Record-breaking ship to play key role in SABIC Cracker

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The biggest ship of its type in Europe that will carry shipments of ethane gas from Houston in the US to SABIC’s iconic Olefins Cracker at Wilton has been named in a special ceremony on the River Tees.

The eco-friendly liquefied ethylene gas (LEG) carrier is operated by German shipping company Hartmann Reederei and GasChem Services.

The naming ceremony was held to bring good luck to the new ship and those who sail on it.

In what represented the biggest single investment in the Teesside chemical industry for a generation, SABIC’s Olefins 6 plant – commonly known as ‘The Cracker’ – recently underwent a conversion that safeguarded thousands of local jobs and secured the global chemical giant’s future on Teesside.

The 37-year-old plant has undergone complex modifications to allow it to process ethane gas imported from the USA alongside other feedstocks to make it one of the most flexible and competitive crackers in Europe.

The conversion project also involved the building of a new cryogenic ethane tank and purpose-built ships to transfer the ethane from the US Gulf Coast to Teesside.

The first born of these ships, the GasChem Beluga, made her maiden voyage from Shanghai through the Panama Canal to Houston in December to mark the official start of the contract-hiring period.

Built in China, the state-of-the-art ship was designed and developed specifically for SABIC by Hartmann Reederei, in cooperation with engineering consultants HB Hunte Engineering to take advantage of the emerging global ethane trade.

The ship’s innovative design focused on building an ‘Eco Star’ gas ship, with hydrodynamic design, high fuel efficiency, low emissions and the flexibility to use a spectrum of fuels in the engines including clean fuels such as ethane and LNG.

The design of the cargo tank presents another world innovation to allow an increase in cargo capacity by nearly 30% leading to reduced shipping costs.

The GasChem Beluga – which will be joined by a sister vessel the GasChem Orca in July – marks a new generation of semi-refrigerated ethylene/ethane carriers, designed for environmentally friendly operations with minimum emissions at a maximum of reliability and sea endurance.

The new ships, with a cargo capacity of 36,000m³, will greatly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and soot particles too by running engines on clean gas.

Mrs Odette Claus, the wife of Frank Claus, Global Director Supply Chain Liquids, officially named the vessel, at a ceremony in Teesport, which was attended by representatives and customers of SABIC and the Hartmann Group together with member of the Tees Shipping community.

Captain Alfred Hartmann, founder of the Hartmann Group said: “We are delighted that SABIC has chosen Hartmann Reederdei as a partner in the development of this new type of vessel.

“We are proud of the design, which is unique and highly efficient and to testify our commitment to a sustainable LEG-carrier which is also one of the largest in the world.”

“Whales like Beluga and Orca symbolize a clean environment and therefore the name reflects the ‘green’ concept and technology of the vessels.”

Frank Claus concluded: “As a responsible global company, SABIC is committed to providing high-quality, competitively priced products to its customers whilst doing all it reasonably can in order to reduce the environmental impact of its operations,”

“We would like to express our appreciation to all involved, especially the Hartmann and GasChem team for joining SABIC on the journey to deliver on a truly global supply chain.

“Not only have we managed to lever ethane as an advantaged cracker feedstock, we are proud to be one of the first chemical companies in the world to use it as a clean fuel for our highly efficient ships as well.

“Our UK site in Teesside is of strategic importance to SABIC and also from a global supply chain perspective.

“The flexible Cracker project will secure the future of the Teesside site to provide continued employment for the broader community for the next few decades ahead.

“These innovative ships illustrate the sustainable future that SABIC wants to help to create.”


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