Sodegaura Terminal Trip of Tokyo City Gas System

The third Factory Study Tour (FST) was held on December 8th, 2009. In this trip we were went to the Sodegaura Terminal which one of the Gas terminal in Tokyo City Gas system. The Sodegaura terminal is actually located in Tokyo bay the sea side of Chiba Prefecture and operating for the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) receiving terminal. This trip was ran with aims to gave basic understanding about gas system in Tokyo as well as the basic knowledge about LNG itself for the participants.

In Japan, LNG is one of the most important primary energy in many sectors, such as industries, transportations and houses. For industries, the gas is used to be one of the main energy for industries operation as well as for electric generation besides oil, and coal. On the transport section several cars and buses were built to use LNG as their fuel. Meanwhile, for houses the gas has various functions from cooking, water heater, floor heater, and so on.

Operated since 1973, Sodegaura terminal starting to be one of the most important and the largest LNG terminal in Japan (it also predicted to be the largest in the world). This terminal and also other terminals are playing significant role in Tokyo gas system to ensure the gas distribution of Tokyo area. These terminals categorized as receiving terminal are the starting point to receive the gas from outside Japan and then send it to the City Gas system. All the process are operated automatically and controlled remotely to keep the safety of the labor as well as keep the effective and reliable quality control.

Sodegaoura terminal is interconnected to the system called City Gas. This system was enabling the LNG to be distributed for city consumption through pipeline in high and medium pressure. In case some problems or disaster appear, this system is able to keep safety by stopping and blocking the gas flow then followed with other actions. Safety is become major point in this sector due to Japan has already known as the country with many earthquake appears every years.

Before sending LNG to the system, Sodegaura terminal has takes some action through gas process flow to ensure the gas quality. The operation is also converting the form of LNG from liquid to gas in the process of vaporization involving sea water. In addition to use sea water, the conversion section is also reused the warm waste water to perform the efficient and optimum in the design and operation of the system. After the LNG was converted to gas, then the gas is distributed using pipeline, tank truck, or ship tankers.

During this trip, aside from the information of Sodegaura terminal and the city gas system, we were also had explanation (or could be I can said it “Jikken” or experiment) about LNG itself and a trip around Sodegaura terminal. In the LNG explanation we were saw the demonstration using various kind objects to bring a clear perspective of LNG safety and showing the operation temperature of LNG. It was nice to know that the temperature operation of LNG is very cold (lower than -2000 C) that can make flower and rubber ball become frozen and fragile. Meanwhile, in the trip section we were saw the infrastructure of Sodegaura terminal contains of some interesting parts which one of the most was the in-ground LNG tank. These tanks are used to keep LNG before it will be sent to the system, and these tanks also have symbols to show the origin of LNG. As my country, Indonesia is one of the suppliers for Sodegaura terminal, there also one Indonesia in-ground tank with “Orang Utan” picture as the symbol was paste on the surface, nice.

From this trip it was give me short and brief information about the gas system especially for Sodegaura terminal. Despite Japan has lack natural source as LNG source but this country can optimize and utilize LNG in many sectors by importing it from other countries. It was also wonderful knowing that several equipments in our houses for cooking and heater are came from LNG and connected to the huge system of gas distribution. However, due to the time constraint we didn’t have many things to explore from this company. Afterward the trip was over and we were back to campus brought our experience in mind.