New Fortress Energy Turns Maersk Jack-Up Rigs Into Offshore LNG Plants

maersk gallant rig
Image courtesy Maersk

Published May 17, 2021 1:32 AM by The Maritime Executive

Natural gas equipment and logistics company New Fortress Energy has purchased two Maersk Drilling jackup rigs, and it says that it plans to convert them into mobile LNG liquefaction plants. 

In an all-cash $31 million deal, New Fortress bought the laid-up rigs Maersk Guardian and Maersk Gallant for refitting for its "Fast LNG" concept. This novel new approach to offshore gas field development takes a page from the floating LNG (FLNG) projects of the previous decade, but it uses a jack-up platform to carry the liquefaction equipment instead of a floating hull.

At just 1.4 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) in capacity, New Fortress' Fast LNG platforms will be smaller than the FLNG facilities of the past - and potentially more agile. A permanently moored FSU will serve as an LNG storage facility alongside the jackup. The objective is to create an offshore liquefaction capability that can be deployed "anywhere there is abundant and stranded natural gas." In addition to the rigs, New Fortress has also acquired Golar LNG Partners and its fleet of 13 LNG carriers, which will provide the company's "logistics backbone." 

“Our innovative Fast LNG liquefiers should allow us to produce LNG between an expected $3-4 MMBtu for our growing portfolio of terminals around the world,” said Wes Edens, New Fortress' CEO and chairman. "This technology can be installed quickly and cheaply to access stranded, low-cost natural gas at a fixed price to meet the global demand for more affordable, reliable and cleaner energy."

The repurposed rigs that will support this concept have been in service for well over 20 years. Guardian is an ultra-harsh environment jack-up delivered in 1986, and it has been warm-stacked in Denmark since last year. Maersk Gallant is an ultra-harsh environment jack-up delivered in 1993, and it has been cold-stacked in Scotland since 2017. 

For Maersk, the sale is an opportunity to divest of unused equipment and to shrink the oversupplied global pool of offshore rigs at the same time. "We’re also pleased that the rigs will be re-purposed and deployed by New Fortress Energy for a project which focuses on providing low-carbon affordable energy,” said CEO Jørn Madsen of Maersk Drilling.

Maersk Drilling’s fleet now stands at 12 jack-ups and eight floaters.