Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shipping Lines Must Accept Older LNG Vessels Have to Stand Scrutiny as They Age

Safety is the Watchword for what is a New Set of Problems Posed by Gas Transport
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH KOREA – With the new demand for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and for suitable vessels to transport it, it is essential that ships, even when originally designed to carry what after all is a highly dangerous and volatile cargo with its own unique demands as regards storage, transfer etc., are shown to be practical, safe and economically viable as they get older. With exactly this in mind operator Hyundai Ocean Service Co. Ltd. (HDOS) has chosen Lloyd’s Register Marine Consulting (LR) as the independent service provider for the Longevity Study on its 1994 built, 273 metre long, 71,909 dwt, LNG Carrier Hyundai Utopia.

The Hyundai Utopia was the very LNG vessel registered in the country and was initially signed up for a twenty year contract by owners Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) to service the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS). Since then the HMM group has developed into Korea’s largest LNG vessel provider carrying over 7.5 million tonnes per annum, accounting for some 22% of the country’s domestic imports. The President of HDOS, the group formed last August when HMM separated vessel management services from operations, Taek-Gyu Lee, met with LR’s Korea Chief Representative, Soo-Young Lee at the HDOS office in Busan, South Korea this week to personally sign the contract during a special ceremony. Taek-Gyu Lee said:

“We know that charterers of LNG ships are quite understandably concerned whether older ships can be relied on to remain in service before signing up for new long-term charters of the type common in the LNG business. We, [at] HDOS, know that Lloyd’s Register’s experience with ships in service is indeed recognised by many LNG ship owners, even those who may not have classed their ships with LR initially.

“There is a high risk that without appropriate experience, expertise and a documented database the Longevity Study may invite serious trials and errors, resulting in double effort and possible unexpected/excessive refurbishment cost and time due to the project complexity. HDOS respects [that] Lloyd’s Register’s known strengths are mainly the vast experience and know-how gained through a number of similar projects in the past, having worldwide specialists who have the experience and knowledge basis for conducting such a project to suit HDOS requirements.

“I believe that this independent study is the key to the overall success of the business between HDOS and the Korea Gas Corporation. It is the only way to ensure that safety standards are maintained throughout the operation of the vessel. We are pleased to continue this successful relationship with Lloyd’s Register.”

The Longevity Study will assess the condition of the ship and will recommend a maintenance regime and any actions necessary to extend the lifespan beyond that anticipated at the time of construction. Whilst such a course of action may satisfy the Owner’s commercial requirements, vis-à-vis avoiding new-building costs, third parties, such as Charterers or Insurers, will require an independent verification of the proposed longevity to satisfy their interests.

An immediate benefit from the programme is identification of remedial work from the inspection prior to entering refit. These items can be included in the docking specification rather than being discovered later avoiding unplanned costs and extension of the refit period. The long term benefit in improving the ship’s reliability is the reduction in future unplanned maintenance events, normally associated with older ships. Soo-Young Lee, concluded:

“We are proud of our relationship with HDOS. The four LNG vessels in the current HDOS fleet remain in class with LR since delivery from the shipyard. HDOS is a very important client of LR, with whom we have worked continuously, bringing wide recognition of LR’s services within Korean ship owning/managing circles. LR is pleased to support HDOS for this study, and it is testament to the success of LR’s ability to respond to the on-going needs of the Korean shipping community.

“We look forward to working with Taek-Gyu Lee and his team at HDOS, to develop opportunities for co-operation and future business. This contract will help HDOS to gain confidence and reputation with charterers by publicising that their vessel has gone through a Longevity Study.”

Photo: The Hyundai Utopia under way.