Fraser Bennie joined Trelleborg Oil and Marine in 2019 as LNG Business Development Manager. He brings with him a wealth of experience and industry contacts built up over 20 years in the LNG sector. In this interview, we find out more about his journey from his hometown in Scotland to the centre of France where he now lives and works, and get his take on what’s to come for the rapidly evolving LNG market.
Hi Fraser. Can you start by telling us a bit about your professional experience before joining Trelleborg?
My career as an engineer started around 27 years ago, when I decided to take on a job in France after finishing my Honours degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Having spent my final year at a French engineering school in south-west France, I decided to stay on, moving close to Paris where I started work as a project manager. During this time, I managed complex gas compression packages for petrochemical installations around the world.
I spent around six years there, before changing company and evolving into different roles in cryogenic gases and liquid handling within the maritime sector of LNG.
Since 2014, I’ve worked as a chartered engineer, specialising in LNG business development and technical sales. I’ve worked in many different areas, including LNG ship repair, risk mitigation, Emergency Release Systems, LNG transfers and IGF Code training.
This has provided me with a wide view of the LNG marine market, where I enjoy interacting, learning and assisting others.
Was it by accident or design that you ended up in the LNG field?
Looking back at my career so far, I guess this can be traced back to an apprenticeship I did as a teenage boy in Scotland. After high school I started as an apprentice with a high-tech company that produced naval submarine periscopes. The effect it left on me provided the inspiration to get out there and do more for myself. This was when I decided to go to university to study mechanical engineering. Then it was in France, of course, where I started working with gas compression and treatment, then cryogenics, then the marine world, and the rest is my little history, as they say.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Living in France, I’ve learned to speak French fluently (in school I was actually pretty dismal at languages). This has given me an insight into another culture to the Anglo-Saxon one of my birth, and how important good communication is.
I’ve been lucky to travel a lot of countries over the course of my career, dealing with major companies and their projects. It’s enriching to see how different organisations operate, to get an insight into their company DNA – what makes them tick and what they do differently.
As someone who has been very close to the development of the LNG market over the past two decades, what do you see as the major trends at the moment?
Looking at the LNG distribution market, it’s clear that demand is growing exponentially, along with the need to transport and distribute LNG in international, coastal and fluvial distribution projects.
We’ve seen peaks like this before in 2006 and 2014 - with huge increases in numbers of LNG carriers. However, today we see major LNGC construction, LNG fuelled vessels and multiple SSLNG distribution projects.
For the last 3-4 years the industry has been hesitant to commit to LNG as a bunker fuel, but now we’re seeing sophisticated and defined projects coming out, particularly in Europe, North and South America and Asia. It’s a very exciting time for the industry and all those working within it.
What does a typical day look like for you at Trelleborg?
For me every day is different. As LNG business development manager my role is to build opportunities and relationships for the Cryoline product team. Of course, some of this will involve leaning on my existing connections in the LNG industry, but a big focus of my job is building new relationships with potential customers and industry contacts.
Recently the team and I took a trip to Athens to see different ship owners and explain the different advantages of Trelleborg’s floating hose-in-hose technology. We are also visiting gas terminals to talk about lowering CAPEX by using floating hose solutions instead of traditional jetties for small-scale LNG re-exportations.
What is it that makes Trelleborg so unique in your opinion?
Working with Trelleborg has been hugely inspiring so far. They’re working at the forefront of the LNG sector, bringing well needed technology, so being a part of their team opens a window to the future of the LNG world – a world that is already here and rapidly evolving.
Their LNG transfer solution is like nothing else on the market at the moment. It’s a real reflection of the innovation that permeates the company and their technical expertise. When I’m out speaking to customers, I enjoy talking through the hose-in-hose technology and its many advantages. These include eliminating methane slip (losses), the high safety standards, flexibility and resistance, and also the integrated monitoring system with fibre optic technology, which detects any potential leak in real time while monitoring precooling and warm-up operations.
And finally, when you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
My wife and I are both great fans of the great outdoors, so we spend most of our time getting out and enjoying the mountains. In the winter this often involves making regular day trips to the Alps for a spot of skiing; while in the summer we love to go swimming in the local rivers or visit the various regional Chateaux.