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Gate terminal: supply and throughput of LNG for Northwest Europe

Gate terminal on Maasvlakte in Rotterdam is the first and only LNG import terminal in the Netherlands. The terminal, a joint venture between Nederlandse Gasunie and Royal Vopak, takes care of the supply and throughput of LNG (liquefied natural gas) for Northwest Europe.

LNG arrives by carrier from areas including the Middle East, Norway and Africa. Storage tanks enable large quantities of LNG to be unloaded in one go. The terminal operates as a hub in which the product is reloaded in smaller carriers for export, or is converted into natural gas and transported via pipelines to the European distribution network. Gate terminal has facilities for loading LNG in vessels, containers and trucks. LNG can then be transported to supply natural gas in areas without a pipeline infrastructure or can contribute to supplies at petrol stations.

Gate terminal and the Port of Rotterdam are playing a leading role in the introduction of LNG as less polluting fuel for shipping and road transport. LNG has proven to be an important alternative fuel for long-distance vessel or truck transport, as a replacement for the current oil products. LNG is currently the best alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil in the transport sector, making it a promising choice for the transition to cleaner transport. Trucks and vessels running on LNG are quieter and have almost no particulate and sulphur oxide emissions.

Functions
Gate terminal offers services to carriers that unload LNG at the terminal. Gate terminal then ensures that LNG is loaded into other vessels, containers or trucks. A third function is the gasification and pressurisation of some of the LNG for supply to the Dutch gas transport network. This means that, as import terminal, Gate terminal fulfils the main functions of a liquefied natural gas storage and transhipment company.

The terminal has three storage tanks, three jetties, three loading sites for road tankers and containers and an area in which LNG is converted into natural gas. The tanks each have a storage capacity of 180,000 m3. The throughput capacity is 12 bcm per year. The terminal has been operational since September 2011.

Easy access
The terminal was constructed on a 35-hectare sand suppletion site on Maasvlakte in Rotterdam close to the North Sea port entrance. This location offers excellent accessibility for LNG carriers and all necessary facilities for the support and handling of these vessels are present. The Rotterdam location offers efficient access to large natural gas and LNG sales markets in Northwest Europe.

Reliable and safe
LNG is liquefied natural gas. When cooling gas to -162 degrees Celsius, it becomes liquid. This reduces its volume by a factor of 600, enabling it to be stored and transported in a very efficient and safe way. LNG is not pressurised and is odourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. This is one of the reasons it makes a favourable alternative fuel for inland vessels and trucks. The properties of LNG are different from traditional fuels, which means that other safety measures are also required.

Safety has the highest priority at Gate terminal, and we are proud that, since the start of operations, no single accident resulting in injury has occurred. ‘Zero’ is our aim as well as the prevention of near misses and incidents. Our safety procedures are therefore subject to continuous optimisation, so that everyone working at the terminal adheres to the same high safety requirements and standards. A safety culture is just as important. The good results we achieve are mainly due to our staff’s commitment and skills. We always put safety first, so that we can provide services to our customers at the highest safety level as well as ensure that our neighbours can rely on professional business operations.

Flexible energy with natural gas and LNG
Gate terminal is seeing a significant increase in LNG business, as it is abundantly available and can be supplied across the world. Together with the increased demand for energy, there are also requirements to reduce the impact on the environment and health. Natural gas and LNG offer a good solution for this. They form a flexible source of energy to supplement renewable solar and wind power sources and are expected to continue to be important for many years to come.

Natural gas is developing from a standard supply to a customised product. This means that it is used where sustainable alternatives are unavailable and where it can offer the greatest value for society and the end user. This approach, together with innovations and renewable gases, means that the entire energy supply can remain climate-neutral (less CO2), reliable and affordable. As the production of natural gas is reducing faster than its consumption in Europe, the import of natural gas or LNG contributes to energy supply security for households and industry.

Facts & Figures
Technical details:

  • Location: Maasvlakte, port area in Rotterdam
  • Size of site: 35 hectares
  • Three storage tanks
  • Three jetties
  • Three loading sites for road tankers
  • LNG throughput capacity: 12 bcm/year
  • Net tank capacity: 180,000 m3. Gross tank capacity: 200,000 m3
  • Tank dimensions: 40 metres high at the sides and 55 metres in the centre, diameter approximately 86 metres
  • Type of tank: ‘full containment’ (double-walled with steel inner tank, thick thermal insulation and concrete outer tank)
  • Loading speed (unloading capacity): 12,500 m3/hour LNG
  • Vessels: all standard-type LNG carriers including the largest LNG carriers in the world with a capacity of approximately 270,000 m3, up to 350 metres in length and a draught of approximately 12.5 metres
  • Start of terminal operations: September 2011

Milestones

2017
16 August: First LNG-powered truck loads at Gate terminal
10 July: Start of operations of two new loading stations for road tankers

2016
29 August: Gate terminal expands to include a third loading facility especially for smaller ships

2015
25 June: Hundredth LNG carrier berths
30 March: Gate terminal starts construction of third berth in the Port of Rotterdam

2014
21 January: Start of transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by road tanker from Gate terminal

2012
29 January: Gate terminal was proclaimed ‘LNG Project of the Year’ at the European Gas Conference in Vienna

2011
23 September: Her Majesty the Queen opens the first Dutch import terminal for liquefied natural gas
1 September: First commercial LNG cargo arrives at Gate terminal

2008
28 June: Minister Van der Hoeven gives official starting signal for the construction of Gate terminal, the first terminal for liquefied natural gas in the Netherlands

2007
18 December: Final investment decision taken for the construction of the first Dutch LNG terminal in Rotterdam

2005
10 November: Gasunie and Vopak establish Gate terminal B.V.
16 August: Vopak and Gasunie start feasibility study for the development of the LNG terminal on Maasvlakte near Rotterdam

Accessible location

The LNG terminal with its storage tanks and regasification plant will be built on a newly reclaimed 35 hectare site directly to the south of Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, close to the port entrance on the North Sea coast. The location provides easy access to LNG carriers and all auxiliary and handling facilities are available. The Rotterdam location also provides easy access to the nearby natural gas market in northwest Europe. Synergy will be generated with industrial complexes in the direct vicinity, for example through the use of residual heat. Gate has signed a contract with E.ON, for example, to take residual heat from the nearby E.ON power station.