In a recent update, Freeport LNG Development said that as of 14th November, the reconstruction work necessary to commence initial operations was around 90% complete.
All of the reconstruction work was anticipated to be completed by the end of November and subject to Freeport meeting the regulatory requirements, initial production is targeted for mid-December.
The reconstruction work will lead to the utilisation of all three liquefaction trains, two LNG storage tanks and one dock.
Proposed remedial work activities for a safe restart of initial operations have been submitted to the relevant regulatory agencies for review and approval.
Each of Freeport LNG's three liquefaction trains will be restarted and ramped up safely, in a slow and deliberate manner, with each train starting separately before restarting a subsequent train.
It is expected that about 2 bill cu ft per day of production will be achieved in January, 2023. Full production utilising both docks remained on course to start in March, 2023, Freeport said.
"Our teams have worked diligently over the last several months alongside regulators to ensure the safe restart of our facility. I am immensely grateful for their efforts," said Michael Smith, Freeport LNG’s Founder, Chairman and CEO. "We are committed to moving forward with an uncompromising safety focus and enhanced operational processes that will enable us to chart a safe, sustainable path forward to serve our customers and the broader LNG market as a whole."
Last week, Freeport LNG Development divulged the results of an independent, third-party root cause failure analysis (RCFA) report on the incident.
The report was commissioned by Freeport LNG and independently conducted by the IFO Group in order to identify the causes.
The IFO’s findings were as follows:
Direct Cause - Isolation of a piping segment containing cryogenic LNG without proper overpressure protection, which LNG then warmed and expanded, due to exposure to ambient conditions, resulting in a boiling liquid, expanding vapour explosion, or BLEVE, and the rupturing of the piping segment.
Root Causes - Pressure safety valve (PSV) testing procedure and car seal programme deficiencies.
. Failure to re-purpose temperature indicator alarms used for cool down operations during commissioning on LNG piping that could warn operators of increasing temperatures in LNG piping during operations.
. Operating procedures that allowed operator discretion to close valves that could allow LNG to be isolated in a piping segment.
Contributing Causes - Failure of 2016 Hazard and Operability study to evaluate the potential for a blocked-in LNG piping segment with inadequate overpressure protection.
. Failure to utilise management of change process for revisions to tank management operating procedures.
. Failure to accurately and timely diagnose sudden pipe movement as being due to piping stresses from the over-pressuring of an adjacent piping segment.
. Operator fatigue as a result of significant overtime needs.
IFO Group proposed recommendations to resolve each of the root and contributing causes, and Freeport LNG is implementing each of those recommendations, the company claimed.
Specifically, Freeport LNG said that it had made significant enhancements to its PSV testing processes and car seal programme, implemented procedural changes to avoid operating scenarios that could allow blocked-in LNG in piping segments, and revised its control system logic to alert control room operators to valve positions or temperature readings that indicate possible isolation of LNG in any piping segments.
It is also updating its training programme to address causes of the incident, as well as identification and diagnosis of abnormal operating conditions in the facility.
To supplement IFO's report, Freeport LNG also engaged another independent consultant to perform a full review of its LNG storage and transfer operating procedures, its control systems maintenance and inspection procedures, and its personnel qualifications and training programmes.
As a result, Freeport LNG is implementing various recommended improvements in these areas.
In addition, Freeport LNG has undertaken a significant hiring effort to increase LNG plant employee staffing by over 30%, in order to reduce the amount of overtime, as well as create new functional departments within the organisation that are focused on improved training, operational excellence, quality assurance, and improved business performance.
Freeport LNG is also executing an extensive company-wide process safety management initiative to apply and reinforce process safety concepts into daily work processes across the organisation.