Oceanic Technical Solutions has secured a long-term service contract with Mitsui O.S.K Lines MOL LNG Transport (Europe) Ltd for the annual inspection, leak testing, condition monitoring and analysis of the refrigeration plants aboard all 15 LNG carriers in the Japanese shipowner’s European managed fleet.
Oceanic Technical Solutions’ Managing Director, Robert Chesters, said: “The service agreement we have signed with MOL is to ensure that the refrigeration plant installed on these vessels is completely leak-tight, resulting in significant cost savings for the owner. With new refrigerant blends costing upwards of US$2000 per cylinder, we can pinpoint system failures and prevent costly refrigerant escaping to atmosphere. At the same time ensuring that vessels are running to the optimum efficiency and reducing their environmental footprint.
“Fleet managers are under increasing commercial and environmental pressure to curtail the amount of refrigerant consumed and our experience tells us that containment is the only solution. A shipboard plant is no different to a domestic refrigerator. It is a contained system that if properly maintained should not require constant topping up. Refrigerant is not a consumable it is an asset that should be retained.”
Service engineers have completed their assessment of the first vessel under the MOL LNG agreement, the 87,000dwt Gigira Laitebo. Without disruption to vessel operations in Papua New Guinea, service engineers inspected main air conditioning plants, provisions plants, inert gas cooling systems and self-contained AC units, with in-situ repairs undertaken and recommendations given to prevent vessel downtime.
MOL LNG Transport (Europe) Purchasing Manager Lee Tierney said: “The agreement we have in place with Oceanic Technical Solutions supports our energy and environmental efficiency strategy to reduce the quantity of refrigerants our vessels use.”
Fleet Manager Mark Macey added: “By containing the refrigeration plant and preventing costly refrigerant gases from venting we not only reduce further the environmental impact of our operations but we reduce significantly ship operation costs.”
Oceanic Technical Solutions’ Technical Director, Dave Lloyd, said: “The inspection and leak testing of shipboard refrigeration equipment will soon become a mandatory issue. Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 entered into force in 2015 to strengthen existing measures on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
“From January 2020, there will be a service ban on systems using refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) above 2500, typically this will be any system with above 10Kgs charge of R404A & R507. While it won’t be illegal to have systems that run on these gases, servicing them and topping them up with these virgin refrigerants will be. Recycled or reclaimed refrigerant can be used for plant maintenance until 1st January 2030.”
“Shipowners need to adopt a similar mindset to the one they embraced with the phase out of CFCs and R22,” said Chesters. “The new F-Gas rule is just four years away and given that a large proportion of the world fleet uses R404A and R507 many systems will need to be inspected and possibly retrofitted.” As with previous refrigerant phase outs we expect the cost of these refrigerants to escalate rapidly as the cap on global production kicks in.
In addition to the MOL LNG vessels, Oceanic Technical Solutions has carried out full condition assessments of the refrigeration plant aboard NYK LNG carriers and various reefer ships.