Ethane of maritime origin and demand for a new type of vessel


Lloyd’s Register report examines the business landscape, regulatory issues, and technical realities of a new ethane business resulting from increased gas production in the United States – and the technology required for major carriers of gasoline. ‘ethane

The US ethane production capacity, as a by-product of the total increase in US gas production, is underutilized. There is a potential for annual exports of 1 million metric tons of ethane to provide jobs at 0.18 million cubic meters of shipping capacity if shipped to Northern Europe, 0.32 Mn Additional Cu M if shipped to Southeast Asia and a similar amount to China via Panama. Channel. Projects are now underway to produce and displace this ethane.

Seaborne Ethane: a Report into the Commercial Need and Technical Requirements for Very Large Ethane Carriers, published today by Lloyd’s Register (LR), examines the risks and challenges of developing a safe and efficient ethane trade at using larger vessels requiring specific ethane techniques. solutions.

“The window of opportunity to immobilize ethane exports and secure the tonnage to serve this trade is now open to supply potential markets in Europe and Asia,” said Tim Protheroe, president of Lloyd’s Register North America Inc., “Lloyd’s Register has identified the risks and the best technical avenues to help ensure that the near term demand for large ELVs can be met by shipyards and gas containment system suppliers. than working with regulatory bodies such as the US Coast Guard and flag administrations to ensure that the risks are understood. “

One of the critical factors to consider is the containment technology used in the Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs), as traders seek out the most efficient shipping options.

Leonidas Karistios, Global Gas Technology Manager, Lloyd’s Register, said: “We have been studying the potential of ethane for over a year and asked ourselves: ‘What would a safe and efficient 80,000 m3 LNG carrier look like? ? “. The answer is that transporting larger quantities in a single hull will almost certainly require the adoption of alternatives to Type “C” gas containment systems.

Historically, ethane has been transported in small liquefied ethane / ethylene (LEC) carriers designed and built to transport ethylene (boiling point -104 ° C) as well as ethane and others. “normal” LPG cargoes. All of these ships have Type “C” containment systems and it is estimated that the maximum achievable size of a ship with Type “C” cargo tanks is approximately 40,000 m3. “It is not impossible that ‘C’ type tanks can function, and it is important to continue to review the technology under development,” said Karistios.

The study assesses all the technological options of the tanks and identifies that, for LNG carriers of 80,000 m3 and more, the adoption of type “B” prismatic tanks or membrane systems would probably provide the best technical design paths – on the base of a ship with three to four tanks.

Lloyd’s Register has worked with major shipyards on variant tank technology options and with containment designers, such as GTT, to identify technical solutions for large LNG carriers. For example, the report indicates that the suitability of GTT systems for multigas applications has been demonstrated. And that the methodology for evaluating GTT’s containment systems under the specific and different constraints – compared to LNG, for which GTT’s reservoir technologies were originally developed – required for ethane, has been approved by Lloyd’s Register. The first evaluations with multigas loads have been carried out while GTT’s Mark III, Mark III Flex, NO96 and NO96-L03 systems are also being studied for their suitability.

An advantage of ethane is that, like with LNG, the cargo can be used to fuel the engine of an ethane transporter. But this requires that specific risks be addressed. Lloyd’s Register and MAN Diesel worked together on an ethane engine project and LR has already issued an AiP for the ME-GI ethane combustion engine. MAN Diesel has agreed to make the necessary design changes to the methane version of the ME-GI and to be able to supply the engines for the fourth quarter of 2015, for a scheduled delivery of the vessel in June 2016, and submitted the documentation required for approval in principle. .

Some of the changes required to accommodate the higher pressure required for ethane include redesigned fuel valves, control block and piping as well as some hardware modifications. However, while these are not negligible, the conceptual engine design and risk management philosophy will have a very high degree of similarity to the LPG-powered ME-LGI engine which is already approved by Lloyd’s Register. LR is therefore ideally placed to advise on the underlying assumptions and experience behind an effective risk management strategy for a project. In addition, as ethane is not included in the International Gas Code, Lloyd’s Register is also seeking approval from flag administrations for the use of ethane as a fuel.

Karistios concluded: “We qualify the application of existing technology for new purposes and the introduction of new technologies. Our aim is to help ensure that everyone involved in the ethane transport chain can be confident that their investments are as safe as possible and doing what is expected. of them.”


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