Laboratory Management

How LIMS Ensures Product Quality for Natural Gas

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The majority of samples are taken by operations staff and delivered to the laboratory. Laboratory staff typically train the senior operators and maintenance technicians to collect samples. Laboratory staff also collect special samples that require complex sampling techniques, such as two-phase samples and flue gas. The sampling and testing requirements are agreed on and scheduled with operations, engineering, environmental and technology departments to match production plans.

How Laboratory Management Helps to Ensure Product Quality

A laboratory handles the samples coming from upstream operations, through the LNG plant and the final products. The analyses of final products are performed when the LNG storage tanks are prepared and isolated or during the ship’s loading. When sufficient reproducible results are obtained, the mean and weight average composition are both calculated. The mean composition of each cargo is used to calculate density and gross heating value and all values are included on the Certificate of Quality.

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Any data required by the business is automatically available from the LIMS with sophisticated automatic data transfer. The LIMS is used to interface seamlessly with critical IT systems, such as PIMS (Plant Information Management Systems) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) for efficient reporting and documentation support.

The LIMS manages the data from thousands of samples required throughout the sampling stages and manages the quality determination of the final product that is shipped to each customer.

Industry Innovation for the World's Biggest Ship

Shell’s behemoth floating LNG (FLNG), the world’s biggest “ship,” will be anchored 200m off the coast of Australia in order to harvest natural gas from Shell’s Prelude field. Moving natural gas production and processing out to sea on a moving platform, where huge reservoirs of gas exist beneath the oceans, is a major innovation. Such a floating facility brings huge new energy resources within reach and avoids the potential environmental impact of constructing and operating a plant on land, including laying pipelines to shore and building other infrastructure. It does, however require that the entire platform is self sufficient for its day to day operations and can manage the collection, testing and distribution of the LNG produced.

In the same way that a land-based production facility operates, the gas is piped in, cooled to -161° C until it liquefies and stored in tanks. Chilling gas to -161° C turns it into liquid and shrinks its volume by 600 times, allowing it to be shipped to global locations where the energy is needed. Every six or seven days a huge tanker will dock beside the floating facility and load up fuel for transport to Japan, China, Korea or Thailand.

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