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Alpha Process Controls tailors LNG products to target FSRUs

Mon 17 Apr 2017 by Karen Thomas

Alpha Process Controls tailors LNG products to target FSRUs
John Lamb: selling large-scale LNG couplings to FSRUs

Floating imports open new opportunities across the LNG supply chain. UK-based manufacturer Alpha Process Controls is tailoring its LNG product range to meet growing import demand. Karen Thomas reports

Peterlee, UK-headquartered Alpha Process Controls (APC) sees an opportunity in floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) for its hose-transfer systems and emergency breakaway couplings, having developed products for a range of vessel sizes.

APC has 40 years’ experience producing fluid-transfer systems. It also has experience in marine in LPG shipping. It developed breakaway coupling systems for ship-to-shore transfers in international regions, notably in Gujarat, India.  

Now, the company sees LNG – and particularly offshore imports – as a niche to tap. It moved into LNG three years ago, developing breakaway coupling units for emergency ship-to-ship and small-scale transfers. It also makes valves for industrial gases, supplying cryogenic units to Air Liquide, and small-scale LNG loading arms.

APC’s package for ship-to-ship transfers features emergency-release collar (ERC) couplings, manifold reducers, hose saddles and a flexible LNG-transfer hose, supplied by Gutterling, and an arrestor system.

Market leaders MIB of Italy and UK-based KLAW sell hydraulically actuated systems. APC's mechanically actuated systems are designed to operate during total power shutdowns.

Late last year, APC won its first major marine LNG deal with GNL Quintero in central Chile to supply a complete ERC and breakaway coupling system. The 8in ERC features a two-stage cable system that shuts down the internal valves before the couplings separate.

“This is our first deal for our large-scale LNG couplings, says APC managing director John Lamb. “We have carried out a lot of research into future demand for these systems, particularly in regions that are known for earthquakes, such as Japan. We are targeting the country’s receiving terminals, talking to utility companies including Osaka Gas.

“However, we see potential for global demand – and in particular from FSRUs. In the first few weeks of this year, we’ve offered quotes worth a total £9.5 million (US$12 million) to prospective FSRU projects – conversions and newbuildings.”

Discussions with half a dozen shipowners include FSRU heavy hitters Höegh LNG and BW LNG and Greek and other European shipowners new to the FSRU market.

“Our product will operate day in, day out, passing liquid through normal operations,” Mr Lamb says. “But it will make a name for itself the day it’s fired off in anger.”

Mr Lamb will spend a lot of time in Asia, presenting the product to prospective regional buyers this year. APC is visiting South Korea’s Big Three shipyards, seeking to establish its systems on the vendor list. It will also have a large presence at Gastech.

APC has appointed an agent in Japan, a subsidiary of the giant Sojitz conglomerate that has recently announced its own FSRU-based venture in Java in Indonesia, in partnership with Marubeni and Pertamina. The APC LNG-product range has type approval from Japan’s ClassNK.

Owned until last summer by northeast UK businessman Geoff Turnbull, APC is now part of Germany’s €6 billion (US$6.5 billion), Munich-based Knorr-Bremse group. The new management is firmly behind APC’s ambition to expand its product range and to target marine LNG.

Having developed cryogenic couplings, APC sees an opportunity to modify the product to meet the needs of regasification units, operating at higher pressures of 45-100 bar (4,500-10,000 kPA).

“We believe there is a market for this and that we can supply it,” Mr Lamb says. “And because of the products we have, this will not be an entirely new product range. It will be a question of developing a new collar system for what we have.

“To date, our focus has been on the liquids side of the LNG business. Ultimately, we’d like to offer the whole package.”


Alpha Process Controls at a glance




Knorr-Bremse (2016)

Based Peterlee, County Durham
UK bases 4
Floor space 19,000m²
LNG products LNG hose-transfer systems
  LNG-transfer systems
  Emergency-release couplings
  LNG-transfer saddles
  Drybreak couplings
  Breakaway couplings
  ERC couplings
  Loading arms
  LNG simulation testing


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