Dabhol commissioning hit by LNG jetty accident

Vol 15, PW 20 (19 Apr 12) People & Policy

Bad luck is never far from the 5m t/y Dabhol LNG terminal operated by GAIL and NTPC joint venture Ratnagiri Gas.

PETROWATCH learns a serious accident has dampened the celebratory spirit at Dabhol, where 138,000-cubic metre capacity LNG tanker Excelerate landed on April 4 with a ‘commissioning cargo.’ Barely 3000-cubic metres of the 135,000-cubic metre cargo were discharged from the tanker before a rubber ‘fender’ at the jetty dramatically gave way and fell into the sea.

“We immediately stopped unloading LNG,” says a GAIL source. Excelerate was taken away from the jetty and ‘cast off at anchorage’ or moored at a distance to prevent further damage.

Finding a replacement fender was no easy task but Reliance came to the rescue, supplying one last week. “It was difficult to source a replacement fender with the right dimensions,” we learn.

Fenders support the weight of a LNG tanker and prevent it from smashing into the jetty so, understandably, the Houston-based cargo supplier Excelerate Energy, which also owns the tanker, has raised “strong objections” to the incident. “Excelerate is demanding a full jetty safety inspection and certification before it berths the vessel again,” we hear.

“It insists the rest of the cargo can only be discharged after the certification.” GAIL is optimistic the cargo can be fully discharged within the next 10 days or by end-April even though the accident has seriously thrown its commissioning schedule into disarray.

Usually, a commissioning cargo should take 14 days to unload at a new terminal but Dabhol is over a decade old and its pumps and other equipment have been unused since its disgraced original promoter Enron left. GAIL sourced Dabhol’s commissioning cargo from LNG trader Excelerate at around $15.5/mmbtu.

But ‘demurrage charges’ following the accident will push this cost up.