Please Enter a Search Term

News Releases

REF NO.: 292

SUBJECT: First international forum on compressed natural gas yields a number of recommendations for an emerging industry
DATE: July 7, 2004

A large international gathering focused on issues related to the marine transportation of compressed natural gas (CNG) has resulted in recommendations that will greatly advance this new, emerging industry.

With support from the Centre for Marine Compressed Natural Gas (CMCNG) at Memorial University of Newfoundland, more than 50 delegates representing commercial and governmental organizations from Canada, the United States, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium gathered from June 22-24, 2004, for the 1st International Marine CNG Standards Forum. The group was comprised of representatives from flag and coastal state administrations (USCG, Canadian CG, Transport Canada), class societies (ABS, DNV, Lloyds, BV), six CNG technology developers, shipping companies, oil companies, industry organizations and leading research institutions, such as Institut Français du Pétrole, the Gas Technology Institute, and Memorial University.

Jim Gaughan, organizing chair for the forum, said the primary objectives of the forum were to educate and promote understanding of the requirements for marine transport of CNG and to encourage open dialogue on standards and guidelines. "I believe we exceeded our expectations with this gathering," he said. "An open discussion amongst these experts was invaluable as a giant step forward in setting important standards and guidelines for this new industry."

The groundbreaking forum ended with a series of recommendations aligned with and even exceeding safety standards already employed by the historically safe, liquefied natural gas industry. The recommendations address the distinctiveness of CNG marine transport in terms of hazards management, while recognizing technical advances in design, analysis, and materials for containment structures. While there was valuable consensus on many safety and regulatory aspects of the rapidly evolving industry, the forum also identified a number of work areas and tasks that can be undertaken by or led through the CMCNG. Gaughan noted, "It is reassuring to see how close the perspectives of the various regulators and class society representatives are on key matters relating to the safe introduction of a new marine transport industry. Differences in perspectives and published guidance regarding safe practices are a real historical feature of the maritime industry. Only recently have the world's leading class societies agreed to a unified set of standards for the tanker industry, while LNG carrier rules may continue to differ for some years yet. Unification of guidance for CNG carriers appears likely to be on a track well aligned with initiatives in guidance for existing LNG and LPG transport."

The forum participants see the CMCNG playing a pivotal role as the technology for CNG advances. "Memorial, along with its partner industries, have been at the forefront of this innovative technique for delivering stranded gas via ocean transport," said Dr. Jim Wright, director of major research partnerships with MemorialUniversity. "We have the research capabilities, the specialized facility and the ideal location to develop marine transportation of CNG from offshore. We're looking forward to working with experts from around the world to create solutions that will allow us to access stranded natural gas, for the benefit of our region and for many other regions."

Centre for Marine Compressed Natural Gas

Industry, in partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland, has led the way in creating the Centre for Marine Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), the world's first research and development facility dedicated to the efficient, safe and competitive transportation, storage, handling and usage of compressed natural gas. The centre is a federally incorporated not-for-profit entity located on the campus of Memorial University in St. Johns, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. This world-class, open-access, CNG centre is also establishing a large-scale, dynamic testing facility for research and development dedicated to marine transport of CNG.

Funding for the centre has come from industry and government, including matching financial support provided by the Canadian government's Atlantic Innovation Fund. The centre will engage industry and other research entities in conducting collaborative research and development programs to meet industry-wide needs and to provide contract research and development services to clients worldwide.


Communiqué from the First International

Marine Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Standards Forum

The findings of the first international marine compressed natural gas standards forum include:

a. Increasing global demand for clean energy has created world-wide interest and identified real commercial opportunities for CNG projects.

b. The marine transportation of CNG must match or exceed the very high level of safety established by the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry over the past 40 years.

c. While some of the same hazards associated with transporting LNG are also applicable to CNG, CNG has some unique features that must be addressed.

d. Many parts of the IMO gas code are considered applicable to CNG carriers.

e. Proper design of the high pressure gas containment systems should take advantage of the technical advances that have taken place since the development of the IMO gas code. This would include improved methods for computer stress analysis and fatigue evaluations, and the introduction of probabilistic limit state analysis techniques as well as state of the art methods of non-destructive testing (NDT) during construction and for continuous and periodic inspections.

f. Consistent with current prudent practice for developing new technologies Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) methods should be employed.

g. Since the composition and quality of the gas transported can vary greatly, it is important that gas specifications be defined for each project.

The following recommendations were made for the Centre for Marine Compressed Natural Gas (CMCNG):

1. The CMCNG should form and coordinate a standards working group in order to:

a. Track the evolution of CNG technology and projects;

b. Identify industry needs and issues relating to standards and the regulation standardization process and;

c. Track and regularly report on progress in the evolution of guidelines, rules, standards and regulations.

2. The CMCNG should conduct evaluations of the codes.

3. The CMCNG should:

a. Develop and maintain a generic hazards register for the industry that can serve as a baseline or check-list model for individual projects;

b. Develop gas handling testing guidelines;

c. Carry out operational availability studies;

d. Investigate the various condition monitoring techniques;

e. Investigate the effects of high pressure gas jet behaviour and;

f. Develop a matrix exploring the effects of various possible elements in the gas on material selection for the containment and handling systems and with respect to risks to personnel and the environment.

The CMCNG plans to build on the success of this first standards forum and to adopt the forum recommendations by convening subsequent forums to further advance the development of CNG as an energy source.

- 30 -