Journey to Dahej on a pot-holed road with craters

Vol 12, PW 7 (21 Aug 08) Midstream & Downstream

Engineering contractor Punj Lloyd organised a visit to the Dahej LNG terminal on (Thursday) August 14 for a small group of journalists to witness construction of two new LNG tanks.

Below is a first-hand account of the visit by our correspondent: “In time spent, the six-hour journey from Ahmedabad to the LNG terminal at Dahej on a crater-filled road full of pot holes is almost as long as a non-stop flight from London to Delhi! As the car approaches Dahej, the industrial silhouette begins to clear: on the left is the huge Gujarat Alkalis and Chemicals plant, alongside the Reliance-owned IPCL plant; on the right is Gujarat Chemical Port Terminal and straight ahead, towering in the distance, are the giant LNG receiving tanks of Petronet LNG - two in operation, two under construction. Hitting one in the face is their sheer size: 63.5 metres high, with an outer diameter of 83.8 metres and an inner diameter of 79 metres, each ready to store 148,000 cubic metres LNG in a â€کworking height’ of 37 metres.

Welcoming journalists with flowers was Punj Lloyd project manager Rajat Sen. After we change into steel toe industrial shoes, safety goggles, ear plugs and white helmets, Sen navigates us to Tank 104, where work is on.

As we approach, Sen points to the â€کpiles’ underneath Tank 104: just two metres jutting out, the remaining 36 metres sunk in the ground. Designed for LNG at minus 160 degrees centigrade, the tank’s inner shell contains 9% nickel plate.

“Using anything other than nickel is impossible,â€‌ says Sen. “Any other metal would crack and break.

â€‌ Each tank will hold 164 Japanese-imported nickel plates, each measuring 12 metres by three metres. For the shell and deck insulation, resilient blankets and glass wool are used.

Foam glass and dry sand is used in the tank bottom insulation. After hopping over wooden pallets on slippery ground we climb stairs into Tank 104 – dark, with shafts of lights from the halogen bulbs.

Workers in orange overalls and white helmets join heavy cranes moving around. Loud screeching from the cutting of nickel plates forces a profusely sweating Sen to shout details.

Hydro-testing of Tank 104, he says, using 140,000 litres of water will begin next month. Once completed, the tanks will be purged with nitrogen and handed over, ready to receive LNG.

The good news is that by then, Petronet-LNG hopes to have begun laying a concrete road to the site.â€‌