In terms of shipping, this year’s Gastech event in Barcelona turned the spotlight on two pressing issues, small-scale LNG projects and bunkering
Attending Gastech so soon after SMM 2018 was a lesson in contrasts. SMM is considerably bigger (30,000 vs 50,000 attendees) and the 700 exhibitors at Gastech are spread over a much larger area. This, coupled with the event’s proximity to Barcelona, leant Gastech a more relaxed atmosphere than its Hamburg counterpart.
LNG shipping received much attention at Gastech, albeit as part of the overall supply chain. During discussions on the high-level aspects of gas trades, two interesting themes became apparent: the first was small-scale LNG, which one engineering company chief executive described as the products we have been developing while waiting for the bigger projects to be financed; the other was LNG bunkering.
Nancy Ballout (AG&P): Modularisation ensures faster fabrication and easier transportation, so facilities are up and running sooner
AG&P vice president of process engineering and operations Nancy Ballout spoke exclusively to LNG World Shipping on the technology behind the Houston-based company’s small-scale LNG regasification modules: “I am originally from Latin America and I have seen the issue of getting gas to customers that are off the grid; this is the puzzle AG&P set out to solve.”
Ms Ballout explained that while AG&P is recognised as a fabricator, it is currently moving into the engineering sector. Its solution to the above-mentioned ‘puzzle’ uses two different technologies that are packaged in modules; this means that as its clients’ requirements grow, additional regasification modules can be added.
The two technologies are water bath-type vaporisation (WBV) and fan ambient air vaporisation.
WBV utilises fire tubes to transfer heat to a bath of water by convective and conductive heat transfer. The combustion gas never directly contacts the water. To minimise emissions and improve efficiency, the design can also include low NOx burner technology and a waste heat recovery economiser, increasing efficiency without the complexity associated with other systems.
According to AG&P, this design is flexible and suitable for offshore and onshore applications where space is limited. It is also ideal for cold climates and environmentally-regulated sites, including those where an open-loop system is not feasible. The company also noted that while designed to be used in offshore/floating applications, the system is comparable to submerged combustion vaporisers (SCVs) normally used onshore in cold climates.
“LNG is emerging in several ship sectors and has great potential, but should be accompanied by the necessary port facilities and infrastructure capable of providing quick and efficient gas refuelling”
AG&P has also developed an advanced fan ambient air vaporisation (FAV) technology for subtropical and tropical locations with ambient air temperatures greater than 15°C. The technology simplifies the design of the regasification train, its operations and maintenance, according to AG&P. Other benefits include reduced size, as the FAV regasification trains have been designed to be relatively small and simple, allowing for a faster build and easier installation. The modules can also be split into two, or stick-built and installed onsite, making it suitable for sites that cannot be accessed with a single, prefabricated module.
Björn Munko (TGE): TGE supplies cargo-handling packages for one of the world’s first small-scale FSRUs
TGE Marine Gas Engineering is a long-time developer of small-scale LNG and at Gastech its general manager sales and development Björn Munko announced a contract to design and supply the cargo handling system and tank material package for one of the world’s first small-scale floating storage and regasification units. Elaborating on the hose-based gas transfer system, Mr Munko said: “There are five regas units that have a send-out rate of 335 tonnes per hour, or approximately 2.9M tonnes per annum at a send-out pressure of 65 bar. There is also a recondenser and boil-off compressor. All the gas-related equipment is delivered by TGE.”
The unit also has 28,000 m3 storage and was ordered by TEMA LNG, which is backed by Helios Investment from London. It will be stationed in Ghana once completed by Jiangnan Shipyard Group.
These units are aimed at developing energy supply to islands and supply areas which have no pipeline access. The hoses will be supplied by Gutteling BV of Rotterdam.
Bunkering on the spotlight
On the LNG bunkering side, ABS hosted a presentation by probunkers, the LNG bunkering start-up founded by Alexander Prokopakis.
Speaking at Gastech, Mr Prokopakis revealed that the project to build a global network of LNG bunkering stations has significant backing from the Greek shipping community.
Alexander Prokopakis (probunkers): “ABS is providing technical support; probunkers is designing the LNG bunkering vessel"
ABS is to provide technical support as it embarks on designing a fleet of specialist LNG bunker vessels for key ports around the world.
ABS vice president for global business development Peter Fitzpatrick said: “With its low sulphur emissions, LNG is an attractive proposition for shipowners and operators responding to the 2020 sulphur cap. However, lack of bunkering infrastructure has been one of the key constraints on its adoption.”
From its headquarters in Athens, probunkers aims to design, build, own and operate a fleet of LNG supply vessels in seven ports initially: Houston; Rotterdam (or, alternatively, Antwerp); Gibraltar; Singapore; Hong Kong; Busan and Fujairah. The design of the LNG bunker barge will be standardised as much as possible, under the ethos of “design it once, build it many times”.
Another LNG bunkering barge announcement came from Spanish engineering group SENER. DNV GL DNV GL presented the engineering and technology group SENER with an approval-in-principle (AiP) certificate for an LNG-fuelled bunkering vessel.
Rafael de Gongora (SENER) and Lucas Ribeiro (DNV GL): SENER general manager of marine Rafael de Góngora receives the agreement-in-principle from DNV GL area manager Iberia & France Lucas Ribeiro
The new innovative design complies with DNV GL class rules and all current and upcoming regulations, including the new emissions control regulations and the IGF Code for fuel with a low flashpoint. Two separate AiPs have been issued, covering the design of the SENER LNG bunkering vessel family, which consists of a small unit with a bunker capacity of 4,000 m3, and a larger unit with bunkering capacity of 8,000 m3.
“We have focused our design on the optimisation of cost, safety, efficiency and bunkering processes, by minimising operating expenses and capital costs, reducing the risks during loading and bunkering operation, and managing and reducing the boil off,” said SENER general manager of marine Rafael de Góngora.
“LNG is emerging in several ship sectors and has great potential but should be accompanied by the necessary port facilities and infrastructure capable of providing quick and efficient gas refuelling, in which LNG bunkering vessels will play an important role.”
DNV GL area manager Iberia and France Lucas Ribeiro added: “[This design] offers our customers a flexible, safe and future-proof solution as well as the opportunity to facilitate LNG bunkering, while contributing to the decarbonisation of the maritime industry and further elimination of the emission of greenhouse gases,” said
The approval process included reference to LNG-specific design issues, such as cargo handling, (liquid and vapour), hazardous zones and risk assessment, mooring arrangements and quick release, manifold, transfer arms and hoses, as well as boil-off.
The safety aspect of LNG bunkering is being tackled through the industry body SIGGTO, which has formed a specific body, SGMF. It will be interesting to see the positive influence this body will have on the traditional bunkering trade, which generally does not enjoy a good reputation for safety.