Celebrating its 40th anniversary, SIGTTO is focused on the future of gas shipping, helping to ensure safe operations remain a hallmark of the rapidly expanding LNG industry
On 10 September in London, SIGTTO held its Liquefied Gas Shipping Forum followed by an evening reception celebrating the 40th anniversary of the organisation. At the forum and subsequent reception on the top floor of Sea Containers House on the river Thames, many of SIGTTO’s present and past personnel contributed their unique memories and recollections of the development and growth of the organisation and gas carrier industry over the last four decades. The forum was held in conjunction with London International Shipping Week.
It was a unique occasion and an honour as the society’s eighth general manager to introduce the forum and moderate the first panel of LNG industry stalwarts, including three past general managers and two technical advisors from SIGTTO’s earliest days.
Among the luminaries on hand was Robin Gray, the organisation’s second general manager, serving from 1985-1991, who stole the show with his sharp memory and recollection of events and stories during his tenure as GM. Mr Gray was joined by two of the society’s seven past chairmen, Bill Wayne (2007-2012) and James McHardy (2003-2007).
Three of the society’s seven past general managers are no longer with us, namely Maurice Holdsworth (1979-1985), Alain Vaudolon (1995-1998) and John Gyles (1998-2003). Bruce Keer (1991-1995), the society’s third general manager, was unable to attend. Alain’s wife Therese was present at the reception.
Among Mr Gray’s recollections were the main topics taken up at the first technical meetings. These were: contingency planning, ship/shore linked emergency shutdown, safe havens, cargo strainers and training.
It is interesting to note that these safety and operational topics are still relevant and are addressed by SIGTTO’s general purpose committee at its biannual meetings. When the society was founded in 1979, there were about 50 LNG carriers and 150 LPG carriers in service.
Now, the global fleet of LPG carriers and chemical tankers has swollen to 1,450 vessels and the LNG carrier fleet, propelled by the rapid expansion in the LNG trade, exceeds 600 vessels. Most of these vessels have been added in the last 15 years.
In 2018, the global LNG trade set a record for the fifth consecutive year, reaching 316.5M tonnes. What is clear is that despite the growth of LNG shipping, safe operations remain a hallmark. The LNG shipping fleet has completed over 100,000 voyages without a breach of a containment system.
A week after the SIGTTO Liquefied Gas Shipping Forum, the LNG industry gathered in Houston at the Gastech 2019 conference and exhibition. Three key takeaways from Gastech were gas transition, including hydrogen, gas demand growth and the changing structure of the LNG industry. For gas shipping, floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) and floating LNG vessels (FLNGs) were central topics. One panel discussed how FSRUs can provide a relatively quick solution for emerging economies that need gas to meet their domestic power needs.
Other topics trending at Gastech were recent developments in more efficient LNG carrier propulsion systems, small-scale LNG and LNG as a marine fuel. The growth in the LNG trade is underpinned by global governmental policies as countries move away from coal towards cleaner, lower carbon-intensive power generation. LNG is also price competitive, putting it front and centre in any discussion about energy. Clearly, there is much for the LNG industry to celebrate.
In conjunction with SIGTTO’s 40th anniversary, the organisation published the commemorative publication SIGTTO at 40 years, overseen and edited by Mike Corkhill. Free copies are available from SIGTTO and several of the organisation’s members have chosen to put a copy on each of their ships. Please e-mail SIGTTO at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how many copies you wish to have of this publication.
Andrew Clifton is general manager and chief operating officer of SIGTTO (The Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators Ltd)