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Safety implications of a large LNG tanker spill over water


  • This article was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government.


The increasing demand for natural gas in the United States could significantly increase the number and frequency of marine LNG (liquefied natural gas) imports. Although many studies have been conducted to assess the consequences and risks of potential LNG spills, the increasing importance of LNG imports suggests that consistent methods and approaches be identified and implemented to help ensure protection of public safety and property from a potential LNG spill.

For that reason, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Fossil Energy, requested that Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) develop guidance on a risk-based analysis approach to assess and quantify potential threats to an LNG ship, the potential hazards and consequences of a large spill from an LNG ship, and review prevention and mitigation strategies that could be implemented to reduce both the potential and the risks of an LNG spill over water.

Specifically, DOE requested:

  • An in-depth literature search of the experimental and technical studies associated with evaluating the safety and hazards of an LNG spill from an LNG ship

  • A detailed review of four recent spill modeling studies related to the safety implications of a large-scale LNG spill over water

  • Evaluation of the potential for breaching an LNG ship cargo tank, both accidentally and intentionally, identification of the potential for such breaches and the potential size of an LNG spill for each breach scenario, and an assessment of the potential range of hazards involved in an LNG spill

  • Development of guidance on the use of modern, performance-based, risk management approaches to analyze and manage the threats, hazards, and consequences of an LNG spill over water to reduce the overall risks of an LNG spill to levels that are protective of public safety and property.

This paper provides an overview of the conclusions and recommendations from that study. © 2005 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2005