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As operators of the largest liquefied natural gas project in the world, Qatargas needed a chartered fleet of vessels to transport LNG to our diverse customer base across the globe. Consequently, the company initiated a pioneering ship-building programme which was considered the largest fully integrated merchant ship building programme undertaken in over 60 years.
Constructed at three shipbuilding yards in South Korea: Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) at Ulsan, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) on Geoje Island and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) on Geoje Island; a total of 45 vessel (31 Q-Flex and 14 Q-Max) were built under this programme and are currently chartered by Qatargas to transport LNG to global markets.
The design and construction of Q-Flex and Q-Max were technological landmark events for the LNG shipping industry. The development of these vessels resulted in significantly larger LNG vessels and introduced new and innovative industry sector concepts such as:
“Membrane" type cargo containment system.
Slow speed diesel engines which are more thermally efficient than steam turbines and burn less fuel, thereby producing 30% lower overall emissions compared to traditional existing LNG carriers.
Twin engines and shafts to ensure maximum propulsion safety and reliability, with reduced environmental footprint and twin rudders to ensure safety of navigation and maneuverability in confined waters.
Fire-fighting specifications that utilise combinations of Hi-Expansion foam, Hi-fog water systems and safer and environmentally cleaner fire extinguishing agents that eliminate the need for CO2 – a first for LNG vessels.
Cargo re-liquefaction plants that return cargo boil off gas to the cargo tanks as a liquid and therefore ensure quality and maximise the cargo delivery to the customer.
The power generation plant has also been enhanced to provide sufficient reserve and thus ensure integrity of supply under all operating circumstances.
Underwater coatings using the latest technology silicone based anti-fouling systems, which not only enhance the speed and performance of the vessel, but are also “friendly" to the marine environment as they do not release biocides into the sea to prevent marine growth on the hull.
Through economies of scale, Q-Max and Q-Flex vessels provide lower transportation costs. Traditionally LNG ship sizes grew incrementally in small steps. However, ground breaking studies on in-tank sloshing loads enabled individual tank capacity to increase by up to 50%. This technology development facilitated the increase of the maximum vessel cargo capacity from the typical conventional size of 150,000 cubic metres to 266, 000 cubic metres on the Q-Max.
One full cargo of a Q-Max can provide enough energy to heat 26 million UK homes (approximately 41% of total population) for one entire day. The South Hook LNG Terminal project in Milford Haven in Wales has a throughput capacity of 15.6 mtpa and was constructed to accommodate the delivery of LNG from Qatargas 2. This is a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Total. The largest in Europe, the terminal is now a major import and regasification hub supplying gas to the UK market.
Qatargas has a fleet of 25 purpose-built conventional vessels, each with a capacity of between 135,000 and 152,000 cubic meters currently on long-term charter for the transportation of LNG from Qatar to customers in the Far-East, Indian sub-continent, Europe, and Mediterranean.
Qatargas has a fleet of 31 Q-Flex and 14 Q-Max on long-term charter. Being the world's largest cargo carrying capacity LNG vessels, the Q-Flex and Q-Max are each capable of transporting 210,000 cubic metres and 266,000 cubic metres of LNG respectively. These vessels supply Far Eastern, European and various other markets.