(EnergyAsia, February 18 2014, Tuesday) — Qatargas said one of its chartered Q-flex vessels transferred a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to another in an unknown part of the Singapore Straits last month after it was damaged in an unspecified incident.

While there were no reported injuries or impact on the environment, Qatargas said the incident caused “minor damage” to the vessel, forcing the company to undertake its first ship-to-ship (STS) cargo transfer operation on open waters.

The transfer of the 211,000-cubic metre cargo was conducted at anchor by an unnamed contractor that Qatargas has described as being experienced in LNG ship-to-ship transfer operations.

While Qatargas said the transfer occurred between January 22 and 28, it did not mention when the incident took place, and if it had alerted the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

According to Norwegian classification society DNV, LNG is a dangerous substance classified under the extremely flammable gases category. It is not known if traffic through the Singapore Straits was affected or might have been at risk during the LNG transfer operation.

In a statement, the state-owned company of Qatar, which is the world’s largest producer of LNG, said:

“Reinforcing Qatargas’ paramount commitment to the safety of people and the protection of the environment; rigorous planning, including formal risk assessment, were completed and approved by all concerned parties prior to the start of the ship-to-ship operations.

“In line with our strong commitment to total customer satisfaction, various scenarios options were considered and the ship-to-ship operation was identified by Qatargas as a key element to ensuring that Qatargas commitments and obligations to their valued customers were met. This was only achievable through the collective and collaborative effort of all parties involved in the operation, and with the cooperation and support of Qatargas’ customers.”

The MPA did not mention the incident on its website, although it subsequently reported three separate vessel collisions in different locations in Singapore waters on January 28, 29 and February 10.

Following the collisions which resulted in spillage of fuel and chemicals, the MPA said it is investigating the possibility of “systemic issues” while announcing that it is immediately implementing measures to minimise such incidents.