Banned in Boston, LNG tanker will unload in Savannah

Sam Fletcher
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, Oct. 3 -- A tanker loaded with liquefied natural gas, banned from Boston harbor as a potential target for terrorists, will become the first vessel to offload at El Paso Corp.'s newly reactivated LNG import terminal at Elba Island near Savannah, Ga., officials said Wednesday.

Distrigas of Massachusetts LLC rerouted the LNG tanker Matthew to the Southern LNG Inc. facility at Elba Island after the US Coast Guard refused to let the vessel unload as scheduled last week at the Distrigas marine terminal in Everett, Mass., outside of Boston.

Company officials told OGJ Online they've already agreed to "certain permanent changes" in security for the Everett terminal and the operation of LNG vessels in Boston's harbor that are not being imposed at the other three US LNG ports.

Yet there was no indication from Coast Guard officials Wednesday as to when the ban against LNG imports through that terminal may be lifted. "I think they're still discussing it," a spokeswoman at Coast Guard headquarters in Boston told OGJ Online.

Distrigas officials describe their Everett terminal as the oldest and longest operating of four LNG terminals in the US. Since 1971, it has taken delivery of 438 LNG cargoes, accounting for more than half of all the LNG imported into the US.

The LNG tanker was denied access to Boston harbor "because we need to be sure we've done everything we can to provide a safe environment for this vessel's transit through the port and during its product transfer operation at the dock," said Coast Guard Capt. Brian Salerno, captain of the Boston port and commanding officer of the USGS Marine Safety Office there.

In that statement issued Sept. 26, Salerno said, "My job as captain of the Port of Boston is to take actions to prevent injury or damage to waterway users, vessels, waterfront facilities, and ports in my area of responsibility. ... Since Sept 11, the dynamics of that role have changed."

He did not say why only the LNG tanker was banned, however. Industry sources confirmed that other tankers are being permitted to enter Boston harbor and to unload cargoes of gasoline and fuel oil (OGJ Online, Sept. 14, 2001). Coast Guard officials said Wednesday they had nothing to add to Salerno's original statement.

"Boston does have some unique safety factors. It is a real risk," said Mary Menino, manager of the natural gas practice at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Mass.

LNG tankers entering that harbor can only come in at low tide so that they can squeeze under a bridge spanning those waters, she said. Moreover, their passageway is through the inner city, "right past the financial district."

Unlike tankers that carry oil or refined products, no LNG tanker or terminal anywhere in the world has ever suffered an explosion or major fire, said LNG industry officials. LNG tankers were being built with double hulls and bottoms to minimize accidental impact on cargo tanks long before those safety features were required for oil tankers.

Natural gas cannot burn in its liquid state, which is achieved by chilling it to -260° F. Moreover, natural gas itself has a narrow range for flammability and will not burn in concentrations of less than 5% or more than 15% mixed with air, said Distrigas officials. And it can't explode if not confined.

However, liquefying natural gas reduces it to 1/600th of its original volume, cramming a greater amount within a smaller space in the tanker or storage facility. If the gas aboard an LNG tanker could be ignited or exploded "it would be a fireball," Menino said.

Boston news media reported estimates that such an explosion could obliterate a 4-mile area, destroying most of downtown Boston.

Salerno was among the participants in a 2-day LNG safety-training seminar in Boston in June that was jointly sponsored by the Coast Guard, Lloyd's Register Americas Inc., and Cabot LNG LLC, which owns Distrigas and the Distrigas Marine LNG import terminal in Everett. An internet report of that seminar said, "Boston is recognized as the USCG's center of excellence with regards to LNG vessels in the Unites States." It also praised Distrigas' "stellar, blemish-free safety record."

Distrigas officials say they're now trying to get that message across to Boston residents. "We recognize the impact of the events of Sept. 11. However, we also recognize the importance of LNG to the New England energy supply, particularly as we approach the winter heating season. We look forward to working with the Coast Guard, the mayors of Boston and Everett, and with the governor to resume safe transportation of LNG into New England as soon as possible," company officials said.

Southern LNG, a subsidiary of El Paso Corp., began an open season in September to expand its Elba Island terminal by 80% (OGJ Online, Sept. 11, 2001). The planned in-service date for the $145 million expansion is 2005, subject to receiving adequate firm subscriptions and necessary regulatory approvals.

The Elba Island facility had been inactive since 1982 but was scheduled to begin receiving LNG shipments in late September. Officials said volumes would reach the design sendout of 440 MMcfd in 2003.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

Quicksilver Canada gets LNG export approval

07/02/2015 Quicksilver Resources Canada Inc. has received approval from the National Energy Board of Canada to export 20 million tonnes/year of LNG from a pos...

Origin lets contract for Otway basin fields

07/02/2015 Origin Energy Ltd., Sydney, has let a $1.3 million (Aus.) contract to Wood Group Kenny for provision of a detailed engineering design for the onsho...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...

Woodside-led Browse FLNG venture enters FEED phase

07/01/2015 The Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-led Browse LNG joint venture has entered the front-end engineering and design phase for a floating LNG (FLNG) developme...

Case for Keystone XL has grown stronger, TransCanada tells Kerry

06/30/2015 Canada is taking strong steps toward combating climate change, and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline crude oil pipeline remains in the US national ...

Lytle named to Canada’s National Energy Board

06/30/2015

Murray Lytle has been appointed as a full-time member of Canada’s National Energy Board for a term of 7 years, effective July 6.

White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected