What do you get when you mix coconut oil and liquefied naturalgas? A minus-260-degrees-Fahrenheit Pina Colada.

Southern LNG might have made 18,000 metric tons of the stufflast Wednesday night had its Elba Island terminal been operatingwhen a 580-foot coconut oil tanker crashed into its dockingfacilities. Oh, what a party it could have been.

Fortunately for Southern and the local community in Savannah,GA, the side of the ship that hit the dock was empty and it will beanother year before ships carrying huge loads of LNG will befilling the facility’s tanks again.

However, the accident did cause significant damage to theterminal and could delay recommissioning of import operations. Asof last week, no delay was expected, a spokesman said, but thedamage still is being evaluated.

Southern informed FERC of the accident by telephone the night ithappened and filed an initial report that week. It filedsupplemental information last Wednesday detailing the incident.

“Further investigation suggests that the vessel grounded in thebow area after initially [colliding] with Southern LNG’s marinefacilities. The starboard bow anchor subsequently hooked the dock’ssuperstructure. These impacts caused extensive damage to the marinefacilities,” Southern told FERC. “After striking the fore dolphins,the bow of the vessel cut several outboard concrete columnssupporting the second and third level concrete slabs of theunloading platform. The bow then pushed the second level slab,which collapsed to the main level, leaving the upper levels restingwith an outboard lean over the river.”

Southern said it has to demolish and salvage the platform deckbefore sending divers down to examine the substructure of theterminal. It has plans to remove the damaged elements and beginconducting repair work, but it probably will take more than a monthto finish the clean up job and much longer to get therecommissioning back on track.

Mothballed since 1980, the facility received FERC authorizationin March to begin a $26 million recommissioning. The facility isexpected to begin importing 330 MMcf/d of LNG from Trinidadstarting in January 2002. It will have 4 Bcf of storage capacityand a delivery rate of 540 MMcf/d.

Rocco Canonica

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