17 February 2009

Very Large Floating Oil Storage in Singapore

Sites are being identified for locating very large floating structures (VLFS) to store oil and petrochemical products. The need to build these is becoming more pressing due to growing space constraits on Jurong Island, which has led international traders to set up facilities in neighbouring Johor instead.

While the Jurong Rock Cavern is more for strategic oil storage, the floating oil storage will benefit international oil traders that want their own terminal facilities.

Freeing up the storage space could allow Jurong Island's fast-depleting land to be used more for petrochemical complexes, chemical plants and oil refineries.
Cyrene Reef: Right next to Jurong and Bukom
View of Jurong Island from the vast seagrass meadows of Cyrene Reef.

The tender for a consultant to explore and identify sites for VLFS in Singapore waters closes this Friday, Feb 20. JTC wants the study completed in six weeks.

In the site study, the consultant will conduct initial screening of available water space followed by detailed screening, ranking the sites based on usage constraints. The study will cover anchorage and navigation areas, pipeline and cable routes, wave height, wind speed, coral reefs, mangrove stands, recreational areas and aquaculture facilities.

The site study is part of a study that kicked off in November last year to assess the environmental impact of VLSFs. This followed the completion of a study in late-2007 that showed such structures are technically feasible and comparable in cost to land-based oil storage.

For VLFS to be viable, the minimum storage capacity should be 300,000 cu m - equivalent to that of a big tanker. A VLFS would comprise two rectangular modules, each measuring 180 m by 80 m by 15 m and with 150,000 cu m of storage capacity. Preliminary cost estimates are at least $180 million, comparable to the cost of onshore storage.

In terms of land use, the 300,000 cu m VLFS would need only 5 hectares of foreshore area, compared with a land storage facility of similar capacity which would require at least 20 ha of land. This means a significant saving in land use.

'More importantly, it is also a marine-friendly eco system as the VLFS, being afloat in the sea, will allow seawater to flow underneath the floating modules and will not cause any irreversible damage to the marine ecosystem.'

The concrete VLFS is durable, fire-resistant and easy to maintain. It can be designed to store any kind of oil or petrochemical product. It is also versatile as the floating modules can either be attached to land or be stand-alones.

Feasibility studies were also reported on a floating desalination plant, a super-large floating container terminal, a floating oil storage/bunkering facility and an offshore floating mooring facility. Those involved in the studies include Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Shipbuilding Research Centre of Japan and Kyoto University.

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