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INTERTANKO

GAS AND MARINE SEMINAR

Blending/Commingling of LPG Cargoes On Board


Gas Carriers.
Mr Stefanos Karakelles
Senior Manager Gas(LPG)

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LPG Blending and SOLAS Regulation VI 5-2

• At its 90th session in 2012, the IMO Maritime Safety


Committee adopted SOLAS Regulation VI 5-2.
• SOLAS Regulation VI 5-2 consists of 4 paragraphs and is
the result of lengthy deliberations at IMO beginning in
2005 and finally concluding in 2011 when MSC 89
approved the draft of SOLAS Regulation VI 5-2 and
authorized its circulation for subsequent approval at MSC
90
• The paragraph which is of importance with regards to LPG
blending is para .1:

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LPG Blending and SOLAS Regulation VI 5-2

.1 The physical blending of bulk liquid cargoes during sea


voyages is prohibited. Physical blending refers to the
process whereby the ship's cargo pumps and pipelines are
used to internally circulate two or more different cargoes
with the intent to achieve a cargo with a new product
designation. This prohibition does not preclude the master
from undertaking cargo transfers for the safety of the ship
or protection of the marine environment.

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LPG Blending and SOLAS Regulation VI 5-2

This Paragraph makes it clear that LPG Blending


during sea voyages is prohibited. Although IMO
decided that LPG blending cannot be performed
during sea voyages, it felt that it was beyond its
remit to specify if LPG blending should be allowed
within port limits.

It has therefore been left to each port state/port


authority to define the respective port location,
limits and circumstances under which blending may
be undertaken in each port.
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Reasons for Blending

LPG Blending is being performed on board gas carriers for


one of the following reasons.
• The reception facility might not have the tank space
required for blending.

• The reception facility might not have the


equipment/expertise needed for LPG blending.

• Blending might be interfering with shore facility’


loading/discharging schedule.

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Reasons for Blending

• Importing Butane in countries where the ambient


temperature drops below – 5C.

• The avoidance or reduction of tax (either import or


manufacturing tax).

• Quicker turnaround of the cargo being imported, as the


LPG mix would be directly fed to bottling plants, without
delay.

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Propane to Butane or Butane to Propane?

Propane to Butane

When propane is introduced to a butane tank, there will be


rapid rise in tank pressure as the cooler propane tends to
produce a large quantity of flash gas. If the propane is not
introduced in a controlled manner, the vessel’s cargo
compressors may not be able to cope up with the rise in tank
pressures. Also the temperature gradient needs to be
monitored, as temperature will tend to fall with introduction
of propane. The risk of thermal stresses / shock should be
considered during the blending process.

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Propane to Butane or Butane to Propane?

Butane to Propane

When butane is introduced in a propane tank, the rise in


tank pressure may not be immediate, but will tend to rise
after a time lag. This can take place once the vessel proceeds
to sea. Hence introducing of butane into a propane tank has
higher associated risks, as the rise in tank pressure may not
be apparent. It will tend to rise suddenly and could lead to
uncontrolled venting if not monitored carefully. The heavier
butane will also tend to stay in the bottom so the need for
circulating the cargo arises.

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Ways of Blending

1. Blending during Loading

2. Blending while at safe anchorage or at layby


berth

3. Blending during Discharging

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Blending in Various Ship Types
• On board Fully Pressurized vessels:
Is not a concern. Vessels are designed to withstand the pressure of all cargoes they are
carrying even if the cargo reaches ambient temperature.
• On board Semi-refrigerated vessels:
Is not considered a major safety issue, although the relief valve settings can vary (MARVS
Setting: 5~8.0 Bar) and the pressure of the resultant mix could exceed the MARVS setting.
• On board a Fully refrigerated vessels:
Can cause major concerns as these ships cannot carry the cargo at ambient temperatures.
The cargo carried, is cooled below its boiling point. (MARVS Setting: 0.45 Bar)

PRODUCT Chemical Symbol Atmospheric Boiling Point Vapour Pressure at 37.8ºC


(Bars Absolute)

PROPANE C3H8 -42.3 12.9

n-BUTANE C4H10 -0.5 3.6

i-BUTANE C4H10 -11.7 4.9

SHIP TYPE FULLY REF SEMI PRESS FULLY PRESS


MARVS BarG 0.45-0.50 5-8 17

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Hazards associated with Blending

1. Generation of flash gas

2. Loss of power

3. Miscommunication with shore

4. Cargo roll-over due to density inversion.

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Hazards associated with Blending

5. Stability and stress issues

6. Accuracy and sloshing issues

7. Thermal stress

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HUMAN FACTOR

Biggest Hazard also the Biggest Safeguard


Crew experience is a hazard common to each way
of blending.
On the other hand Crew experience can prove to be
the most important safety buffer when conducting
blending.
It has become common in the industry for
instructions on LPG blending to be issued without
taking into account whether those on board have
any previous experience of such operations.

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General Guidance

1. Carry out risk assessment of the operation.


2. Plan the operation and brief all personnel involved.
3. Specify the tank pressure at which the operation must be
halted.
4. Consider the mechanical and technical limitations of vessel’s
equipment.
5. Evaluate and monitor stability and stress conditions affecting
the vessel during every stage of the blending operation.
6. Ensure sufficient ullage is available in the tanks.
7. Monitor the hourly trend of change in tank pressure and tank
temperature. In case of an upward trend, reduce rate of
blending in order to stabilize pressure.
8. No other operations to be carried out during LPG blending.

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Commercial Implications for Owners

• Cargo calculations and Deadfreight

• Bunkers used for Blending

• Time used for Blending

• Tanks’ condition upon completion of discharge

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Commercial Implications for Owners

• Cargo calculations and Deadfreight.


After the blending operation, the density of the mixture will
not be a mathematical average of the two cargoes because
the molecular composition of the mixture will be different.
This can lead in cargo shortage claims. A prudent Owner
should get indemnification from Charterers in this regard.

The quantity the vessel would have been able to load in case
mixing was not required must be taken into account by the
Chartering department when calculating the freight rate. A
relevant deadfreight letter of protest and a statement should
be prepared by master.

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Commercial Implications for Owners

• Bunkers/Time used for Blending


Time Charter
Clearly communicate to Time Charterers that all costs for the blending
operation will be for their account and get their written agreement to
avoid future disputes. Clearly communicate an estimate of the time and
bunkers required.

Spot Charters
If a spot chartered vessel is requested to perform blending operations, in
absence of a blending clause in the fixture, an addendum to the charter
should be agreed identifying clearly that the owner will be compensated
for time lost (at the demurrage rate) and for additional bunkers
consumed. Clearly communicate an estimate of the time and bunkers
required.

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Commercial Implications for Owners

• Tanks condition upon completion of discharge


Due consideration should be given to the condition
of the tanks upon completion of discharge as LPG
mix heel might not be suitable for the vessel’s next
employment. For example, if the next cargo is a full
propane cargo, certain terminals require the vessel
to arrive fully ref in order to be allowed to load. This
would mean that the owner will be facing a cost in
order to arrive at that condition and should
consider if this cost should be passed to Charterers.

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Port of Gotheburg, Sweden: Photo: Johan Gahnström

Thank you
Stefanos Karakelles
INTERTANKO Senior Manager,Gas (Secondee) London office: St Clare House, 30-33 Minories, London EC3N 1DD, UK
T: +44 (0)20 7977 7037 (Dir) T: +44 20 7977 7010 (S/B) M: + 44 (0)7885897522 M(2): +30 69 55 666 423
E: Stefanos.Karakelles@intertanko.com
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