Why Does the Resupply LNG Tanker Not Simply Replace the Empty Tanker?


Safety must be the major concern when handling LNG


Liquid natural gas (LNG) is dangerous when in vapour form and it has enough oxygen present to allow any spark to ignite the dangerous mixture.

LNG is relatively safe when a tank is full; it is very difficult to get a full canister of LNG to explode.  It has been shown many times that it is possible to fire a penetrating tracer shell through a full canister of LNG without it exploding.  If you try the same experiment with a partially full canister its violent destruction is guaranteed.

It has reported earlier, that the LNG tanker that will feed the Delimara power station is to be resupplied, at its mooring, by an effectively identical sister ship.  As natural gas is at its most dangerous when tanks are effectively empty or pipe connections are being made.

Questions raised by critics:

Why does the resupply tanker not simply replace the empty tanker, thus speeding the resupply process and reducing the dangers of refuelling considerably?

Greater control over the timing of the replacement will be required to ensure that the berthed supply tanker is effectively empty before she is replaced but this discipline will, as a bonus, reduce the frequency of changeovers.

Even if the connections to the power station are too special to allow the easy swapping of LNG vessels, why not do the actual refuelling well out to sea?

The proposed system envisages the power station supply being cut off and the LNG tanker being moved away in bad weather.  So why not use this ability to sever the gas supply temporarily and make the whole business of refuelling as safe as it can possibly be?

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Source: Times of Malta


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