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The British Royal Navy has been preparing to counteract a potential terrorist attack on LNG carriers for the last two years, a source from the Navy has told the Daily Mail. The source explained that two years ago, the navy prevented a terrorist group’s plans to attack LNG tankers coming into British terminals by planting limpet bombs on their hulls.
Since then, an elite diver squad has been inspecting LNG tanker hulls consistently.
LNG tankers are much safer than oil tankers. The liquefied methane is contained in non-pressurized tanks, and the danger of it igniting is small as it needs to vaporize and mix with the air in a specific proportion. This is not to say that there is no danger at all, however.
A bomb planted on the hull of a tanker could cause a fire, and LNG does burn. A surface fire as a result of LNG spillage could cause serious destruction even if there is no actual explosion. The loss of an LNG tanker in itself can become a serious economic problem, potentially creating energy shortage, the source also said.
LNG imports account for 17 percent of Britain’s total gas consumption. The bulk, or 45 percent, comes from local production in the North Sea and East Irish Sea, and the remainder flows via pipelines from continental Europe.
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Britain has been eager to start importing U.S. LNG, but this has yet to come. Cheniere Energy’s first Europe-bound cargo left the Sabine Pass terminal this Sunday and is expected to reach its destination, the Gate terminal in Rotterdam, on June 7. The cargo was commissioned by Norway’s Statoil.
Traders who spoke to Platts said that the LNG from the U.S. was probably a replacement cargo for Statoil, because the Norwegian major’s LNG facility at Snohvit is shut for maintenance between May 12 and June 18, while Statoil has a delivery obligation to supply LNG to Gate.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.