On the morning of March 10, the "Polar Spirit," a specialized tanker that delivers LNG between ConocoPhillips' Kenai facility and Tokyo, Japan, was safely loaded as it had been for decades. The loading lines were cleared, documentation was completed and systems were being prepared for the 8-day voyage to Tokyo. Although the process had safely occurred without incident nearly 1500 times in the past, the delivery on March 10th was special, according to Kenai LNG superintendent Peter Micciche. "At noon, dozens of present workers, retired employees and officers aboard the Polar Spirit gathered for lunch to share mixed feelings and stories as they celebrated the last traditional load of LNG from the Kenai Facility to customers in Japan," said Micciche.
As the group gathered, several key statistics were shared by Mike Spangler, ConocoPhillips' Cook Inlet operations manager. He explained that the facility had enjoyed an excellent record for over 42 years without a single serious injury or environmental incident. Spangler also stated that 1,450 ships had safely released from the facility for the Tokyo voyage since 1969, representing approximately 700 million barrels or approximately 2.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Polar Spirit officers Captain Alexey Kharitonov and Chief Engineer Matteo Giuca were also on hand for the celebration along with Mike Shane, Buck Steiner and Gene Granath, the three original retired employees of the Facility to complete the history-making celebration. "All three were here for the first load in 1969 and present for the last delivery 42 years later," said Micciche who introduced a slide show of historic facility photos and expressed his appreciation to all the employees, past and present, for everything they had done to guarantee the success of the facility through the years. "The key to ConocoPhillips' global LNG success is primarily due to the success of this Nikiski facility; a record simply not possible without the commitment from all of you for the past 42 years. Not only have you excelled here at the facility, but you have also served as a cornerstone of the Kenai Peninsula community as Little League coaches, non-profit board members and Sunday school teachers. For over 40 years, your commitment has demonstrated that ConocoPhillips is not only committed to the safe and responsible operation of our facilities, but also to the success of the communities in which we operate," said Micciche.
As those gathered watched slides of the history of the facility on the screen, there were many chuckles, comments and stories about the past and the hundreds of families and community members involved in the history of the Kenai LNG Facility. Following the brief gathering, employees were shuttled to the marine terminal for a commemorative photo of the historic event. With the Polar Spirit and Mount Redoubt serving as a picturesque backdrop on the beautiful, clear winter day. "It was an emotional farewell as the officers were dropped off at the ship for their voyage to Japan," added Micciche, "It was clear by the dampness in the eyes of many present that a very special era in the history of the Kenai Peninsula was coming to a close as it was being celebrated."
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