Expansion beyond traditional LNG trading brings new transfer applications, requiring new safety and interface standards for terminals and ships, according to experts speaking during a session on technology trends that focused on safety at Riviera’s LNG Ship-to-Shore Interface, Europe, virtual conference
Global demand for LNG for power generation, industrial applications and fuelling for road vehicles and vessels has led to the development of new terminals and new applications beyond traditional LNG trading, requiring new safety standards.
One of those relatively new applications “now being considered more seriously” with its increased exposure in the marine sector is ship-to-truck transfers, said Trelleborg Marine Systems technical director Andrew Stafford.
During a session on technology trends that focused on safety at Riviera’s LNG Ship-to-Shore Interface, Europe, virtual conference, held 19-20 November, Mr Stafford noted “Trucks almost seem to be the forgotten application,” saying that this element in the supply chain was finally receiving the attention it deserved.
Elsewhere however, Mr Stafford said that standardisation, while moving in the right direction – as with the implementation of ISO 28460 – was still an issue, particularly when it came to vessels of significantly different size or intended purpose.
“Smaller LNG carriers are installing five-pin SIGTTO links, which are typically required for LPG carriers,” he said. “[But] as these smaller LNG carriers find the need to trade with larger facilities or perform ship-to-ship with larger LNG carriers, it quickly becomes clear that the interfaces are not well adapted for large-scale applications, meaning link retrofits are required.”
He noted that bunker vessels, too, must consider their expected trading options. “They may be required to load from a traditional large-scale facility and hence require appropriate systems to connect and communicate accordingly,” he said, “but once loaded, they may well be discharging their cargo as bunker fuel to LNG-fuelled vessels, in effect becoming a terminal to the gas-fuelled ship.”
Such complexity means numerous regulatory requirements may need to be met, and these may all operate on different standards.
The problems in terms of cost, time and above all else safety, quickly become apparent.
Joining Mr Stafford at the session, senior product manager at Lankhorst Ropes Hans-Pieter Baaij addressed the issue of certification among rope manufacturers, querying whether all involved really appreciated the value of, and understood the detail contained within, such certification.
“When ropes are fully tested in accordance with the latest OCIMF MEG4 recommendations, rope manufacturers can state their test results on their own factory test certificates,” explained Mr Baaij. “This makes the certificate a very important document, but do we really understand the importance of the certificate? Do we know how to interpret it and how it can benefit the operation?”
Mr Baaij went on to highlight the key elements of the certification, explaining the importance of understanding the details to ensure safety across various conditions and working practices.
Also presenting during the session was TechnipFMC global services manager Gilles Seguier. He focused on the value gains that can be derived from preventive maintenance inspections, notably using remotely piloted aircraft. Mr Seguier explained that inspection by drone allowed data to be complemented with detailed visual information, helping to compile a near exhaustive maintenance report.
Specific to loading systems, he cited the key benefits of drone inspections as being downtime optimisation, anticipating maintenance before it becomes problematic and helping to keep jetties available for priority operations.
“The focus is to reduce the downtime of the equipment,” he said. “We can control our drones from a distance of 500 m, so the pilot and the inspector are far from the inspection area meaning constraints such as weather or environment are reduced.”
Mr Seguier added that using a drone, inspections can be completed up to 50 times faster than using conventional resources, with reports produced that are timelier and more accurate.