Elec­tro­gas in­stalling storm moor­ing sys­tem for LNG tanker

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - David Lind­say and Rachel At­tard

Elec­tro­gas, the op­er­a­tors of the new De­li­mara power sta­tion, is in the process of in­stalling con­tin­gency mea­sures for the LNG tanker, also known as a Float­ing Stor­age Unit, for oc­ca­sions when strong south­ern and south-east­erly winds bat­ter Marsaxlokk Bay, The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day has learnt.

Although the risk as­sess­ment stud­ies con­nected to the new power sta­tion’s LNG float­ing stor­age unit have been kept un­der wraps, Elec­tro­gas project man­ager Cather­ine Halpin was forth­com­ing in her replies to this news­pa­per on the is­sue of con­tin­gency plans in the event of storms that are known to lash the bay.

It was re­cently brought to this news­pa­per’s at­ten­tion that prob­lems would in­evitably arise when storms hit the bay, in par­tic­u­lar from the south and south­east, and that the LNG tanker would have to dis­en­gage from the jetty to which it at­taches to feed LNG to the power sta­tion. In such in­stances, an al­ter­na­tive elec­tric­ity sup­ply would have to be used.

Ques­tioned by this news­pa­per about the sub­ject this week, Ms Halpin ex­plained that Elec­tro­gas is, in ac­tual fact, cur­rently in the process of in­stalling what is known as a Spread Moor­ing Sys­tem, which is what the FSU re­sort to as a safety mea­sure dur­ing se­vere southerly and south-east­erly storms.

The use of such a sys­tem, Ms Halpin said, “will avoid the FSU hav­ing to leave the har­bour by pro­vid­ing a safe moor­ing. Ocean In­staller, an ex­pe­ri­enced sub­sea and ma­rine oper­a­tions contractor are in­stalling the moor­ing sys­tem over the next two weeks”.

The moor­ing sys­tem, she said, will be con­nected to the FSU by way of cus­tom-built winches on its deck, which will be held slack when it is not in use.

She added, “This means it is al­ways con­nected and ready for use, but not im­pact­ing nav­i­ga­tion to other ves­sels. When the moor­ing sys­tem needs to be used, the winches shall pull in on the chains and the FSU shall move out a short dis­tance into the bay.

“It will be safe here to ride out the storm, with a full dou­ble in­stal­la­tion of chains and an­chors at ev­ery cor­ner of the ship. Then when the sea con­di­tions are re­duced it can winch back onto the jetty.”

Ms Halpin said that when there are strong winds from other di­rec­tions, in­clud­ing the pre­vail­ing north­west wind, there is ad­e­quate shel­ter for the FSU and the jetty has been de­signed for that.

Al­ter­na­tive en­ergy source re­quired for down­time pe­ri­ods

In in­stances when such down­time is re­quired, another source of en­ergy will be re­quired to pro­vide elec­tric­ity to the coun­try, but that will be in Ene­malta’s hands. Such sources could in­clude ei­ther the Chi­nese-owned BWSC plant or the Malta-Si­cily elec­tric­ity in­ter­con­nec­tor.

The mat­ter, how­ever, lies be­yond Elec­tro­gas’ re­mit, as Ms Halpin ex­plained: “With re­gard to the al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources, it is not our place to say what Ene­malta would choose to do, how­ever we know they are fully pre­pared.”

Stud­ies car­ried out by Elec­tro­gas in­di­cate that the storm moor­ing sys­tem will rarely be re­quired for use.

Ms Halpin said that, “Dur­ing the short pe­ri­ods of time the FSU is away on the spread moor­ing, LNG will not be sent to shore and other backup en­ergy sources will be used. The pres­ence and use of backup elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion sys­tems is quite nor­mal to cover for down­time for main­te­nance and so on, so this would be con­sid­ered at de­sign stage.

“There will be no on­shore stor­age of LNG as per our En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment rec­om­men­da­tions. We have en­sured a high re­dun­dancy of equip­ment within our fa­cil­i­ties to min­imise down­time for main­te­nance.”

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