Ship manager Northern Marine had staff on both sides of the ship/shore interface to handle the recent inaugural cargo discharge at China’s first privately-owned LNG terminal, writes Selwyn Parker
When the Northern Marine-managed Stena Blue Sky delivered a commissioning cargo to ENN Energy’s new Xin’ao terminal at Zhoushan in Zhejiang province in August, it marked the opening of China’s first privately-owned LNG import terminal.
The arrival of the 2006-built, 145,500 m3 LNG carrier and the inauguration of the terminal turned out to be quite an occasion, attracting media attention as well as the attendance of five tugs, one ship from the Chinese navy and two coastguard vessels.
The ENN Zhoushan terminal is designed to receive up to 3M tonnes per annum of LNG. In addition to its import role it is also able to load LNG bunker vessels, LNG coastal distribution tankers and roro cargo ships carrying LNG road tankers and ISO tank containers dispatched from the facility’s vehicle-filling bays.
As Stena Blue Sky’s skipper, Capt Marko Skoric, explained, considerable responsibility is attached to delivering a commissioning cargo. Because every element of the terminal’s equipment is being put into operation for the first time, each step of the discharge had to be taken one at a time, including gassing up, cooling down and, finally, cargo transfer.
Glasgow-based Northern Marine Management (NMM), which is responsible for the technical management of Stena Blue Sky, was also present on the other side of the ship/shore interface during the terminal inauguration event. To back up the onboard crew, NMM had deployed several of its superintendents in onshore roles to assist terminal staff with the initial cargo-handling operation.
“The arrival of the LNG carrier and the inauguration of the terminal turned attracted media attention, five tugs, the Chinese navy and two coastguard vessels”
“It took resourcefulness, patience and a problem-solving attitude to overcome the bumps along the way,” Capt Skoric said later. As well as being caught up in the pomp of the event, the vessel also underwent a port state control inspection while at the terminal, receiving zero observations.
Northern Marine’s ship agency affiliate Austen Maritime was also on hand to help ensure that Stena Blue Sky’s historic visit to Zhoushan went smoothly. Austen Maritime expanded it agency services in 2017 by establishing new operations in Indonesia, China, South Korea and Hong Kong.
As part of the Northern Marine Group, NMM is responsible for the management of gas carriers and oil and chemical tankers. The company also manages two other Stena Bulk LNG carriers, the 173,000 m3, 2011-built sisters Stena Crystal Sky and Stena Clear Sky.
Northern Marine is part of the Stena organisation and, although Stena is an important customer for the ship manager, some three-quarters of the ships in the Northern Marine fleet are managed on behalf of third-party owners.
At the beginning of 2018 the managed fleet stood at 175 vessels, of which 109 were under full technical management. Oil and gas tankers account for approximately two-thirds of the fully-managed ships.
The company employs 8,600, comprising 800 shore personnel, 3,600 seafarers on Stena ships and 4,200 seafarers on third-party vessels.
Tritec Marine, a ship design consultancy, is another subsidiary of Northern Marine Group. The company has begun to use virtual reality (VR) technology in several ship design projects, including for the development of an innovative LNG bunkering and feeder vessel concept.
VR is enabling Tritec engineers to scrutinise the design’s three-dimensional geometry, before preparing final plans and arrangements. VR also the complexities of the bunker vessel design to be communicated to potential customers. It also helps demonstrate how the design complies with various aspects of a continuously tightening regulatory regime governing vessel emissions.