Shell will long-term charter the largest LNG bunker vessel yet in the US, after inking a deal with Crowley Maritime for a 12,000-m3 capacity newbuild
Ordered from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the 126.8-m vessel will have “advanced technologies in cargo handling capabilities and increased transfer rates, including a state-of-the-art solution from Shell and Crowley Engineering Services to flexibly deliver LNG to various types of LNG containment systems”, said Crowley in a press statement.
A Crowley spokesperson confirmed the barge will be fitted with two IMO Type C, foam-insulated tanks, with a beam of 20.7 m, depth of 11.6 m and design draught of 5.8 m. Privately held Crowley will manage the crew and bunker barge under the charter with Shell. When delivered in 2024, the LNG bunker barge will service LNG-fuelled vessels on the US east coast. Under its contract, Crowley holds options with Fincantieri to build additional barges.
“Shell is dedicated to growing our LNG bunkering network across key trade routes, and this barge supports our commitment to helping provide our customers with the energy solution they are looking for,” said Shell global downstream LNG general manager Tahir Faruqui. “The shipping sector is making progress towards decarbonisation, and LNG offers immediate emissions reduction with the potential to become a net-zero emissions marine fuel given the possible roles of bioLNG and synthetic LNG.”
Shell has a long-term charter for Q-LNG’s Q-LNG 4000 LNG bunker vessel, which is stationed in Port Canaveral, Florida. Q-LNG 4000 has conducted a number of LNG bunkering operations, including refuelling Carnival’s first LNG-powered cruise ship, Mardi Gras.
Crowley Shipping vice president Tucker Gilliam noted the strong uptake of LNG-fuelled tonnage. “Orders for ships fuelled by liquefied natural gas continue to rise, and the vessel will provide Shell an innovative and reliable service to meet demands for more sustainable energy sources,” said Mr Gilliam. In 2020, about 6% of newbuild orders were for vessels using alternative fuels. This year, it has almost doubled to 12%, most of those using LNG.
There are 221 LNG-fuelled vessels in operation and another 354 on order or under construction, according to DNV’s Alternative Fuels Insight.
Global LNG bunkering infrastructure is growing, too. There are 31 LNG bunker vessels in operation, two of which are in the US, with another 23 on order or under construction. Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding is building Clean Canaveral, a 5,400-m3 capacity LNG bunker barge for Polar New Energy (PNE) for delivery in Q4 2021.
Besides Q-LNG 4000, Florida is also home to LNG bunker barge Clean Jacksonville, which serves Tote Maritime’s two LNG-powered container ships, Isla Bella and Perla del Caribe. Both 3,100-TEU box ships operate between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico in the Jones Act trade.
While this newbuild will be Crowley’s first LNG bunker vessel, it is far from its first foray into LNG. It has its own fleet of LNG-powered vessels serving Puerto from Jacksonville, the conro ships El Coquí and Taíno. The 2,400-TEU vessels have a capacity to carry containers, ranging from 20-ft standard to 53-ft, and up to 300 refrigerated containers. Additionally, the conros have ventilated and weather-tight decks for a mix of nearly 400 cars and larger vehicles.
By burning LNG as their primary fuel, the ships offer a 38% reduction in CO2 emissions per container as compared with existing fossil fuels says Crowley. Built to DNV class, the conros have a Clean notation, signifying limited operational emissions and discharges, and Green Passport to identify hazardous materials on board.
These vessels are fuelled at the Eagle LNG Talleyrand LNG Bunker Station located at the Port of Jacksonville, the first of its kind in North America to provide shoreside storage and bunkering equipment to deliver LNG for the conros.
About 32 km from downtown Jacksonville, Eagle LNG’s small-scale Maxville LNG Facility provides LNG for daily transfers by truck to Talleyrand assuring Crowley’s weekly fuel supply. Additionally, Eagle LNG supplies LNG via ISO tank containers for distribution into the Caribbean for power and industrial users.
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