Safe LNG Transfer and the Revision of the EN 1474-2 Standard

By Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg’s marine and infrastructure operation, and Vincent Lagarrigue, Director of Trelleborg’s oil and marine operation

Ever since the International Maritime Organization first agreed to limit the sulphur content in all marine fuels to 0.5 percent beginning in 2020, we’ve seen a substantial rise in the demand for LNG bunkering infrastructure. Now that we have arrived in 2020, we’re sensing a real urgency is permeating the industry, as ports and ship owners alike ensure that they are compliant.

In addition, the appetite for LNG as a power source continues to boom. In China, for example, imports of LNG could reach 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2025, according to a senior executive from China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). As a matter of fact, this unprecedented demand has given rise to two entirely new vessel classes – the Wuhumax, a 40,000-cbm mid-sized LNG carrier, and Wuhanmax, a 28,500-cbm LNG vessel. New records are also being set in Turkey, where LNG imports reached a historic record high of 2.34 bcm in January 2019.

As the industry continues to expand and diversify at a rapid pace against a backdrop of shifting economic and environmental trends, we run the risk of building an entirely new sector on unstable ground. Overcoming these challenges, especially those around safety, requires collaboration, innovation and co-operation between a broad range of stakeholders. And nowhere is this truer than in the LNG transfer zone.

When the first release of EN 1474-2 - the European standard for the design and testing of LNG transfer hoses - was drafted back in 2008, the use of hoses to transfer LNG was very much in its infancy. At the time, most industry expertise lay in LNG loading arms, rather than composite hoses – which, as a result, left a lot of room for more prescriptive tests and acceptance criteria.

Since that time, the industry has evolved tremendously, with new concepts and innovations for offshore LNG transfer now, or soon to be, in operation. As the sector grows, it’s imperative that we ensure the framework for safety and operability of LNG transfer equipment remains relevant to the industry that it serves.

Since the inception of our Cryoline hose-in-hose transfer solution in 2016, Trelleborg has been at the forefront of LNG transfer for 20 years. The introduction of Cryoline in 2016 is a natural progression of our thought leadership and approach to innovation in this sector.

Trelleborg’s expertise also extends to LNG applications, such as the bunkering of LNG as a marine fuel, which is carried out in a safe, timely and controlled manner. Therefore, the process has to include effective communication between all parties; all stakeholders must have a holistic overview of the entire process arrangement.

Trelleborg’s Universal Safety Link (USL) is an innovative product that takes the company’s expertise in large-scale LNG transfer applications, develops it and applies it to provide an optimized product for the burgeoning and diverse small and mid-scale LNG sectors. By utilizing the ISO 20519 compliant USL, not only can marine transportation companies integrate the emergency shutdown systems of the facility and vessels, but they can also benefit from a full overview of the process parameters on both sides of the link.

Trelleborg’s long-standing commitment to driving up safety and efficiency standards across offshore LNG transfer, meant that it was only natural that we be involved in the revision of the EN 1474-2 when the time came around. Starting with a kick-off meeting in July 2018, we joined a working group of hose and gas operators, ship owners, class societies and scientists to undertake a comprehensive revision of the existing standard, using our extensive knowledge and experience in fluid transfer solutions to determine where changes and additions could be made to ensure long-term safety in a rapidly evolving sector.

The previous standard was, by necessity, very broad, as it was operating in an undefined landscape. The revision of this standard will better reflect the diversity of applications, as well as the different requirements needed depending on whether the hose is aerial, floating, and used in protected or weather exposed location. The working group has also introduced meaningful test criteria for the qualifications tests to further improve reliability of the hose and guarantee the highest level of safety.

At the same time, however, the revised standard still reflects a sector that is still evolving rapidly, so includes room to innovate. This new revision will come into force in 2021, following an industry-wide consultation of the document submitted by the working group, and will ensure we further raise and align standards of LNG transfer systems while continuing to build towards a safer, more prosperous industry.