April 5, 2018 / 8:11 AM / 7 months ago

Exxon imports LNG to keep tanks cool at Papua New Guinea plant

* LNG meant to avoid lengthy recooling period when plant restarts

* Small amount of gas to fuel plant's gas turbine generators

* Generators supply some of Port Moresby's power demand

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE, April 5 (Reuters) - ExxonMobil said on Thursday that it has imported a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to keep tanks cold at its Papua New Guinea LNG facilities near the capital Port Moresby, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

The imported LNG will help maintain the temperature of the company's LNG tanks and marine terminal loading facilities to avoid a lengthy recooling period when it restarts, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Exxon's PNG LNG export plant was shut in late February after a powerful earthquake disrupted feed-gas supplies from the gas-producing Highlands region.

"In addition, a small amount of gas is used as a fuel source for the plant's gas turbine generators, which help keep the plant in safe operating condition," the spokeswoman said.

The generators are also continuing to supply some of Port Moresby's power demand, she said.

"The purchase of this cargo does not reflect a change in our earlier projection of eight weeks for return to production," she added.

Reuters reported in March that Exxon bought an LNG cargo for early April delivery to keep the LNG plant cool.

Stopping the liquefaction process which condenses gas into liquid at minus 162 degrees Celsius causes LNG plants to warm up, requiring cargoes to be imported to keep cryogenic tanks and equipment operational.

The 172,000-cubic metre capacity LNG tanker Kumul, custom-built for the PNG LNG project, is currently moored at the terminal, after discharging a cargo on Thursday, Thomson Reuters Eikon shiptracking data showed.

The 170,000-cubic metre capacity LNG tanker Papua is currently anchored near Port Moresby, according to the data. Traders said this tanker could be standing by ready to load once an export cargo is available, though this could not be officially confirmed with Exxon.

Exxon said in February, before the earthquake, that together with its partners, France's Total SA and Australia's Oil Search Ltd, it plans to almost double the facility's export capacity to 16 million tonnes per year.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.

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