LNG bunkering options will grow in the US starting in 2020, in line with increased demand from new dual-fuel vessels entering the North American market
Shipowners that have opted to burn LNG as a marine fuel to comply with IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap will benefit from the world’s first LNG bunker articulated tug barge (ATB) unit, due to enter service next year. Under construction at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the ATB is being chartered by Shell to initially bunker four internationally flagged dual-fuel ships calling in the US in 2020.
The ATB is being built for Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport, LLC (Q-LNG), jointly owned by Shane Guidry, chairman of US-based Harvey Gulf International Marine, who has a 70% stake in the company, and HGIM, which controls the remaining interest. Q-LNG will own and operate the ATB, commencing with a long-term contract with Shell Trading (U.S) Company to deliver LNG as a fuel to various ports in Florida and Southeast US.
Q-LNG president Chad Verret tells LNG World Shipping that Shell will use the 4,000 m3 ATB to bunker Carnival Cruise Line’s two new 180,000-grt dual-fuel ships and two dual-fuel Siem Car Carrier pure car truck carriers (PCTCs) that are being chartered by the Volkswagen Group to transport vehicles from Europe to North America.
Siem Confucius, the first of the two PCTC newbuilds, was launched at China’s Xiamen Shipyard in May, with delivery set for November 2019. Sister vessel Siem Aristole is set for delivery in Q1 2020. The PCTCs will each have an overall length of 200 m, beam of 36 m, with capacities for 4,500 vehicles, and a 3,000-m3 LNG fuel tank installed below deck.
Shell will have access to the LNG to be produced by the new small-scale liquefaction trains at the Elba Island LNG terminal in Savannah, Georgia, where the ATB will be loaded. Mr Verret says the ATB will be homeported at Port Canaveral in Florida.
In November 2017 Q-LNG contracted VT Halter Marine for engineering services to complete the detailed functional design to develop and construct the LNG bunkering ATB. ATBs are fairly common in the US, consisting of a dedicated tug and barge designed with a notched stern and coupling system.
For propulsion power, the ATB tug is equipped with EPA-compliant, Tier 4 GE 6L250 MDC main engines that produce a total of 5,100 hp and Z-drives. The tug, Q-Ocean Service, has an overall length of 39 m, beam of 12.8 m and depth of 6.4 m.
Wärtsilä was selected to supply LNG handling, automation, propulsion and bridge systems for the ATB. This includes Wärtsilä’s main propulsion steerable thrusters and shaft lines on the tug. There will also be Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum dynamic positioning, navigation, communications and automation on the tug.
Fitted with four 1,000-m3 IMO Type C cargo tanks, the barge will have a capacity of 4,000 m3, with an overall length of 98.7 m, beam of 19.5 m and depth of 9.9 m. Built to ABS class and compliance with the International Gas Carrier (IGC) code, the bunker barge will be named Q-LNG 4000.
On the barge, Wärtsilä supplied the LNG cargo storage, handling, and control systems, plus a bow thruster, automation, power management, and ballast water management systems. Mr Verret says that a Letter of Intent has been signed with VT Halter Marine to build a second, larger ATB with an 8,000 m3 capacity, but this is yet to be confirmed.
When delivered in Q1 2020, the 4,000-m3 ATB will join the Clean Jacksonville as the only LNG bunker vessels in the US. Clean Jacksonville, built by Conrad Orange shipyard in Orange, Texas, is owned by Tote Maritime. Homeported in Jacksonville, Florida, Clean Jacksonville is operated by Foss Maritime, bunkering LNG for Tote’s two LNG-fuelled, 3,100-teu containerships Isla Bella and Perla del Caribe. The barge features one 2,200 m3 capacity tank equipped with Mark III Flex cargo containment technology from the French engineering and technology company GTT. GTT engineered a new generation Reach4 loading arm for the inland barge to facilitate bunkering of the container vessels.
Gas trials for the Clean Jacksonville were held in July 2018 at HGIM’s LNG facility at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, the state’s southernmost port and a logistical hub for offshore oil and gas activity for the Gulf of Mexico. The HGIM facility offers truck loading, local storage and tank-to-ship bunkering for Harvey Gulf’s five dual-fuel platform supply vessels.
Designed to operate in inland waterways, bays, harbours and US coastal waters, the bunker barge has no propulsion machinery and is towed via hawser wire or pushed from the stern and manoeuvred at the hip by a tug, with the ability to be towed at a maximum speed of eight knots on its 1.6 km transit down river. Clean Jacksonville has a length overall of 64.6 m, beam of 14.6 m and draught of 2.6 m.
Rhode Island-based naval architect and marine engineering firm Bristol Harbor Group (BHGI) was responsible for the design and engineering of the bunker barge. BHGI’s sister company The Shearer Group, Inc based in Texas, provided technical/shipyard support during the construction.
The Port of Jacksonville (Jaxport) is home to the Talleyrand Marine Terminal which serves as the bunkering facility for Crowley Maritime’s two dual-fuel container/roll-on/roll-off (ConRo) vessels Taíno and El Coquí. Those ships operate in Jones Act trade between the port and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Eagle LNG’s Talleyrand LNG Bunker Station has storage capacity of 1.9M litres of LNG, with a design capacity flow rate of 10,000 litres per minute, which is sufficient to fuel each of Crowley’s vessels in less than eight hours. The Talleyrand LNG Bunker Station is routinely filled via truck from Eagle LNG’s Maxville LNG Facility.
Maxville LNG has a storage capacity of 3.8M litres of LNG and production capacity of 757,000 litres per day, exceeding the refueling needs of Crowley, making LNG available for sale in standard ISO containers to southeast US and Caribbean island customers.
Caribbean island nations could well benefit from a new small-scale liquefaction facility on the north bank of the St Johns River in Jacksonville being developed by Eagle LNG Partners. In April, the facility cleared a major milestone with the receipt of a final environmental impact statement from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Three trains at the Eagle LNG facility would each have a nominal capacity of 0.33M metric tonnes per annum (mta) of LNG. An onsite storage tank would have a capacity of 45,000 m3, and marine facilities would have two loading arms capable of docking and mooring small- and mid-scale LNG carriers.
Eagle LNG anticipates serving LNG carriers with capacities between 6,500 m3 to 45,000 m3 and bunker vessels with capacities of 3,400 m3. Additionally, Eagle LNG would load a portion of the LNG produced at the terminal onto tanker trucks for road distribution to refueling stations in Florida and Georgia.
While no agreements have been executed for the transportation of LNG in trucks, Eagle LNG anticipates it would load 260 to 520 LNG trucks, each with a 45,000-litre capacity, per year at the terminal. Developed by US-based AES, Costa Norte LNG Terminal in Colon is located near the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. The import jetty is designed to receive LNG vessels from 30,000 to 180,000 m3.
AES is also looking to export gas from the LNG terminal in Santo Domingo, via small-scale LNG carriers, barges and via ISO containers to other islands in the Caribbean.
Despite a favourable environmental report issued by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Tacoma LNG continues to face local opposition, particularly from the Puyallup Tribe. Being developed by local utility Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma LNG would have the capacity to produce 950,000 litres of LNG per day for marine vessels and heavy vehicles, with on-site storage capacity of 30M litres. Initial customers of the facility would be Tote Maritime, which would bunker its two Orca Class roll-on/roll-off (roro) vessels that operate on the US West Coast to Alaska. Those vessels are being converted to burn LNG as a fuel, with completion targeted for Q1 2021.
Tote’s two converted roro vessels and two dual-fuel, 2,525-teu container vessels under construction for The Pasha Group will grow the US-flag fleet of LNG-fuelled vessels to 13. Pasha’s Ohana Class container vessels, George III and Janet Marie, will be deployed in mainland US to Hawaii service, following their delivery by Keppel AmFELS shipyard in 2020.
LNG bunkering in Canada
In Canada, LNG bunkering infrastructure is starting to crop up in and around the province of Quebec. Working with Gaz Métro, the Port of Montreal has been offering a truck-to-ship refueling solution to shipowners calling at the port since 2017. One owner to bunker at the port is Quebec City-based shipowner Groupe Desgagnes Inc, which has five dual-fuel oil/chemical tankers in its fleet of 20 vessels.
“Desgagnés has bunkered LNG at each of the two separate approved locations in the Port of Montreal and we have bunkered LNG in the Port of Quebec”, says Petro-Nav president Jacques Beauchamp.
Montreal-based PetroNav Inc is the commercial operator for Desgagnes’ fleet of bulk liquid tankers. Mr Beauchamp says the LNG bunkerings in Canada have been handled by truck-to-ship transfer. “On one occasion, we used pipe-to-ship transfer at Cartagena, Spain,” he says, while noting the Port of Valleyfield is currently undergoing approval for LNG bunkering.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, FortisBC has been using a truck-to-ship bunkering solution for refueling the LNG-fuelled ferries operated by BC Ferries and Seaspan Ferries. In 2018, FortisBC president and chief executive Roger Dall’Antonia said the gas utility collaborated with BC Ferries in the development of “a first-in-the-world proprietary tanker truck technology to deliver fuel while onboard the vessel.”
Recent capital investments at BC Ferries have been aimed at creating “a sustainable and environmentally friendly ferry system”, noted BC Ferries president and chief executive Mark Collins. BC Ferries has five LNG-fuelled ferries in its fleet.
FortisBC supplied 8.3M litres of LNG as fuel for road trucks and 44M litres of LNG for LNG-powered BC Ferries and Seaspan Ferry vessels from its Tilbury LNG facility in Vancouver last year.
Following a US$400M expansion, FortisBC’s small-scale liquefaction facility Tilbury LNG can produce 250,000 tonnes per year of LNG with storage capacity of 46,000 m3. FortisBC has applied for permits to construct the Tilbury Pacific Marine Jetty to provide LNG bunkering capabilities for ships and vessels calling at the Port of Vancouver.