The Sonatrach Skikda LNG plant and refinery (GL-1K complex), located 500km east of Algiers, have been in production since the early 1970s.
The plant, which is owned and operated by Sonatrach – Algeria’s state-owned oil and gas company – had grown to six trains by the 1990s with the last of these commissioned in 1981. The trains all received upgrades in the 1990s to bring them up to required specifications and the plant was capable of producing 7.68 million tonnes per year of LNG.
In April 2004 a routine boiler maintenance operation on train 40 went disastrously wrong due to insufficient purging of the boiler. An explosion destroyed three of the six trains and badly damaged one, killing 26 workers and injuring 74. The 335,000bpd capacity refinery and LNG plant were closed and investigations carried out. New plant designs eliminated the need for boilers, which have been replaced with more efficient gas-fuelled turbines and compressors.
The plant’s lucrative LNG supply contracts were transferred to other suppliers or left to stand because of a mild winter and the demand was not as great as expected (production fell by 76% during 2004).
Three of the six trains (20, 30 and 40) were completely destroyed, but the 10, 5P and 6P trains were brought back into production in November 2004. The three destroyed trains were replaced by one larger train.
LNG plant reconstruction
In January 2007 the contract for the demolition and the recovery of the remains of the Skikda petrochemical complex’s three gas liquefaction trains was signed with Delair Navarra.
KBR (Kellogg Brown & Root International) was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract in March 2007 for the new LNG train at Skikda. The contract has an approximate value of $2.8bn. In addition to performing the EPC work for the 4.5 million tonnes a year LNG train along with associated LPG and condensate recovery, KBR executed the pre-commissioning and commissioning portion of the contract.
Work began in July 2007 and was executed in Houston prior to moving to the Skikda site later in the year. In June 2005 a partnership of SNC Lavalin of Canada and Black & Veatch of the US was awarded a five-year project management consultancy (PMC) contract for the construction of the new LNG train at Skikda. The partnership will supervise the EPC contract on the 4.5 million tonnes a year train.
In June 2008 Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) was awarded two construction contracts by KBR for civil engineering works and piling installation for the new LNG train in Skikda. The contract represents one of the first packages of the Skikda LNG rebuilding programme. In addition the OCI / Trevi joint venture is responsible for the execution of the piling and installation work.
The civil construction contract for the new LNG train was scheduled for completion by August 2009, however, in 2009 the company announced that it would not begin deliveries from the plant until 2013. By 2009 the plant was 20% complete and 70% of the material had been procured.
“The new LNG train at Skikda will enable Sonatrach to increase and recapture its LNG production,” said Dr Abdelhafid Feghouli, Sonatrach Downstream executive vice president. This project award also demonstrates our commitment to the LNG business and to the Skikda community.”
The Skikda LNG complex is located on a 92ha site in Skikda, Algeria. Gas is sourced from the Hassi R’mel fields, which also supply the Bethioua and Arzew plants.
Trains 10, 20, 30 and 40 were located parallel to one another east of the LNG storage area consisting of five tanks. The two remaining units, known as trains 5P and 6P, were situated on the west side of the storage tanks and so were not affected by the explosion or the subsequent fire.
Skikda was built in three phases with the first three trains (units 10, 20 and 30) starting up in 1971 and 1973. These were built by Technip of France and used the TEAL liquefaction process.
Train 40, which was brought online in 1981 after a six-year delay, was built by Prichard Rhodes and represented Skikda’s second phase development. While it is directly adjacent to train 30 and used the utility systems installed in the first phase, train 40 was based on Prichard’s PRICO technology. Trains 5P and 6P also use the PRICO process and were also built by Prichard Rhodes. These two units began operating in 1981, some three to four years later than originally planned.
Trains 10, 20, 30 and 40 each had a design capacity of about 1.1 billion cubic metres a year (0.85 million tonnes a year). In contrast, trains 5P and 6P are larger with a design capacity of some 1.64 billion cubic metres a year (1.25 million tonnes a year) each. All six trains at Skikda were revamped as part of a modernisation programme completed in the late 1990s.