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Operations and major projects

Strategic activities and projects maintained despite COVID-19


The COVID-19 health crisis is exerting a significant impact on people’s lives, the global economy and the functioning of businesses. Business and projects are continuing at the Dunkirk LNG terminal, with developments that require flexibility, responsiveness and large adaptation capacities, according to Luc Warzee, Technical Director of Dunkerque LNG.

The COVID-19 epidemic has forced many companies to suspend their operations. What about the Dunkerque LNG terminal?

The activities of the Dunkerque LNG terminal are strategic: they ensure the gas supply for part of France and Belgium. We therefore had no other option than to continue the service we provide while ensuring the health and safety of our employees. We began to anticipate issues even before the lockdown announcement by implementing a Business Continuity Plan to protect the teams. As from 5th April, we set up a special operation adapted to the personnel at the Operations department, with two twelve-hour shifts, which helps to reduce contacts between employees. We also ordered all the equipment required to help prevent the spread of the virus: masks, hydro-alcoholic gel and gloves. The purpose of this was to make them available to all personnel working on the site. To date, there have not been any cases of COVID-19 contamination among our workforce.

We focused on our priority activities, i.e. unloading LNG carriers on arrival and storage. In total, we handled 19 vessels arriving in April and May, which is consistent with our forecasts and the volume of activity of the terminal over the same period in 2019. On 12th May, we even achieved a record 496 GWh of energy emissions over one day, almost the maximum emissions that the terminal can provide. At the same time, we optimised maintenance in order to focus it on the most relevant tasks. We also ensure the regulatory safety and monitoring required for a high-threshold SEVESO site.

All employees have shown responsiveness and adaptability to the new constraints. Those who come to work on the terminal quickly adopted the new instructions and applied them rigorously. We reviewed some procedures related to operational activities, in particular the procedures relating to the Loading Masters (managers responsible for unloading operations) in partnership with the masters of the ships. To avoid contact with persons on board, new remote communication protocols were implemented for the first time. This is a major achievement that does not affect the safety of operations or the unloading time. In addition, the IT team managed to support and equip around thirty employees in record time to set up remote working. This organisation has proved to be highly effective, leading up to the full reintegration of the workforce on the site at the beginning of June.

You spoke about the priority activities at the Dunkirk terminal. Are your major projects continuing in this health crisis?

We have not suspended our major projects for new facilities and changes to existing ones, but we have adapted their schedules. Trials and performance tests on the tanker lorry filling station were successfully completed. We are now starting the commercial commissioning of this new service. The project to develop of the jetty to accommodate supply vessels is also continuing. We now have to install facilities to will allow these lower tonnage vessels to dock. This work is planned to last one week and precludes any rotation of ships: we have therefore scheduled it for June, during the terminal maintenance shutdown. As a result of effective forward planning, rigorous management and the unfailing commitment of the teams, the COVID-19 crisis will have had no major impact on our site. The Dunkirk LNG terminal and its 80 employees have proved their ability to adapt to an unprecedented crisis.

Article présenté sur la lettre d'information : Juin 2020


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