The 18th international conference and exhibition on LNG is running throughout this week from 11th-15th April in Perth, Australia. Current and significant impacts on the world’s LNG industry are looming large, with the global event providing a stage for companies within the sector to shine.
gasworld is bringing you an exclusive interview with a major player in the LNG industry for each day of the conference. Today’s interview is with Patrick Ravinel, General Manager of ACD Cryo, who explains why his European outfit believes LNG is the major growth driver for its products – and why it is targeting Russia in particular.
How is ACD involved in the LNG18 event?
The event is very important for ACD and we have participated in the last three conferences, so we will have a booth. Our attendance at this event is on a corporate level, so members from the US attending together with members from our Australian operations. Here, we’re more focused on Europe and expanding our presence in Russia, but we will be at the gasworld conference in Düsseldorf in June. As a group, we feel that we need to be at these events – they are big shows.
It is a big opportunity for the group to meet the key decision makers involved in the LNG business and it is an excellent venue for us to share our technical expertise and new products to the industry.
With regards to other events, we are going to the Cryogen-Expo in Moscow (1st-3rd November) later this year. It is exciting because Russia is going to be a key player in the developing LNG industry. They just started up two or three natural gas liquefaction plants and will develop the whole of Russia throughout the sector. There are still some restrictions on selling to Russia, so hopefully we won’t have to embargo our equipment, but we see a massive potential market.
What technological trends are driving progress within the LNG sector?
The LNG market is still driving growth, especially with regards to small-scale applications. Everything related to liquid distribution is developing very quickly, which includes filling stations for trucks and buses, bunkering stations to fuel ships and barges, as well as railway locomotive fuelling. Everything related to transporting LNG is growing today. LNG in the past was typically only transported in large quantities, but today we feel the growth is directed more towards smaller units and smaller-sized projects. LNG is becoming the day-to-day fuel.
LNG in the past was typically only transported in large quantities, but today we feel the growth is directed more towards smaller units and smaller-sized projects. LNG is becoming the day-to-day fuel
We still see the main demand for our business staying in the LNG sector. Concerning air gases, Europe is a mature market and continues to be our core business, but at the moment, we don’t see many new projects going on – yes, there is the potential for some reinvention, but if we are talking about growth drivers, then I believe that is down to LNG. However, it is not developing as quickly as we would hope because of the low oil price.
The field which is still driving growth is the transition from diesel to LNG as the fuel of choice, in order to meet new environmental regulations. This is particularly important in marine applications where NOx and SOx emissions will become more restricted as we approach 2020. We are supplying pumps to land-based installations, like trains, trucks and buses, but the growth is slower there due to the indecisiveness surrounding substantial emissions reductions.
Where do you see the biggest potential for growth for ACD?
We still think the LNG sector shows the most potential for the biggest growth. I don’t think the oil price level will remain so low, maybe it will last for the next one or two years, but there will be growth in the railway, truck and bus filling stations in land-based applications, and the bunkering side will continue to grow especially in Spain, Italy and the Baltic area. The very first ship fuelled by LNG is now in service off the coast of Florida, of which the high pressure fuel gas system incorporates ACD’s MSP-SL reciprocating pumps. It is also worth mentioning that there are competing technologies in ship propulsion – some are leading the market with high pressure systems in the vicinity of 300 bar, with others at lower pressures under 20 bar. ACD has been successful in securing orders for over 40 LNG marine fuelling systems and pumps for both high and low pressure applications. As the industry becomes more familiar with the safe handling of LNG, I think the marine side will grow drastically as a fuel gas.
We are in the process of developing the next generation of high pressure reciprocating pumps specifically tailored for LNG marine for fuel gas systems. Initially, we started out in this market with pumps that were designed for industrial gas applications, but the operating conditions of LNG pumps are not the same as the industrial gas pumps. It is a different market with some very unique requirements that the new generation pumps will address.
What challenges lie ahead for ACD as it continues to carve out growth in this sector?
With industrial gases it’s different, because the customers historically know how to operate our pumps, whereas with LNG customers it is a completely new product
I think the biggest challenge is to understand this complex market in its multitude of applications and number of players. Regularly, we learn of new applications and new companies that are in the LNG business or looking to enter it – not to mention the geographic locations which literally expand around the globe. With industrial gases it’s different, because the customers historically know how to operate our pumps, whereas with LNG customers it is a completely new product.
Our challenge is to attempt to reach and be able to talk to this diversified customer base, which is spread from remote corners of the world to the largest capital cities. In spite of the complexity of this market and us being new entrants, we have already sold nearly 200 units worldwide.