Authorities say Skangass spillage during Fjord Line ferry refuelling could have become ‘major accident’
Norway’s civil defence authorities are conducting an investigation into a serious leak of LNG that occurred during truck-to-ship bunkering operations involving a cruise ferry last month.
Torill Tandberg, department director for industry, products and hazardous substances at the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB), says 100 kilograms of LNG leaked from the hose connection in the bunkering room onboard Fjord Line’s 1,500-passengership newbuilding Bergensfjord on 9 May at Risavika.
Tandberg says the hose disconnect appears to have occurred because the ship’s stabilising systems were not engaged.
“This was a very serious incident that had the potential to become a major accident,” Tandberg said.
“The people working onshore were in danger. It is very important that we learn from this.”
She says there have been other LNG marine bunkering incidents in Norway – one just recently involving a ferry – although nothing as serious as this.
The Bergensfjord LNG leak and confirmation that there have been other incidents is likely to sound something of a wake-up call for the emerging LNG fuelling sector, industry players say.
Tandberg says DSB instructed Fjord Line’s LNG supplier, Skangass-controlled Risavika LNG Production, last Friday that it would have to follow additional safety procedures if LNG bunkering operations are to continue.
These included an extension of the safety area around the ship, a ban on loading passengers and cars while bunkering is in progress and the addition of extra personnel from the supplier on the quayside during operations.
DSB inspectors went on site on Tuesday to observe bunkering and will produce a report on their investigations, which will be made public, the director says.
The incident comes just two months after the Norwegian authorities bowed to pressure to allow ship-to-truck bunkering operations at Risavika while passengers are boarding, in advance of the completion of a dedicated LNG pipeline to the berth that is due in service by September. Prior to this, Fjord Line had been forced to take on its LNG in Denmark.
Skangass, which is now owned by Finnish company Gasum and Norway’s Lyse, said in a statement that no one was injured and the vessel was not damaged as a result of the leak.
The company said: “Due to the incident, Skangass and Risavika LNG Production implemented additional preventive actions in order to increase safety when bunkering. An investigation has been performed in co-operation with Fjord Line.”
“We are looking very seriously at the incident,” said Skangass chief executive Tor Morten Osmundsen. “It is important that we learn from our experiences and secure that the technical and organizational preventative actions are implemented in a good manner.”
Skangass did not respond to questions from TradeWinds.