In September SIGTTO will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The society has come a long way since its formation in 1979, but many of the topics it initially considered remain pertinent issues today
Back in the late 1970s there was interest in establishing an international association where LNG carrier operators could share their experiences and assist each other with issues of safety, reliability and maintaining high operational standards. A series of meetings was convened through December 1978 to March 1979 to explore forming such an association.
The first meeting took place at the Princess Hotel in Hamilton, Bermuda on the 11 and 12 December 1978. The meeting was called at the request of El Paso LNG company upon suggestions made by Compagnie Nationale Algerienne de Navigation (CNAN) and others that such an organisation could prove valuable. The intention was to call the new society ‘SIMTO’, the Society for International Methane Tanker Operators.
While initial interest was centred around LNG carrier operations, it was quickly recognised that the association would be the more valuable if it encompassed all forms of liquefied gas carrier operation (LPG and chemical gases as well as LNG) and if it also included operating terminals.
“It was quickly recognised that any such association would be the more valuable if it encompassed all forms of liquefied gas carrier and terminal operations”
It was realised that there were common issues of safety and reliability throughout the liquefied gas marine transportation sector and there would be great value in providing a channel of direct liaison between ship and terminal operators to develop and maintain appropriate safety standards.
In these formative discussions, the participants were supported by senior executives of ICS and OCIMF, both of which already included the liquefied gas industry within their activities and had consultative status with IMCO (now IMO).
As a result of these formative meetings, the Society of International Gas Tankers and Terminal Operators Ltd came into existence as a Bermuda-exempted company with limited liability and with membership and shareholding in the company available to those owning or operating a liquefied gas carrier or a liquefied gas marine terminal. The first board meeting was held in Bermuda on the 5 October 1979. The founding members were:
- EL Paso LNG Company
- Energy Transportation Corporation
- Malaysian International Shipping Corp
- BP Tanker Company Ltd
- Moore, McCormack Bulk Transport Ltd
- P&O Bulk Shipping Ltd
- Gotaas-Larsen Inc
- Marine Transport Lines
- Shell Tankers Ltd
A further board meeting with more members present was held in Houston on the 12 November 1979. At this board meeting, Maurice Holdsworth was appointed as the first general manager and Barry Hunsaker of El Paso Natural Gas was appointed founding president.
Among the first technical issues the society dealt with were:
- Contingency planning
- Ship/shore linked emergency shut down
- Safe havens
- Cargo Strainers
It is interesting to note that SIGTTO’s General Purposes Committee is still discussing most of these issues to some degree today.
When the society was formed there were 52 LNG vessels in service. Now, there are 10 times that amount in operation and another 100 vessels on order.
This year, the society, which was formally established in October 1979, will commemorate its 40th anniversary with a special publication. The 100-page issue will focus on the development of SIGTTO and the gas shipping and terminal industry over the past four decades.
Andrew Clifton is general manager of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO)