Larger LNG carriers, larger risks? Sophisticated real-time simulation software and QRA


Jos T.M. van Doorn, MARIN, Wageningen, The Netherlands



In the last few years the size of the largest LNG carriers has increased dramatically, as illustrated in Figure 1.

With the increase in vessel size, the question is whether the risks associated with LNG carriers maneuvering in confined water also increase. To gain greater insight into those risks, recent studies executed for several new and existing LNG terminals throughout the world include a combination of quantitative risk assessment and real-time simulations. In general, these studies are executed for the largest LNG carriers sailing worldwide.

Quantitative risk assessment
A quantitative risk assessment (QRA) can be divided in two steps. In the first step the frequencies of accidents are determined. Accidents are divided in collisions, grounding, foundering, fire, and so on. In the second step the consequences of the accidents are determined. The most critical situations for the LNG carriers are grounding and the risk of collision with other vessels during maneuvers or while loading and unloading at the terminal.

Probabilities of such accidents involving an LNG carrier are calculated with the ‘Safety Model for Shipping and Offshore in the North Sea’ (the SAMSON model). Though the model was developed originally for the Dutch Ministry of Transport for the North Sea, the model is generic and can be used for any area.

This model has been developed over a period of 25 years. During this period, many studies have been executed for the Dutch Ministry of Transport, the European Commission and for various commercial projects.

Risk calculation with SAMSON consists of two steps. First the traffic flows in the area are defined. Nowadays we prefer to use Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, as stored by coastal or port authorities for this purpose. However, for a completely new port or terminal this data might not be available. In this case, it is possible to build up the traffic from available traffic data. Secondly, the probability on accidents is computed. In the SAMSON model, the traffic is composed from 36 ship types and eight ship size classes. For each ship class the probability on grounding and collision is computed.

To bridge the step from collision to ship damage, MARIN has developed the MARCOL tool, ‘the maritime collision model of MARIN’. With this model, the penetration probability of the LNG tanks is determined. MARCOL solves this problem analytically. The model is capable of determining the penetration probability of the cargo tanks of one single scenario within seconds. Therefore it is possible to model millions of collision scenarios. The model describes the primary damage mechanism for typical structural components like shell plating and transverse webs.

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