Rising demand for gas in Europe, declining imports from the North Sea and a growing geographical distance between producer and consumer regions... The growth in global gas trading is accelerating. This rapid expansion of international flows is being accompanied by equally rapid growth in the marine shipping of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
So what are the benefits compared with building more gas pipelines? The answer is greater flexibility of supply and lower costs over distances of 3,000+ km. The LNG chain also allows gas to be shipped safely where transmission by pipeline is impossible or where the distance between its point of production and point of consumption is too great.
The construction of the Dunkerque LNG terminal is a direct response to these new challenges.
Liquefied natural gas is natural gas that has been cooled to a temperature of around -163°C, at which point it becomes liquid. LNG occupies 600 times less space than the gas itself, which makes it possible for it to be shipped over very large distances from those regions where it is produced to those where it is consumed.
Facilities and installations
Occupying a 56 ha site alongside Dunkirk's Western Harbour, the Dunkerque LNG terminal offers:
a jetty large enough to enable the unloading/reloading of the largest LNG carriers (267,000m3) at a maximum flow rate of 14,000 m3 per hour for unloading and 4,000 m3 per hour for reloading. The Dunkerque LNG terminal is currently being modified to enable a maximum reloading flow rate of 8,800 m3 (LNG) per hour
3 storage tanks, each capable of storing 190,000 m3 of LNG at -163°C
10 Open Rack Vaporizers (ORV) or regasifiers to raise the temperature of the LNG and enable it to return to its natural gas state ready to be sent out into the supply network
a 5 km tunnel between the discharge canal of the Gravelines nuclear power plant and the terminal – to carry some of the heated cooling water discharged by the power plant for use in reheating the LNG in the ORVs
The Dunkerque LNG terminal will have an annual regasification capacity of 13 billion m3 of gas, which is sufficient to meet approximately 20% of annual consumption in France and Belgium, making it the largest terminal of its kind in Continental Europe. It is also the only terminal to be connected directly to 2 markets – France and Belgium – using 2 separate pipelines.
Upon commissioning, the terminal will be operated by Gaz-Opale, a company 51% owned by Dunkerque LNG and 49% by the Belgian group of companies Fluxys. The operator will therefore bring all its specialised operational and safety skills to the ongoing operation of the Dunkirk terminal.