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Liquefied natural gases (LNG) -marine transport & accidents in LNG tankers

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) compresses to a small fraction of its original volume (approximately 1/600) under liquefaction. With the amount of flammable material that LNG contains, it has the potential to be an extremely dangerous chemical, if handled improperly. The liquefaction of natural gas raised the possibility of its transportation to many destinations.

The LNG fleet delivers more than 110 million metric tons annually to ports around the world. Accidental spillage of liquefied natural gases are rare with no significant cargo losses. . This safety record is attributable to continuously improving tanker technology, tanker safety equipment, comprehensive safety procedures, training, equipment maintenance, and effective administration oversight.

The most severe accident that may realistically occur to a loaded LNG tanker is the breach of one or more storage tanks, with consequent discharge of liquefied natural gas outboard. No accidents leading to loss of cargo have occurred over the history of maritime liquefied natural gas transportation. This safety record is at least partially due to the double-hulled construction of LNG tankers and the separation between the LNG cargo tank and the inner hull, which effectively makes the cargo tank's wall a third safety barrier to outside penetrations.

Rapid phase transitions are physical explosions caused by rapid vaporization of liquefied natural gas that do not involve combustion or burning. When liquefied natural gas flows on water, it forms a thin vapor film that separates it from the water. In locations of vigorous mixing, this film can be breached and LNG can come into direct contact with water. Under those conditions the LNG can undergo rapid evaporation, causing a rapid phase transition. In past spill experiments, rapid phase transitions have been observed at the first point of mixing with water and at the leading edge of a spill.

Mixing is known to be the most vigorous at these two locations. Rapid phase transitions are much less energetic than combustion explosions. Unconfined rapid phase transitions are generally not considered hazardous; however, these can cause structural damage if they were to occur in a confined space.

Related Information:

  1. How to tackle fire on board LNG ship

  2. Cargo Machinery Room Precautions

  3. Fire fighting plan for LNG cargo

  4. LNG spill risk during marine transportation

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