Delimara LNG tanker is to be ‘disconnected’ in storms
The gas tanker feeding the new power plant in Delimara will have to be “disconnected” for up to three days each time there is a storm, documents that have just been published show.
The refilling of the massive tanker will be done through a similar vessel in Marsaxlokk bay itself in a ship-to-ship transfer operation, which takes five days every time. This means that, for almost one every six weeks, two LNG tankers will be moored inside the bay.
This information emerges from a raft of documents and studies released as part of the compulsory environmental permitting process being conducted by the Environment and Resources Authority.
The government had refused to publish any of the studies, preferring to wait till the public consultation process started.
The available documents indicate that some of the studies were updated and/or concluded just a few days ago even though, originally, the new power plant had to start operations in March 2015.
A glance at the voluminous documents published shows that the controversial LNG tanker was fitted by a Singapore shipyard during a conversion job to stay permanently moored in Marsaxlokk for 18 years.
Although the Prime Minister and Electrogas, the private owners of the new power plant, had said the tanker would sail out once an LNG pipeline was installed, the documents show that the tanker would will be able to move on its own steam because its propulsion system will be dismantled a year after she is moored.
“After she arrives in Malta, the FSU (floating storage unit) will be demobilised, such as the steam-driven propulsion system and associated main boilers will be taken out of service”, one document says.
“Should the vessel have to move from the jetty after she is demobilised, she will either winch off onto the storm moorings or, if necessary, disconnect from the storm mooring system and be taken by tug to an alternative anchoring location,” it continues.
After she arrives in Malta, the FSU will be demobilised
According to the documents, through the FSU, emissions produced by marine fuel could increase during the first year of the FSU operations as the tanker would have to keep its engines running until the permanent mooring system was in place.
“During the mobilised period (circa one year) it will be necessary for the existing main boilers (of the ship) to be kept operational,” a study says.
“Once the FSU is demobilised, the operations will change to use the two new custom fitted auxiliary boilers which have improved performance but are sized only to cater from the needs of a demobilised vessel (just cargo operations).”
The study also shows that the vessel would have to move from the jetty in case of storms. This is calculated to take place between three and four times a year and last for about three days every time.
In case of storm weather, the vessel would be winched off the jetty through a specially-designed storm mooring system and be disconnected from the LNG terminal. It is not yet known how the supply of LNG will affect the power plant during these occasions. According to the documents, the FSU would have to be refilled every six to eight weeks in two 24-hour periods by an LNG carrier, resulting in an estimated 13 to 18 ship-to-ship transfer operations a year.
The whole operation is not straightforward and is expected to take five days each time.
Two ship-to ship transfers are needed for every load because the FSU cannot be allowed to ‘run dry’, it being the only such storage facility in Malta.
“Thus, the LNG carrier will initially offload the majority of the cargo over a 24-hour period, de-moor and leave the harbour and wait out at sea while sufficient LNG is converted into natural gas, burnt in the respective power plants and there is sufficient storage capacity available in the FSU to take the rest of the LNG cargo,” the report states.
The published documents show the area to be affected by a vapour cloud explosion – yellow circleThe published documents show the area to be affected by a vapour cloud explosion – yellow circle
What was published and why?
The new gas-fired power plant in Delimara requires not only development permits but also those of an environmental nature, the so-called integrated pollution prevention and control, before it can start operating.
EU laws oblige the ERA to have a 30-day public consultation period prior to the granting of the necessary permits. As part of this process, the regulator is also bound to publish all the related applications and studies and to hold a public meeting.
The ERA kick-started the public consultation process by publishing more than 50 documents related to the permit requirements and studies on every aspect of the new plant, ranging from its impact on marine biology to risk assessments of the project in case of inclement weather.
Members of the public and interested parties can make comments and objections on the granting of the permit. These too will be eventually published and taken into consideration during a public ERA meeting to determine whether to grant the permit or not.
Source: Times of Malta