The industrial gases business is built upon the Zero Ambition, its absolute commitment to safety. It is a central pillar of the industry; the first and foremost paradigm.
As a result, the industry proudly reflects on a robust record across the globe. More established markets fare better than their emerging counterparts, generally speaking, but the standard across the world as a whole is comparatively high – and always striving for more.
National and regional bodies such as the CGA, EIGA, BCGA, IGV, AIGA, CIGIA, JIMGA, AIIGMA and ANZIGA exist in the very name of this crusade, in the spirit of safety, good practice, and harmonisation.
With collaboration, communication and overarching principles, there are strong overlaps between the work of all these organisations and their members – and few areas of industrial gas safety are able to slip through the cracks.
But can we say the same of a fast-growing market like distributive LNG? Is it possible that something of a black hole exists in this aspect of the LNG supply chain?
On the face of it, it’s entirely possible. A basic Google search provided me with little in the way of clear evidence or guidance. Instead, I was faced with a complex web of different safety links pertaining to various aspects of the supply chain, none of which seemed to be a distinct distributive LNG reference point of any conviction.
I could be wrong, but it appeared as though the only concrete guidance in place was that provided by the European Commission, where the transport of hazardous goods/liquids was concerned. Perhaps there is more to this than meets the untrained eye; perhaps these regulations are simply enough. But as I understand it, there were intentions some years ago to form a cohesive committee to address safety the distributive LNG space, certainly at a European level, only for those good intentions to fall by the wayside owing to a lack of momentum.
So is there a call to action here? It’s a potentially big question, and one that gasworld aims to throw the spotlight on at its European conference devoted to the Clean Energies transition in Amsterdam this April (23-25).
The very notion of an effective transition to cleaner, greener and more sustainable energies will be built upon a foundation of safety, just like the gases industry as we know it today. Especially where the public is concerned, if any aspect of that pillar is left in question, then the transition will not truly be successful – nor as expedient.
Admittedly, the hydrogen economy – with consumer vehicles to be fuelled as their petrol and diesel predecessors are now – is more open to public anxiety surrounding safety than the LNG supply chain. Safety at the filling pump is much closer to home for us all than the safety of those big LNG-filled tankers that pass us by without notice. But why take any chances? Why leave any room for error, in the public eye or otherwise?
“…the LNG business has great synergy with the cryogenic equipment element of the gases industry – what if it had a robust pillar of safety to match too?”
There is great work underway in the developing hydrogen economy, one of LNG’s counterparts in the Clean Energies transition, to establish a clear and effective code of safety for hydrogen refuelling (for example), as we will also learn more about in Amsterdam next month. Stakeholders in this area are actively working together to better understand the tools they are working with and deliver a simple yet comprehensive way forward in safety and compliance.
The question is whether the same can be said of the distributive LNG business.
I understand there are steps being taken to build a Belgian and Dutch association for this under-served area, and that it may need more momentum to drive it forward. Perhaps that’s says it all; if work is underway, then don’t we need a visible call to action to accelerate that initiative?
I hope we can help with this at our conference in April. After all, the LNG business has great synergy with the cryogenic equipment element of the gases industry – what great progress might we achieve if it had a robust pillar of safety to match too?