Hydrates, if not handled properly could be the cause of fire and explosion onboard a LPG tanker. Hydrates are compounds, in the form of crystalline substances, developed from the interaction of water and hydrocarbons at certain pressures and temperatures. They are commonly present in LPG cargoes and must be safely managed throughout the cargo system. Hydrates, if not removed, can result in frozen regulating valves, clogged filters, damaged equipment, and other problems in the related cargo systems.
Senior shore side operating company personnel provide extensive technical support when a vessel is required to load cargo at higher temperatures and when substantial hydrates quantities are known to be contained within;
Shipboard Safety Management Systems and Operational Manuals be inclusive of all procedures to be expected and performed onboard. In the incident under investigation a procedure for removal of hydrates was unavailable;
Such procedures, when they are developed, implemented, and performed should align with industry best practices and all changes to the documented procedures should be vetted through the associated parties for approval ensuring notification takes place as required;
Routine and frequent training of shipboard officers and crew based on documented procedures for vessels transporting dangerous cargos should take place on a regular basis and cover such topics as;
The safety risk of releasing LPG in open and enclosed spaces;
- Proper methods to acknowledge and investigate gas detection alarms regardless of location; (Including making proper notifications to responsible parties)
- Ensuring that all ventilation systems are functioning as designed with no conditions hindering its effectiveness such as open doors or obstructions;
- Methods to inspect and identify leaks throughout the cargo system, and corrective actions to take when leaks are identified;
- Ways to manage and minimize the negative effects of hydrates throughout the entire cargo system;
- Methods to reduce static electricity as found in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 77.