A 900-tonne steel dome has been raised to the top of a liquefied natural gas tank in Queensland for  the first time, marking a milestone for the state’s gas industry. The roof was elevated inside the Queensland Curtis LNG project’s 38-metre-high tank on Curtis Island near Gladstone, which is on track to be the first to be completed in the state. Mechanical fans placed under the dome, which at 79 metres wide is broader than a rugby league pitch, raised the steel roof by increasing air pressure only enough to inflate a party balloon.

QGC roof_lift_bThe slow and steady process of the three-hour lift was monitored by a team of engineers to ensure an even rise. At the end of the operation welders attached the roof to a steel ring  embedded in the concrete tank walls. The roof will now be covered with concrete. The interior of the tank will be insulated and lined with nickel steel to keep the gas liquefied at minus 162 degrees Celsius.

Four pumps will be installed to transfer LNG to a jetty, where the gas will be loaded on to a specially built vessel for transport to Asia-Pacific markets from 2014. QCLNG Project Director Mitch Ingram said a second tank was at an advanced stage of construction.

“The roof lift is not only a remarkable engineering feat, requiring precision and exceptional teamwork, but signals that our project is well on the way to producing first LNG in 2014,” Mr Ingram said. “First gas is expected to be delivered to the LNG plant around the end of the year to enable the start of commissioning.”

Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, Inc., the construction contractor for the QCLNG plant, began building the first tank 15 months ago. Progress elsewhere on the LNG plant continues, with 49 of 80 modules initially required having now left Thailand, 24 of which have been delivered to Curtis Island.

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