There is currently considerable optimism about the future growth of the natural gas market and while not all the proposed LNG schemes may materialise, many still expect a significant increase in the number of vessels in the world LNG fleet. Recently, there has been both an increase in orders and an increased programme of scrapping of older vessels. The market is also moving away from the traditional long-term 20-year time charter and greater use is being made of spot market vessel charters.
While some companies are looking at the possible economies of scale of larger vessels (in the range of 175,000- 250,000 cu.m.) others are looking to develop options for developing small vessels to exploit shortsea and coastal trades in LNG. New alternatives including compressed/pressurised natural gas (CNG/PNG), where the gas is stored under pressure at ambient or semi-refrigeration temperatures, are also being developed. There is also a growing interest in LNG Floating production, storage and offloading systems for offshore oil & gas developments and re-gasification tankers and plants designed to avoid the need to construct huge land-based processing and distribution centres.
Steam turbines have traditionally been the preferred power plant for LNG carriers; however, other options such as medium speed diesel electric or slow-speed diesel engines, with reliquefaction plants to reclaim boil-off gas, are being developed.
RINA invites papers on all aspects of the design and operation of gas carriers.