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US firm outlines its LNG terminal

cool-down procedure at start-up
Osifo Akhuemonkhan and Roberto Ruiperez Vara, CHIV International, Baltimore, Maryland
As companies around the world push
forward with their plans to commission
new LNG import facilities, it is common
to see critical activities associated with
the cool-down of such facilities given a
low priority when compared to other
commissioning activities.
The push to make final preparations
for cool-down often results in a gap
between the level of preparation and
detail included in procedures and the
expectations at the engineering,
procurement and construction phase.
All too often the owner-operator does
not recognize the gap until it is too late.
The quality of operator training is often
compromised and delays in commissioning
are frequent, as late modifications are
made to process piping and equipment to After the completion of LNG import terminals, such as the one above, modifications are made to process piping and
equipment to handle the cool-down procedure. This is before the first LNG cargoes are delivered to the facility
properly handle the cool-down.
This article identifies commissioning before start-up is defining what is clean should be cut diagonally at their ends so install heat tracing on the valve trunnions.
strategies owner-operators can adopt to when determining pipe cleanliness. as to prevent entry of water on rainy days.  Valve seat durability is generally
bridge the potential cool-down gap and Depending on the party and the level Valves: proportional to the price you pay for the
ensure a smooth, safe and effective of responsibility, clean is usually  Install a locking mechanism in each valve. But take into account that even
terminal start-up and transition to somewhere between no hard hats or valve to avoid accidental opening or closing the highest quality valve seat may get
operations. pieces of 2x4s in the lines to no of the valves during pipeline cleaning or damaged by foreign materials.
For the most part, companies that microscopic dust. other construction activities. In most cases
design and construct LNG storage tanks Clean may best be defined as having valves are delivered by vendors in an open Cryogenic dry-out
have well-developed and well-established removed any foreign matter that could position, it is best that valves be installed To allow proper operation of the facility,
procedures for clean-up, dry-out and cool- harm equipment during ensuing and locked in this position. all cryogenic piping must be thoroughly
down of their tanks. commissioning and start-up activities.  In particular, during the cleaning dried out. Small quantities of water, or
It is not suggested that there are Although high flow pipe blows are process avoid blowing through butterfly even water vapor, can freeze in valve
typically large gaps in expectation for the often the approach used to clean lengths valves, control valves or other valves with bodies, valve trunnions, pump parts and
commissioning and cool-down of the of pipe, one must consider the effect of exposed seats. For example, blowing passages, instrument connections,
tanks, but the facility owner-operator welding slag or foam glass dust on soft debris through butterfly valves can easily strainer media or any low point in the
should still closely monitor all LNG tank- valve seals during these blows. damage the disc. In such situations a spool piping system.
related commissioning activities. For example, most LNG pumps use the piece should be installed in place of these This could prevent or restrict
LNG itself to cool and lubricate the pump valves and, subsequent to cleaning, the operation of equipment and/or lead to
Procedure bearings. Once in operation, if foreign butterfly valves should be golden welded failure of the bearing materials, such as
Preparations for an LNG facility start-up materials plug the cooling paths or into the pipelines to prevent the need for the galling of trunnion bearings.
require that detailed procedures be damage the bearings, the pump could pressure testing. Some vendors offer In addition particles of ice that
developed and implemented for the suffer a total failure. additional protection for the moving parts breakaway and are carried through the
following activities: In addition to vendor-specific pre- of the valve to prevent damage from cryogenic system may clog strainers,
 Piping and equipment clean-up installation storage requirements, the impacts caused by high speed particles. block the cooling paths in the LNG
 Dry-out following are some other precautionary  Unnecessary opening and closing of pumps or damage valve seats.
 Purge steps that will minimize issues arising valves may encourage build up of debris Once a system is inventoried with
 Pre-cool-down from poor cleaning and/ dry-out. and other particles present in piping. If LNG, these issues become extremely
 Cool-down Piping: valves need to be operated prior to or difficult to resolve as these
 Confirm that the design of the piping during pipe cleaning, these operations lines/components may have to be de-
Piping clean-up includes low point drains throughout the should be properly supervised and proper inventoried, purged, warmed-up,
After construction, piping, valves and cryogenic system. procedures should be utilized for cleaning repaired, purged again, re-dried, re-
vessels often contain certain amounts of  Store piping components with end soft seats. cooled and re-inventoried.
construction debris and possibly free caps in place until they are installed.  A method to confirm that valve Such actions could also cause a delay
water that has accumulated over the long  Seal opens ends of piping during trunnions are absolutely dry (no free water) in the start-up schedule and become very
months of construction. One of the first construction when access is not required. prior to initiation of piping dry-out should costly for the owner-operator or EPC
gaps encountered in the closing months  Large diameter vents to atmosphere be developed. One example would be to contractor.

Reprinted with permission from LNG Journal. LNG journal February 2009 23

Less obvious are the potential issues most effective method of assuring that the gas in petrochemical industries can systems that involve multiple elevations, a
on how to re-cool the repaired section of cryogenic systems are properly dried out. freeze under cryogenic temperatures. significant number of elbows and/or a
the plant with LNG present in other With the Sweep and Soak technique Much as with dry-out, the tight envelope is less predictable. Final
sections. Hence, it is very important that the drying medium (dry air or nitrogen commissioning team should have a well cool-down is not the time to find out that
all piping systems expected to experience with a dew point of -60C/-80F) is prepared procedure detailing the method to the piping did not move as expected.
cryogenic temperatures are dried out introduced at one or more points in the be used to purge the system and in Unexpected pipe movement can result in
before placed in operation. cryogenic piping system and allowed to particular, the sequence and timing of steps, insulation damage, pipe guide
It is also important that consideration flow through a large portion of the including rate of introduction of the purge misalignment and/or mechanical damage
be given to drying out the facility long system and is then vented to atmosphere. medium and verification of end points. to the pipe and/or pipe support systems. A
before mechanical completion of the As the name implies, the goal is to Once the amount of nitrogen needed test can confirm that piping will move as
cryogenic piping as many problems in sweep the entire piping section or system has been accurately calculated a supply expected. Critical pipe supports should be
dry-out can occur as a result of poor (or until the TDP is reached. of the whole amount has to be arranged. pre-marked with initial and expected
hurried) planning and preparation. This by no means indicates that that The commissioning team will need to movement before the start of the test. .
piping section is dry, it only indicates that decide whether a displacement or dilution/ 3. Confirmation of final cool-down
Starting process dry media is available throughout the mixing method will be used for the purge. procedure: Often, cool-down of the LNG
 Perform visual inspection (may section or system to complete the dry-out In the former, the purging gas is transfer system is performed with an
require specialized equipment) of large- procedure. introduced to remove the existing gas LNG carrier connected to the unloading
bore piping to verify that no stagnant Once the TDP is reached, the main without mixing both gases. Although system. In this scenario it is very
water is found. It is important to start the vent point(s) is closed and a drying flow is some mixing cannot be avoided, with the difficult to test the cool-down procedure
dry-out with as little water as possible in established to piping laterals, equipment, use of lower pressures and proper exit before the carrier arrives. On the other
the system as this may greatly extend the instrument taps, etc. through various points it can be minimized. hand, if vaporized liquid nitrogen is to be
time required to achieve dry-out. Pay ambient vent locations. The quantity of purge gas needed is used to cool down the LNG transfer
special attention to dead legs and low As TDP is reached at each of these therefore about equal to the quantity of system prior to introducing LNG then
points in the system as water is likely to locations the vent is closed such that the dry gas to be displaced. The latter method is pre-cool-down testing can take place.
accumulate at these points. media is allowed to sit for a while i.e., soak. used when the piping limitations force This will be particularly useful if there
 Field confirm that the identified dew After a pre-determined period of time, you to pressurize and depressurize the are unique aspects to the cool-down path
point sample points are readily accessible the dew point is checked again at these system to remove the gas to be purged. chosen or peculiarities with the location
and, if not, viable alternatives are identified. various test points to confirm that the TDP of the cool-down equipment with respect
 Ensure an adequate number of has been maintained in the piping. Pre-cool-down test to the LNG transfer system. Does one
quality dew point meters are available If the testing shows dew point has not For example, when purging LNG tanks, wait until a ship loaded with high-value
during dry-out. They should be portable remained at the TDP or below, then water an effective way to proceed would be to cargo is sitting at the berth before
with back-lit readouts and rated for vapor has been absorbed into the drying introduce the purge gas via the bottom confirming that the piping can be
temperatures and pressures of the gas media. fill line at low pressures. This would properly cooled to commence unloading?
samples expected. Ease of use and rapid The effected sub-system should be slowly displace the total volume of air in Testing of the balance of plant may also
response time are critical for large swept again and re-tested after soaking. the tank with little mixing. be beneficial if vaporized liquid nitrogen
system dry-outs with multiple dew point Once the dew point testing indicates the If there is to be a pre-cool-down test of is used in the final cool-down.
sample points. If dry natural gas is to be pipe subsection has remained dry, the any portion of the facility, the purge can
used for dry-out, the instruments must sub-system can be isolated until purge or be deferred until then as the test will also Why cool-down?
also have proper electrical classification. cool-down commences. purge the system piping. Unless specifically designed for such a
 Dry media delivery equipment should If after multiple soaks, the piping A pre-cool-down test can help provide condition, when a small flow of LNG at -
be thoroughly tested to confirm that it is section fails to maintain the TDP, it can be assurance that ensuing cool-down and 260F [-160C] flows into a large
capable of guaranteeing the desired flow assumed that there is standing water in start-up procedures will advance diameter pipe that is at ambient
at the required maximum dew point for the system and further action should be smoothly. temperature, such as a 36" LNG transfer
extended periods of time. If the facilitys taken to resolve this. It requires additional costs and adds to line, the bottom of the line rapidly cools
instrument air compressors are to be Dry-out activities during the schedule during the commissioning/ due to the heat transfer from the LNG,
used, it is important that the system is commissioning require detailed procedures start-up phases, however its benefits while the top of the pipe stays relatively
fully commissioned and designed to and accurate record keeping to confirm the typically far outweigh any negatives. warm for some time.
operate at continuous, high capacity for entire cryogenic piping system is properly The test involves cooling some or all of Stainless steel contracts at a rate of
the duration of the entire facility dry-out. dried and that wet media has not been the cryogenic piping to near operating about 3" per 100 feet [125 mm per 50m].
Many of these steps should be taken pushed into previously dried sections. temperatures depending on the Such contraction results in the pipe
into consideration during the design of An inadequately dried system can objectives. The objectives typically are bowing upwards (the bottom of the pipe
the facility as this may reduce costs and significantly affect the remainder of the categorized in three areas: shorter than the top of the pipe).
schedule delays during initial and commissioning activities and subsequent 1. Confirmation of dry-out effectiveness: Depending on the pipe support/restraint
subsequent commissioning activities. operations. By cooling the cryogenic piping system to system, substantial stresses can be
temperatures well below freezing, such as - placed on the system or, if not restrained
Preferred cryogenic Purge 40C/F, the valves in the system, vertically, substantial upward movement.
dry-out procedure Assuming that LNG or LNG vapor is to be particularly those with valve trunnions, Although some large bore piping
Dry-out of cryogenic piping is typically used for piping system cool-down, the piping can be stroked once cold to confirm that the systems, such as the deck piping on many
considered complete when the Target Dew systems need to be purged of air to avoid valve is free to move, i.e., no ice formation. LNG carriers are designed for the trickle
Point (TDP) of -40C/F is reached. developing flammable concentrations. 2. Confirmation of pipe movement: In cool-down approach, the piping systems
Although there exists a variety of dry-out Nitrogen gas is the preferred medium some cases pipe movement is predictable installed at LNG facilities typically are
approaches, experience suggests that the for LNG terminal purging as carbon and not subject to concern. However, in not.
Sweep and Soak approach provides the dioxide gas, the other predominant purge other cases the movement of piping Unless specifically designed for trickle

24 LNG journal The Worlds Leading LNG journal

Reprinted with permission from LNG Journal.

cooling with LNG, large-bore LNG piping There is no one-size-fits-all technique berthed at the facility for an extended installed with spring straps, it is very
needs to be cooled with a cryogenic vapor for cooling down LNG piping. There are period of time the cool-down process is unlikely that all the detectors installed
flow prior to the introduction of LNG to three main sources for cool-down vapor and susceptible to interruptions in the case of will provide accurate readings and once
minimize pipe stresses. the suitability of each source is dependent bad sea conditions. insulation has been installed it becomes
Additionally, LNG is sneaky fast, i.e., on the facility and the circumstances 3. Vaporized Liquid Nitrogen (LIN): The costly to replace the detectors.
once introduced into warm piping, surrounding cool-down and commissioning. most likely method of getting LIN into Therefore, although installing a large
because of its low viscosity and high The three main sources are: the cryogenic piping would be via trucks. number of temperature detectors on the
differential temperature with the base 1. Vapor from the LNG tank(s): Since the trucks are generally mobile piping marginally increases construction
metal, LNG can move very quickly Depending on the piping design features, there is an advantage in terms of costs, the improved indication of cool-down
throughout the piping system riding on a cold vapor can be sourced from LNG tanks accessibility to favorable injection points. status can actually result in savings.
vapor blanket as it vaporizes. during the tank cool-down or from tanks Of the three sources discussed, the It is important to note that
This means that LNG can reach areas of with existing liquid levels in the case of an LIN method provides the coldest temperature detectors installed on piping
the piping system long before volumetric expansion facility cool-down. In either injection temperature i.e., -275F. This using spring straps or similar
calculations or even elevation would suggest. case, a large volume of gas will be available temperature can also be controlled to be installation methods may accumulate
The larger the differential for piping cool-down. A significant fraction cooler or warmer using the vaporizer some ice between the device and the
temperature the lower the likelihood that of these volumes can also be recovered if installed on the truck. piping during contraction and expansion.
a cold vapor front will flow in advance of pipeline compressors are installed and Using LIN also provides an advantage The method of installation should ensure
the LNG helping pre-cool the piping. have already been commissioned in the from the standpoint of venting during that there is always a dry, continuous
As the vapor blanket collapses facility. One of the drawbacks of this source cool-down. With this advantage, cool- contact between the pipeline and metal
underneath the LNG there can be rapid of vapor is the relatively low pressure (if down of deadlegs in the system becomes skin temperature detectors to minimize
bowing of the piping due to the large boil-off gas compressors are not used) and less of a problem. inaccurate temperature readings.
temperature differential between the the instability of the temperature of the However, there are some drawbacks to
bottom and top of the pipe. vapor. Lower pressures in the piping the use of LIN for cool-down. The major Procedures
Cooling the LNG piping to reduce residence time of the gas and drawback is the logistics of utilizing LIN LNG facility commissioning activities
temperatures that are close to operating consequently larger volumes are required trucks. should not be attempted without properly
temperatures helps minimize the to cool down the piping. In the case where For example, for a world-scale LNG written and reviewed procedures.
potential of pipe bowing by reducing the the cold vapor is sourced from an LNG import terminal scores of trucks may be Cool-down and purging procedures are
top-to-bottom differential temperature, tank that is itself being cooled down, the required. The facility would also need to explicitly mandated by section 14 of
while collapsing the vapor blanket more initial erratic behavior of the vapor space have sufficient real estate around the NFPA 59A (2006 ed.) and to a lesser
quickly thereby promoting a cold vapor in the tank will greatly affect the injection point(s) for the pumper/vaporizer extent by section 17 of EN-1473.
front moving down the piping as the effectiveness of the vapor as a cool-down truck to set up. Procedures should be finalized early
piping is inventoried with LNG. medium. In the other case where the cold If nitrogen cooling is contemplated, i.e., several weeks before cool-down is
vapor is sourced from an idle tank with an motor capacities and/or operating scheduled to begin. The procedures
Cool-down criteria established liquid level, the vapor may not conditions must be considered due to the should be written in a format that can be
As stated before, the general rule is that be cold enough to get all the facility piping higher molecular weight of nitrogen. easily modified during the process. The
cryogenic liquid piping of a certain size to the target temperature. Additionally, regardless of the medium cool-down procedure and the appended
and larger be cooled down using cold 2. Vapor from an LNG carrier: LNG chosen, the cool-down flow may be once- information should include:
vapor prior to the introduction of LNG. carriers can supply cold vapor via boil-off through or recirculated. LNG vapors,  A pre-start valve checklist which indicates
Another general rule is that cool-down gas or vaporized LNG. A full carrier will by themselves, rarely provide adequate valve positions just before cool-down begins
is considered complete when all piping is have or be able to generate a large enough cooling to achieve total cool-down. and a valve isolation philosophy,
cooled to or below a pre-determined volume of vapor to cool a facility. The Consideration needs to be given to  Other pre-start activities. For example,
temperature. Therefore, two questions carrier will be directly connected to the methods to further desuperheat these confirm inventories of cool-down media,
need to be answered as preparations are LNG transfer system hence the longest and flows such that there is ample cooling confirm blinds have been removed, etc.
made for cool-down: largest piping system would be cooled first driving force.  An instrument operability checklist
1) What pipe size should cool-down in and thoroughly. One strategy that can be Often, if so designed, vapor return used by operators to determine the
this manner be limited to? and, adopted would be to cool the transfer blowers or BOG compressors can be used accuracy or functionality ofinstruments
2) What is the target temperature? system and the LNG storage tanks then to provide a re-circulating capability of especially control valve and temperature
The answer to these questions lies in the use the vapor from the tanks to cool-down the cool-down vapors, taking into account detectors/monitors,
design of the terminal. What did the over the remaining piping systems as the heat of compression.  A PSV checklist to confirm that PSVs
engineer set as the basis for various previously described. A significant fraction This may also make the use of LIN have been set up for service,
stress calculations? of the vapors used in this method can be more attractive as the full cooling energy  Details of the facilitys car seal
Unfortunately, far too often it is found recovered if pipeline compressors are from the LIN can be used if the LIN is program by clearly identifying steps
that the engineer(s) did not specifically available. An issue that should be injected for desuperheating. where car seals are to be broken ,
address these cool-down criteria in their considered for this method is the pressure of  A list of cryogenic piping supports (cold
analysis. Combine this with the fact that the vapor flow through the piping system. Monitoring shoes) with the corresponding expected
all too often the How large? and How Usually, vapor from a carrier is available at Accurate temperature monitoring is moving data (direction as well as length),
cold? questions are asked very late in the low pressures hence the cooling process important in conducting a smooth cool-  Sketches of temporary piping
planning process confusion is created. would be inefficient as a greater volume down. It is prudent to be liberal with the installed as well as marked up P&IDs for
Unless other design specifications would be needed to cool segments of piping. amount of surface mounted (bottom and different stages in the procedure,
exist, practical experience suggests all Heat leakage into the vapor via the un- top) temperature detectors installed on  Narratives that help the user
LNG piping 8 inches [200 mm] and above insulated LNG unloading arms would also large diameter piping. (operators, cool-down team) understand
should be cooled down to -200F [-130C] have to be accounted for. Additionally, since Regardless of the installation method the ultimate goal each section of the
with cold vapor before introducing LNG. this method will require that the carrier be i.e., whether welded to the pipe or procedure is meant to accomplish, and

Reprinted with permission from LNG Journal. LNG journal February 2009 25

 Detailed step-by-step instructions Finally it is imperative that all plant Conclusion up is based on well planned and executed
(with contingencies). The procedures operations personnel involved in the There are a number of ways to commission programs. In the case of commissioning
should also include cautionary commissioning be trained on the and cool down LNG facilities. This paper and final cool-down, adequate preparation
statements about potential hazards/ procedures created. This will reduce the has identified some key considerations that and planning should begin as early as the
mistakes applicable to each section of the chances of human error during are prudent to take into account during design phase of the project. 
procedure. commissioning. this process. Successful LNG facility start- Osifo Akhuemonkhan and Roberto
Ruiperez Vara work for CHIV
International, a major player
in LNG terminal projects.
CHIV is a joint venture
between MPR Associates, Inc.
of Alexandria, Virginia, USA,
and CHIV Corp. of Hanover,
MPR, founded in 1964,
specializes in technical
services for the development,
design, construction and
operation of power facilities
and equipment for energy,
industrial, and government
clients. CHIV Corp., founded
in 1991 had been providing
LNG engineering and
consulting services to a wide
base of clients ranging from
international LNG trading to
LNG vehicle fleets until the
formation of CHIV
International. CHIV
International builds on the
Owners Engineer model
applied by MPR in the power
industry and transfers it to
the LNG industry. The firms
current LNG activities include
providing the front-end
engineering and design for
six North American projects
and one Central America LNG
import venture. CHIV is also
currently acting as the
Regulatory Engineer for the
State of Connecticut and LNG
Technical Advisor for the
Government of Jamaica. The
firm also successfully
supported the permitting
process of three new import
terminals, including
Cameron LNG in Louisiana.
Among other projects, CHIV
was very actively involved in
supporting the reactivation
of the US LNG import terminal
at Cove Point, Maryland.
CHIV has also provided
FEEDs for the US import
projects at Downeast,
Sparrows Point and Oregon
LNG; all three are well into the
FERC permitting process.
In Asia, CHIV worked for
Indias Petronet on the Dahej
LNG terminal expansion and
for World Energy Corp on a
planned LNG liquefaction
plant in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

American Gas
Association (AGA),
Purging Principles and
Practices (3rd edition,

26 LNG journal The Worlds Leading LNG journal

Reprinted with permission from LNG Journal.