Safety features on LNG ships
F.S. Harris Ltd, 14 Karen Close, Hethersett, Norwich NR9 3DG, UK The technology to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) safely by sea is well established and many variations of cargo containment systems have been tested and developed since the early 1950s. Examples of four current LNG ships incorporating different containment systems are briefly described. Safety features are examined, now considered standard practice on a modern LNG carrier, which have made a major contribution to the outstandingly good record of LNG ship operations. Examples are given of some LNG ship casualty incidents.
Keywords: LNG; safety; sea t r a n s p o r t a t i o n
How many safety features are there on a typical liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier? A difficult question to answer, especially considering the complexities of the construction and characteristics of the cargo. Without doubt it is the cargo itself that makes one of the largest contributions to the overall safety of L N G ships. The capital costs of gas carrier new-buildings, the multinational nature of a complete project, together with the potential market value of the gas, govern that only major companies are involved in the L N G shipping business. Responsible owners and operators of LNG carriers include oil and gas majors, and state controlled companies such as Shell, BP, British Gas, NYK, MOL, K Lines, Gazocean, Phillips Petroleum, Marathon Oil, Energy Transportation, Woodside Petroleum, BHP Petroleum, Gotaas-Larsen, Burmah Oil, Malaysian International Shipping and SNTM-HYPROC. At the carriage temperature of - 163°C, the density of L N G is 450 kg m - 3, which is less that half the weight of water. This comparatively light and clean cargo is shipped on dedicated routes in a uniformly loaded condition. On the return ballast leg the large water ballast capacity of the L N G ship is also loaded uniformly with the result that the hull girder is not subjected to large bending moments or excessive shear force loads which can be experienced on oil tankers or bulk carriers of similar dimensions. The shipping sector is a vital link in the overall L N G chain for the success of the complete project and therefore the ships must be reliable and safe. Sister ships operating on the same dedicated trade offer a considerable margin of safety in an emergency situation if a transfer of cargo at sea should be required. Designers were given the challenge of transporting L N G by sea and to solve the problems relating to a light
cargo requiring to be carried at atmospheric pressure in a fully refrigerated condition at - 163°C. From the 1950s onwards marine engineers, naval architects, chemists, scientists, cryogenic specialists, multinational companies, learned bodies and shipbuilders across the world have strived to produce the perfect L N G containment system. The multitude of problems were overcome and 34 years ago in 1958 the first commercial carriage of L N G by sea was made by a 5125 m 3 converted cargo ship Methane Pioneer. What can be said about all of the successful containment systems, and most of the unsuccessful ones too, is that they represent the highest professional standards in terms of engineering, design, testing and construction. Containment systems
Today the total number of L N G ships in service and on order is 90. To illustrate the current stage reached, details of four examples of recent designs incorporating different containment systems are briefly described, which in themselves highlight many of the safety features to be found on L N G carriers.
Beginning with the smallest ship, Figure 1 shows an outline arrangement of the 18 800 m 3 L N G carrier on order, for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK)/Perbadanan National Shipping Line joint partnership, from Japanese shipbuilder NKK, incorporating the French developed Technigaz Mark III membrane containment system. The key to the Technigaz membrane system is the use of waffled stainless steel for the membrane primary barrier. The membrane is a flexible liner with a series of corrugations perpendicular to each other which resist thermal changes and ship bending deflections. The Mark III design benefits from the experience gained from earlier Technigaz membrane designs and includes an
*Paper presented at the "Low Temperature Engineering and Cryogenics Conference', 13-1 5 July 1992, Southampton, UK 0011-2275/93/080772~96 © 1993 Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd
Cryogenics 1993 Vol 33, No 8
cellular insulation and two layers of plywood.0 knots
1 8 8 0 0 m 3 Technigaz membrane LNG carrier outline arrangement
aluminium foil-fibreglass composite secondary barrier (Triplex) and a load bearing insulation system consisting of a bonded sandwich of plywood and fibreglass-reinforced rigid polyurethane foam.a. Ltd.S. Harris
. The contract price was reported as around US$78 million.
Shipbuilders Owners Delivery Length o. A prototype 630 m 3 vessel Pythagore was delivered in 1964 to Gazocean from Duchesne et Bossiere shipyard Le Havre with two cargo tanks. Malaysia to Japan for the city gas utility Saibu Gas. Figure 2 shows the outline arrangement of the 87 500 m 3 SPB L N G carrier. The concept has been named the IH[ SPB System.5 knots
Cryogenics 1993 Vol 33.00 m 124.a. The cargo tanks are positioned by use of supports.00 m 40.p. double side hull and double deck.Safety features on LNG ships: F.50 m 15.80 m 10. The hull structure is arranged with internal flat surfaces for the insulation and membrane. No 8
. similar to the pioneering Conch L N G system. and rigid quality control conditions. as part of a 20 year supply contract. with SPB an abbreviation of 'Self-supporting Prismatic-shape IMO type B'. Length b. Breadth moulded Depth moulded Draught Service speed
Figure 2 87 500 m 3 SPB LNG carrier outline arrangement
IHI Phillips/Marathon (2) 1993 239.p. Breadth moulded Depth moulded Draught Service speed
NKK NYK/Perbad 1993 130.
IHI SPB prismatic tank system Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co.00 m 226.165cC with liquid nitrogen. The N K K new-building will trade.00 m 25.10 m 18. from Bintulu. The design meets IMO type B requirements with a partial secondary barrier and is based on extensive structural and fatigue analysis of the tanks and tank supports. which are provided by a double bottom. The tanks were designed as L N G tanks and tested at . Length b.00 m 26. while allowing contraction and expansion of the tanks under temperature variations and hull deflections. keys and chocks which prevent bodily movement of the tank under static and dynamic loads. Japan have developed L N G carrier designs based on selfsupporting prismatic tanks made from aluminium alloy.60 m 6. with transverse cofferdam bulkheads between each cargo hold. which serves the northern part of Kyushu Island. The ship carried two L N G cargoes and then traded with L P G and ethylene until 1973.70 m 16. two of
!iIll ' ~!
Shipbuilders Owners Delivery Length o. IHI delivered a 1516m 3 ethylene carrier Kayoh Maru which incorporated the SPB LNG system. In 1988. The containment was provided by two stainless steel membranes.
130000 m3 Gaz Transport membrane LNG carrier outline arrangement
Cryogenics 1993 Vol 33.Safety features on LNG ships: F. brought LNG carrier construction back to Europe after an interval of 14 years.1983 Edition was adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee of IMO as The International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code).40 m 11. made from plywood boxes filled with loose perlite.60 m 260. No 8
. The Gaz Transport membrane was developed during the early 1960s and as a testbed the 29866 m 3 L PG carrier Hypolite Worms was built by Constructions Navales et Industrielles de la Mediterranee (CNIM) with a single invar membrane. which have successfully served the same trade since 1969. is attached to the inner hull as the secondary insulation.
International Gas Carrier Code
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk was published in 1976 to provide international standards for the safe carriage of liquefied gas by sea in bulk. Tanks are insulated with phenol resin foam and polyurethane foam. Delivered in 1990 from the Nagasaki Works of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. The order placed in 1987 for this single new building was reported as in the region of US$140 million.
Moss spherical tank system
The spherical independent tanks sector for LNG carriers is dominated by the designs of Norwegian gas specialists
Shipbuilders Owners Delivery Length o.5 million tonnes of LNG per year over 20 years. Completed in 1968. Alaska to the Tokyo Bay area of Japan. Breadth moulded Depth moulded Draught Service speed
Chantiers de l'Atlantique Petronas (5) 1994/1997 271. The hull structure of ships built to the Gaz Transport system are arranged with internal fiat surfaces similar to the Technigaz design. Japan for Cometco Shipping Inc. the national oil and gas company of Malaysia. France.. Figure 3 shows an outline arrangement of the 130 000 m 3 Gaz Transport membrane L N G carrier.80 m 43. The development of the spherical tank containment system stems in part from the successful use of pressurized spheres for LPG carriers and from improved analytical methods which enable finite element analysis to be made of the tank structural materials and fracture mechanics studies to be carried out. LNG carriers built since 1976 can be expected to have incorporated into their design all the safety features recommended by the Gas Carrier Code and each will have been issued with a Certificate of Fitness.30 m 25. Another layer of plywood boxes filled with loose perlite is then fitted. Figure4 shows an outline arrangement of the 137000 m 3 Moss spherical tank LNG carrier Ekaputra.S. by winning a contract to built five L N G carriers for Petronas. In June 1983 the Gas Carrier Code . the ship traded with L PG until converted in 1974 and was sold. The key to the French developed Gaz Transport system is the use of invar for the membrane. The 1983 Amendments to Chapter VII of the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) makes the provisions of the IGC Code mandatory under that Convention.163°C required for tile carriage of LNG. The cost of each ship was said to be US$260 million. to breakers in 1984. Length b. with almost no shrinkage over the temperature range of ambient to . The ships are due for delivery in 1993 and will trade from Kenai. with many lessons learnt. Flat invar membrane strips with upturned edges are fitted on the plywood boxes to form the secondary barrier. An edition incorporating amendments 1-4 was published in 1983. The IGC Code applies to ships built or converted after 1986.00 m 21. Chantiers de l'Atlantique of St Nazaire. followed by a second invar layer to form the primary barrier.p. The cargo tank spheres are constructed of aluminium alloy and are supported only at their equator by the ship's structure. Invar is a 36~o nickel steel alloy that has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. A weather protection is provided for the above deck parts of the spheres. A full secondary barrier is not required and instead a small-leak protection system or partial secondary barrier is fitted. as a Ro-Ro cargo ship. the ship is the largest LNG carrier built so far. Moss Rosenberg. Taiwan with a contract to deliver about 1. A layer of insulation. for Phillips 66 Natural Gas Company and Marathon Oil Company. Harris
which are under construction at IHI's Aichi works. and will replace the 71 500 m 3 Gaz Transport membrane carriers Polar Alaska and Arctic Tokyo.
Gaz Transport membrane
In 1991.a. Indonesia and Kaoshiung. Ekaputra is now in service between Badak.
service stations and control stations do not face the cargo area. service station and control station spaces can be closed gas-tight. Breadthmoulded Depth moulded Draught Servicespeed
EKAPUTRA Mitsubishi H. drinking and domestic water tanks and stores by gas-tight steel bulkheads. IMO considers L N G carriers as Type 1G ships. thermal loads. and insulation weight and loads by way of towers and other attachments. either with independent tanks or membranes. sloshing loads.
C r y o g e n i c s 1 9 9 3 V o l 33. Each LNG cargo tank is fitted with two pressure relief valves of equal capacity. Access to spaces considered gas-dangerous and cargo tanks is provided to allow entry and inspection by personnel wearing protective clothing and breathing apparatus.00 m 276. air inlets and openings to accommodation. Charpy V-notch toughness tests and weld production tests. loads corresponding to ship deflections. are designed to take into account combinations of various loads.00 m 46.
Ship survival capability
In connection with ship survival. cargo piping and welding requirements are especially selected and tested to suit their applications.
S u b m e r g e d cargo pumps Segregation of cargo area
The cargo area of the L N G carrier is segregated from the main machinery and boiler spaces.
Pressu re relief systems
Pressure relief systems are fitted at each cargo tank and throughout the cargo piping and set to lift at the design limit of the system. insulation.a. All air intakes and openings in the accommodation. Cargo spaces are located forward of the machinery spaces. are free to contract and expand under temperature changes and from movements of the cargo tanks or hull deflections. F. including internal and external pressure. The pressure relief valves are connected to a vent system to discharge through vent masts with outlets located as high as possible above the main deck.25 kg cm-2. A pair of electrical submerged pumps are fitted at the base of each cargo tank for discharge. piping must include mechanical expansion joints.I. A typical setting for the relief valves for a L N G carrier would be 0. Where necessary. Harris
Name Shipbuilders Owners Delivery Length o. cargo tanks. dynamic loads due to the motion of the ship. including vapour and vent lines of safety valves. Submerged pumps and their motors are cooled and lubricated by the cargo. N o 8
. Length b. Requirements include tensile tests. If the length of the ship is over ! 50 m the ship should be capable of sustaining side and bottom damage anywhere along its length and remain afloat in a condition of stable equilibrium. chain lockers. 1990 290. Power is supplied to the pump motor through stainless steel sheathed cables which pass through a gas-tight seal in the tank dome. have shut-off valves as close to the tank as possible.
Piping systems for cargo or cargo vapours are segregated from other piping systems. Minimum distances are required for the location of the cargo tanks from the side and bottom shell depending on the length of the L N G carrier. tanks and cargo weight with the corresponding reactions by way of the supports.00 m 25. electric bonding and sufficient safety relief valves. bend tests. service and control stations. except safety relief valves and liquid level gauging devices. sheer strake and bilge strake.
Cargo piping systems
Cargo piping systems. Crack arresting grades of steel are incorporated in the hull structure at the deck.S.5 knots
137 000 m 3 Moss spherical tank LNG carrier outline arrangement
M a t e r i a l s of Construction
Materials for the hull plating and stiffening. All liquid and vapour connections. Entrances.
Cargo c o n t a i n m e n t
The cargo containment systems. CometcoShippingInc. The extent of the testing depends on the design temperature.80 m 18.Safety features on LNG ships.p.50 m 11. based on assumed maximum areas of damage.
valve actuator power or fire at the tank domes or cargo manifolds. enclosed gas-dangerous spaces are provided with fixed fire extinguishing systems. boots. The damaged ship was then gas-freed.
Use of cargo as fuel
On L N G carriers the cargo boil-off vapours are utilized as fuel in the main machinery rooms and boiler rooms. Portable gas detection equipment is also carried onboard. In addition. A dry chemical powder system with at least two hand hoses or combined monitor/hand hose line is fitted to reach any part of the deck in the cargo area. Structural fire protection and equipment required for the accommodation and the ship in general are installed as per SOLAS. 1 cargo tank and the damage was repaired at a later date. for the operators. The transfer began at 23:10 hours on 10th October and was completed at 07:10 hours on 12th
Cryogenics 1993 Vol 33. The locations of the gas fuel pipe lines are carefully arranged and do not pass through any accommodation spaces with the whole system being controlled. inerted and towed to Lisbon for temporary repairs. interbarrier and hold spaces can be made inert depending on the type of containment system. as well as the boundaries of the accommodation or control rooms which face the cargo area. gas leaking was detected at the no. A fixed water spray system covers the tank
3rd October 1980: LNG Libra
On a fully loaded voyage from Bontang. The invar membrane was indented but remained liquidtight.
LNG casualty incidents
L N G carriers have been involved in collisions. membrane damage.Safety features on LNG ships: F. Cable trays broke loose and caused damage. Instruments are tested for reliability in the working conditions and recalibrated at regular intervals. deck storage tanks. Gas sampling points are provided for each cargo tank to monitor the progress of purging and gas-freeing. The equipment will take samples on a continuous basis at intervals not exceeding 30 min. groundings.
The instrumentation on a L N G carrier is extensive in order to monitor all aspects of the cargo handling systems. The following are some brief descriptions of casualty incidents. Later the vessel proceeded under her own power to the ship's original building yard at Dunkerque for full repair work. other than financial.
Fire protection and fire extinguishing
Four separate fire protection and fire extinguishing systems are available on L N G carriers. A complete set of safety equipment consists of self-contained breathing apparatus. Production is carefully monitored with alarms set at a maximum of 5 ~ oxygen content by volume. Invar strakes creased in numerous locations. The bottom shell and double bottom were extensively damaged ever almost the full length of the cargo spaces. a steel rescue line and an explosion proof lamp. No 8
Purging and inerting
Each cargo tank can be safely gas-freed and safely purged with cargo gas from a gas-freed condition. Harris
The emergency shut-down (ESD) systems on L N G ships will operate automatically due to loss of electric or control power. At least five firemen's outfits are available on a L N G carrier. There was no cargo spillage.
Certified safe type electrical equipment is fitted in gasdangerous spaces to minimize the risk of fire and explosion. In addition. A fire water main system is fitted which is capable of reaching any part of the cargo area with at least two jets of water. The systems include flame proof and intrinsically safe equipment and wiring. at various locations around the ship.
domes. As appropriate. The Philippine Authorities gave permission for the vessel to be towed to sheltered waters in Davao Gulf where the L N G was transferred to sister ship L N G Leo using two flexible cargo hoses. The vessel was refloated on 4th July and on l l t h July the transfer of the cargo of L N G to sister ship El Paso Sonatrach was completed. gloves and goggles. There has been no incident where a cargo tank containment system has ruptured and caused a spill of L N G to the sea. cargo manifolds and control valves. pressure gauges and thermometers are fitted throughout the cargo tanks and cargo handling systems. A fixed system of gas detection with audible and visual alarms is fitted with sampling heads located in all spaces where vapour may accumulate. but without any serious consequences.
19th November 1969: Polar Alaska
During L N G loading at Kenai. Level indicators. protective clothing.
29th June 1979:E1 Paso Paul Kayser
After taking avoiding action to prevent a collision in fog at 23:30 hours the 125 000 m 3 Gaz Transport membrane L N G carrier ran on to rocks and grounded in the Straits of Gibraltar when loaded with 95 500 m 3 of LNG.
Crew members engaged in cargo operations are provided with suitable safety equipment. valve and pump failures.S. liquid level alarms. 1 cargo tank primary barrier on the 71 500 m 3 Gaz Transport membrane L N G carrier. stop control points are provided to close the emergency shut-down system and stop cargo pumps and equipment as necessary. Alaska. The vessel continued in service without using the no. Inert gas is produced onboard L N G carriers from a generator located in the machinery spaces. loss of propulsion and L N G leaks during loading. ventilated and monitored. Indonesia to Japan the 126 750 m 3 Moss spherical tank L N G carrier was left without propulsion when the tail shaft fractured.
LNG Libra was then towed to Singapore for repairs. France.Safety features on LNG ships. Algeria. IHI and Mitsubishi HI in supplying information and data on their latest L N G carrier designs is gratefully acknowledged. Approximately 40~o of the double bottom was breached and open to the sea. F. Approximately l l 0 m 2 of the invar primary barrier was renewed and patches fitted at Yokohama. Permanent repairs to the containment system were completed at Marseilles in October 1990. Steelwork repairs were carried out at Marseilles and the ship returned to service in June with one of the five cargo tanks out of commission.
15th February 1989: Tellier
Moorings broke on the 40081 m 3 Technigaz membrane L N G carrier. Japan in June 1984. The vessel delivered L N G to Fos.
The safe transportation of L N G by sea now spans 34 years. 3 cargo tank. The vessel was taken to the roads for gas-freeing and inspection. The tank was discharged without further incident. The vessel was refloated on 16th December and then towed to Tobata where the full cargo of L N G was discharged on 18th December. Developments have been gradual. with all components both large and small thoroughly tried and tested before being used in practice. I cargo tank on the 130000 m 3 Gaz Transport membrane L N G carrier. near the end of a loaded voyage from Bontang. L N G from the no. Severe weather conditions with gale force winds and 3 m waves around the vessel hampered the salvage operations. Japan. Harris
October. Repairs were later carried out at St Nazaire. Indonesia to Tobata. during L N G loading at Skikda.
The assistance received from Chantiers de l'Atlantique and Japanese shipbuilders N K K . This brief presentation shows that the safety features of L N G carriers have in no small way contributed to the excellent operational record. due to 160 km h 1 winds. Four terminal loading arms were damaged and L N G leaked to the main deck causing extensive damage to the steelwork and upper primary and secondary barriers in the no.
14th June 1985: Isabella
A cargo valve failed on the 35491 m a Gaz Transport membrane L N G carrier at the beginning of the L N G discharge at Barcelona. 1 cargo tank overflowed on to the main deck. 5 cargo tank membrane on the 126 190 m 3 Gaz Transport membrane L N G carrier.S. Extensive repairs were required resulting from the spill. Skikda.
12th December 1980: LNG Taurus
The 126750m 3 Moss spherical tank L N G carrier grounded in strong winds at Mutsure Anchorage. Algeria.
9th February 1984: Ramdane Abane
During the discharge of Algerian L N G at Montoir. Fuel from the bunkers was transferred to a barge and the damaged ballast spaces pressurized. France on 16th February. Spain after a voyage from
Cryogenics 1993 Vol 33.
June 1983: Tenaga Satu
Cargo pump defects caused damage to the no. causing severe cracks to the steelwork. Several suction manifolds were also found to be cracked. France a cargo leak was noted through the no. No 8