 15%. In presence of important
fluctuations of the demand, the energy consumption increases in a significant manner.
These fluctuations are owed to the nature of the market evolution characterized by the
confirmation more and more important of the spot market. In this context there is place to
define an approach to optimize LNG plant operation taking into account :
• The random nature of deliveries toward LNG tankers;
• The stocks level of LNG;
• The different possibilities of regulation of the liquefaction unit (stop of one or
several liquefaction trains, recycle or operating at partial load).
Theoretically, the LNG storage enables to reduce those disruptions. However, more
the fluctuations on deliveries are important, more the necessary theoretically storage
capacities increase. Unfortunately, from a technical point of view, the storage capacities
are limited in volume mainly because of the high construction costs. For a fixed storage
volume, the only resort remains the optimization of operations of the plant taking into
account all the susceptible actions to assure the maximal flexibility of the system (LNG
plant, storage, port). For this, a non-linear programming model with mixed variables was
implemented enabling to minimize the whole of energy and maintenance costs as well as
assuring the delivery of all the required LNG amounts.

DESCRIPTION OF THE LNG PLANT HASSI R'MEL - SKIKDA:


The LNG plant Hassi R'mel - Skikda is constituted mainly ( figure 1 ):

Teal

Teal
Natural Gas storage
Teal

Prico

Prico

Prico

Figure 1. The LNG Plant Hassi R’ mel – Skikda

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• of the Skikda LNG plant (GL1K). The function of this plant is to bring the natural
gas to sufficiently low temperatures, about –162°C, so that gas can operate a
change of phase and can pass from the gaseous state to the liquid state. It is
composed of 6 liquefaction trains, 3 using the PRICO process and the 3 others the
TEAL process of two pressure levels;
• of a storage capacity comprising five cryogenic tanks
• of one landing stage of LNG comprising 2 loading platforms of 4 arms each.

SINGLE REFRIGERANT WITH ONE PRESSURE “PRICO PROCESS”


The PRICO process, developed and perfected by Pritchard Rhodes uses one single
refrigerant fluid with one process (figure 2). This refrigerant fluid is circulated by an axial
compressor. A Joule-Thompson expansion ensures the required temperature difference at
the cold end of the cryogenic exchangers. The refrigerant composition enables to obtain a
temperature curve of refrigerant vaporization, parallel to the temperature curve of natural
gas condensation and to obtain thus, the most favorable energetic efficiency. At the
discharge of the compressor, the refrigerant is cooled at 30°C in seawater exchangers.
The heavy hydrocarbons condense (around 30% of the total flow rate) and are separated
from the vapor phase in the discharge separator. The liquid and vapor phases of the
refrigerant are then remixed at the entrance of exchangers.
8
2

5
1
3

4 6

NG

LNG
7

1- turbo compressor, 2- condenser, 3- separator, 4- refrigerant pump,


5- Joule-Thompson valve, 6- flash vessel, 7- LNG pump, 8- refrigerant exchanger

Figure 2. Simplified scheme of PRICO process

INCORPORATED CASCADE WITH TWO PRESSURES “TEAL PROCESS”


This process issued from the associations of the societies Technip and Air-liquid, was
retained for the three first units of the GL1K plant at Skikda Algeria. With the process
TEAL, the temperature gradient is obtained from an only one refrigerant fluid containing
Nitrogen and hydrocarbons of the same nature as those contained in the natural gas to be
liquefied (figure 3). This refrigerant fluid operates at 4 cooling stages, or cascade,
obtained by four successive expansions. After the last expansion, the refrigerant fluid
comes back to the compressor at two different suction pressures (5,1 bar and 0,6 bar).
As it is question of a mixture, each of the four cooling steps generates a liquid phase,
that we expand to produce the cold and a vapor phase which, after partial condensation
feeds the following step. From a step to step, the four liquid phases (L1, L2, L3, L4) are

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lighter and lighter and their boiling temperature lower and lower. Then the process TEAL
consists to produce, in a continuous manner four refrigerant fluids of different
composition and thermodynamic characteristics.

LNG 1 2
L4

L3

L2

L1
NG

6
3 5

1- Low pressure column, 2- medium pressure column, 3- LP body of the compressor, 4- HP body
of the compressor, 5- seawater exchanger, 6- seawater condenser

Figure 3. Simplified scheme of TEAL process

OPTIMIZATION MODEL OF AN LNG PLANT


The expansion of the spot transactions is a relatively recent and spectacular evolution
of the worldwide trade of LNG. The deregulation of the energy market and the
emergence of the short-term market requires a bigger flexibility of the chain in order to
optimize the functioning of transport and production infrastructures. The flexibility of the
chain is considerably reduced by the unforeseeable and uncheckable risk presence linked
to the fluctuations of the demand and the technical state of the pipeline supplying the
LNG plant. Indeed, a failure occurring on a compression station of a pipeline and
resulting in itself by a decrease of the transit flow rate of the pipeline, will have a direct
repercussion on the normal operating of liquefaction units. It the most often result in the
voluntary stop of one or several liquefaction trains or a functioning to partial load of the
whole of the unit prejudicial in term of efficiency. Some frequent starts-up/stops of
liquefaction trains are not only prejudicial in term of reliability but also in term of energy
over consumption. In fact during the start-up operations of a liquefaction train we record
additional losses of energy without production of finished products [2].
The liquefaction plant of Skikda (GL1K) has 6 trains of different nominal liquefaction
capacities, 3 using the PRICO process and the 3 others the TEAL process with two
pressure levels. One estimates that the starting of a liquefaction train result in the loss of
about 4 million of thermies. The flexibility of the LNG chain can be improved by the
installation in upstream of liquefaction units, of an underground storage of sufficient
capacity (figure 5). In fact, the underground storages have been extensively developed
and their capacities increased in large proportion. The underground storages are active

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elements that can play a role of regulator even when there is no failure. The presence of
an underground storage introduces a supplementary number of liberty degree. By this fact
it allows the choice of the most economic exploitation regimes. Besides, the flow rate not
being directly linked to the demand anymore, the number of stops and starts-up of turbo-
compressors is reduced considerably. Which enables to increase the life duration of the
equipment and the reduction of maintenance costs. These reserves can be geographically
placed in a favorable place from economic point of view, when the geological conditions
themselves are suitable.
The real capacity of an LNG plant can be different than the nominal capacity, this,
because of constraints linked to the demand or the maintenance of liquefaction trains.
However these plants can operate beyond the design capacity. Most plants have effective
capacities largely higher than those of design. A number of 110 to 120% is not unusual.
However, beyond the nominal capacity, the fuel consumption increases considerably
(figure 4).

CE

0.15

q i

0.5 1.1
q nom
1

Figure 4. Profile of the specific energy consumption

The specifique energy consumption can be expressed mathematically as this :


2
⎛ q ⎞
CE qj ( ) = α + β ⎜ nomj − 1 ⎟
⎜q ⎟ (1)
⎝ j ⎠
qnom
j : nominal capacity of train j ;
q j : production flow rate of the train j
α ;β : constants to identify.

GENERAL FORMULATION OF THE PROBLEM


The problem to solve consists in defining the optimal operation enabling to minimize
the whole of energy costs and the number of starts-up / stops as well as assuring the
delivery of all required LNG amounts.

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Vst+

Vst−
Q0(t ) Q S (t)

q1 q2 q3 q4 q5 q6

T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6

Qp
TT δ Qg
Qg Qpipe

SS

Figure 5. General scheme of LNG plant with 6 trains

The objective function is expressed as follows:

( ) ( )
T n T n
Min Z = C E ∑ ∑ aij qij + C S ∑ ∑ ABS aij − a i −1 j
(2)
i =1 j =1 i = 1 j =1

T : period of planning (scheduling)


n : number of liquefaction trains
aij : binary variable
CS : cost of a start-up/stop

• Constraints on the production flow rate of the LNG units in relation with the risk
of stock outage:
n

∑a q
j =1
ij ij
≥ VS− − Vi −1 + QSi for all i varying from 1 to T (3)

• Constraints on the production flow rate of the LNG units in relation with the risk
of over stock :

∑a q
j =1
ij ij
≤ VS+ − Vi −1 + QSi for all i varying from 1 to T (4)

• Constraints on pumping flow rates


n

∑a q
j =1
ij ij
= Q oi for all i varying from 1 to T (5)

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• Constraints of flow rate conservation


( )
n

∑j =1
aij ⋅qij = 1 Q gi − q gi − δ Q g
K
for all i varying from 1 to T (6)

• limitation of the trains capacity:


qij
0,5≤ nom ≤1,1 for all i and all j (7)
qj
• limitation of the plant capacity with the presence of underground storage:
Qgi ≤ QSS
max
for all i varying from 1 to T (8)

• with no underground storage, the previous constraint is replaced by:


Qgi = Qpipe for all i varying from 1 to T (9)

Q0(t ) : production flow rate of LNG


Vst+ : maximal storage level
Vst− : minimal storage level
Vi −1 : state of stocks at the instant i-1
K , coefficient of methane expansion
δ Qg : flow rate of the heavy fractions of the natural gas
qg : fuel consumption of liquefaction trains
TT : module of treatment
SS : underground storage

TECHNIQUE OF RESOLUTION
Formulation presented in the preceding paragraph comes back to two non-linear
programming problems of big dimension (with and without underground storage) with
simultaneous presence of real and binary variables. Their resolution can be obtained by
mean of a non-linear programming algorithm of generalized reduced gradient type (GRG)
associated to a procedure of « branch and bound » type to take into account the presence
of binary variables.

CONCLUSION
The part more and more important of the short-term market and risks that it induces,
require a bigger flexibility of the LNG chain. Liquefaction plants are very big energy
consumers technological systems. The reduction of the fuel consumption passes by the
use of optimization technique based on the criterion of the minimum of energy
consumption or equivalent criteria. The modeling procedure presented in this work
enables to define optimal operation of an LNG plant composed of several liquefaction
trains by the turn to account of a non-linear programming algorithm of (GRG) type
associated to a procedure of « branch and bound » type.

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REFERENCES CITED
[1] Ainouche, A., Smati, A., Optimization of LNG chain by stochastic dynamic
programming model, 17th World Petroleum Congress, Rio de Janeiro, September 2002
[2] Ainouche, A., Smati, A., Younsi, K., Djemmaa, A., Reliability of LNG and natural
gas transmission chain, 17th World Petroleum Congress, Rio de Janeiro, September 2002

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Duran, M.a., Grossman I., A mixed integer nonlinear programming algorithm for
process systems synthesis, AICHE j.,32(4), 1986.
2. Edgar, T.F, Himmelblau, D.M, Optimization of chemical processes, McGRAW-HILL
1988.
3. Legras J., Algorithmes et programmes d’optimisation non linéaire avec contraintes,
Masson, 1980.

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