Case Study - LNG Import Facility

LNG fire protection

Contributor:  Paul Felch,  Project Manager of F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

What started as a fairly standard project, turned complex when Mother Nature turned on it. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems used their expertise, resources, and perpetual objective for customer satisfaction to skillfully complete a project despite continuous adversity.

One of the Nation's Largest Liquefied Natural Gas Import Facilities

Located on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Maryland, this Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import facility connects to one gas pipeline and two gas transmissions to provide 1.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of LNG a day, making this facility the largest LNG importer in the country. One Bcf alone is capable of supplying 3.4 million homes with energy. As an LNG import facility supplying energy to millions of homes a day, a fire could be catastrophic.

Protecting People, Plant, and Production

This LNG import facility understands the importance of preeminent fire protection. To prevent any fire protection risk, the plant chose to find a solution to reduce the odds of an underground fire main leak in the aging fire main piping at the first stage pumps and cold blower buildings. These structures are an integral part of operating five of seven LNG tanks. An underground leak in that area would risk the LNG lines and impair fire protection. It was prudent to find a fire protection solution provider with expertise in high risk environments.

The Need for Paramount Fire Protection

Recognizing the need for paramount fire protection, the LNG import facility chose F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to provide solutions to their fire protection needs. To guarantee successful fire protection at the first stage pumps and cold blower buildings, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems redirected the existing underground fire water mains, which included divorcing and capping existing mains and providing one new hydrant and water monitor. Additionally, they replaced two aging deluge valves and converted the dry pilot deluge detection system into a linear heat detection system. The facility required welded pipes, as opposed to the typical industry standard use of PVC-based piping, and, to ensure quality control, x-rayed each weld.

Complete Project Despite Unusual Events

With a working facility, production is at risk during a fire protection solution installation. It was imperative to keep installation time to a minimum. Paul Felch, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Project Manager said, "We had to get the system back up and running ASAP so the customer was fully protected." F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems ably completed the project, despite the unusual circumstances.

The nature of an underground installation is innately more involved than standard installations. An excavation contractor needed to be hired to dig trenches for the underground installation. Whenever a project has an underground component, there are always unforeseen obstacles that arise. Upon excavation, it was noted that on-site customization was needed. This was the first of several unexpected issues that would take place during the project.


It could not have been predicted that following the excavation, three natural disasters would follow. To begin, on August 12, 2011, torrential rains pounded Maryland, with some areas getting as much as 6 inches of rain in one day, caving in the trenches. Following the downpour, on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the east coast and Mid-Atlantic regions. It was tied as the highest magnitude earthquake east of the Rocky Mountains. Only a few days later, on August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene struck, grossing the highest damage costs, $7 billion, on record and taking the lives of 56 people.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Finds Solutions in Extenuating Circumstances

The unusual circumstances of this project were unforeseen, but with thirty years of experience, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems took each problem in stride and completed the project.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems first had to resolve the obstacles that were found underground. They cut 10" pipe runs to miss the various underground obstacles that were encountered, quickly resolving the issue.

Underground hindrances were minor issues compared to the three natural disasters that plagued the project. The first, a torrential downpour, caved in the trenches for the underground installation. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems had to re-dig the trenches, adding reinforced walls, keeping safety as a priority.

Only eleven days later, an earthquake hit Maryland followed four days later by Hurricane Irene. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems personnel camped out, waiting to resume the project, resulting in only a short suspension of installation.

Despite the surge of barriers F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems faced throughout the project, they completed the project and delivered an impeccable result. Due to F.E. Moran Special Hazard System's perseverance, expertise, and professionalism, the LNG import facility now has a solution to their fire protection needs.

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