Very Large Ethane Carrier Loads First Cargo

Reliance Industries' 87,000 cbm Ethane Crystal. Photo: ABS
Reliance Industries’ 87,000 cbm Ethane Crystal. Photo: ABS

The world’s first Very Large Ethane Carrier (VLEC) has loaded its first cargo of US-produced ethane at Enterprise Products Partner’s Morgan’s Point Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel.

The Ethane Crystal is the first of six VLECs to be delivered with ABS Class through 2017. With an 87,000 cbm cargo carrying capacity, the vessel was the first of its kind to be constructed with a specially designed GTT Mark III membrane cargo containment system.

The six VLECs were ordered in July 2014 by India’s Reliance Industries in response to an increase in U.S. gas production. All six ships in the series are being built at SHI’s main shipyard in Geoje, Korea and are classed by ABS. The Ethane Crystal, delivered in November, will operate on a trade route between North America and India carrying ethane that will be used as feedstock for petrochemical production. The second vessel, Ethane Emerald, was delivered earlier this month.

At 87,000 cbm, the vessels mark a significant step up from the next largest ethane carriers, the 37,000 cbm Navigator Aurora and Navigator Eclipse.

“Loading ethane onto the world’s first VLEC represents a significant milestone for the global gas industry,” says ABS Chairman, President and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki. “ABS is proud to have worked alongside all of the stakeholders throughout the design, construction, delivery, and now, during operation of this vessel.”

In addition to ethane, the Ethane Crystal is also able to carry cargoes such as liquefied petroleum gases (LPG).

Recognizing the changing landscape in U.S. gas production, the American Bureau of Shipping launched its global gas division in 2013 to support the industry in developing gas-related projects.

“Using vessels like this VLEC can help make expansion into new and emerging markets scalable and economical for the entire supply chain,” says ABS Executive Vice President for Global Marine Kirsi Tikka. “As a trusted advisor, ABS provides support to owners and operators throughout the life of their vessels to advance safer and more sustainable shipping.”