Ship vetting inspection: The major changes for LNG ships

Posted by Witherbys on 25th May 2023

Ship vetting inspection: The major changes for LNG ships

Inspections and vetting carried out by charterers, buyers, terminal operators and sellers have been an integral part of ship operations in both oil tankers and LPG carrier operations for more than 25 years, and have improved operating standards. The introduction of the SIRE 2.0 programme and recent changes in trading patterns mean stakeholders must be sure that the condition, operation and ownership of the vessels are of an acceptable standard by applying new and up to date ship inspection and vetting systems to LNG shipping.

These fundamental changes are highlighted in the fully revised third edition of Ship Vetting and its Application to LNG:

1. Introduction of SIRE 2.0

Following the introduction of the SIRE 2.0 programme, LNG tankers must ensure they are up to date with the improvements to safety management in vetting through the new risk assessment tool. There are several best practices and processes for taking advantage of new opportunities for assessment derived from the introduction of SIRE 2.0 inspection regime.

Implemented in 1993, OCIMF’s Ship Inspection Report Programme (SIRE) is a standardized ship inspection tool which aims to continuously improve safety management in the tanker industry. SIRE 2.0 inspections will be fully digitised, bringing key changes to the ship vetting process. The SIRE 2.0 inspection regime enables comprehensive marine assurance data to be gathered during vessel inspections, leading to in-depth reporting outcomes and a ‘made-to-measure’ assessment for each vessel and its crew. Another significant change to the process is the introduction of the human response tool assessed using Performance Influencing Factors (PIFs). The tool measures physical, psychological and social factors which influence human interaction with a company procedure, written process or the use or operation of machinery or equipment. This publication describes and suggests risk assessment practices to take advantage of the new opportunities derived from the introduction of the SIRE 2.0 inspection regime.

2. Responses to geopolitical changes

Global geopolitical events continue to impact aspects of the maritime industry, so understanding this landscape and the potential risks is crucial for ship operators. In particular there are many geopolitical risks for the LNG industry, from trade protection and responses to climate change to cyber security. Because oil and gas markets are intertwined globally, LNG operators must be aware of what is happening in countries all over the world to mitigate serious effects to supply and demand.

The volume of LNG transported by sea and discharged in ports in Europe has sharply increased as a consequence of major geopolitical events such as the war in Ukraine and the stark reduction in the flow of Russian natural gas to the continent through pipelines. The number of Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRU) projects in Europe and of ship to ship cargo transfers worldwide has increased substantially, as has the fleet of LNG carriers both existing and on order. The invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent gas crisis in Europe highlighted the importance of FSRUs, and within a short time all available units were fixed at very high daily rates. This new dynamic means that going forward the LNG industry needs to think very carefully about buying strategies to avoid getting caught out by high prices.

The increasing number and complexity of LNG cargo operations means that the need for vetting ships carrying LNG is now higher than ever.

Drawing from the author’s experiences working as a SIRE 2.0 trial inspector, a Senior Officer on LNG carriers, an LNG Marine Superintendent and as a Vetter, and with the contribution of reputable industry professionals, this publication covers every key aspect relating to the vetting of LNG carriers.