An LNG bunkering trailblazer, Sean Lalani discusses how stakeholder engagement and a solid partnership were key in the development of a refuelling station in Jacksonville
Small-scale LNG (ssLNG) and LNG bunkering are relatively new phenomena. This meant as a pioneer of ssLNG and LNG in the US in 2015, Eagle LNG faced a “whole host of challenges” when it was developing its Maxville LNG Facility – an ssLNG plant just outside of Jacksonville, Florida- and the Talleyrand LNG Bunker Facility at the Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT).
“Very little had been done before [and] certainly nothing in terms of a shore-to-ship-type bunkering application,” said Eagle LNG president Sean Lalani during an interview at Riviera Maritime Media’s LNG Bunkering and Refuelling| Americas Virtual Conference. Given the novel nature of the bunkering operation, Mr Lalani said, “it was something the industry hadn’t seen before and regulatory agencies were trying to understand how to properly regulate what we were proposing to do.” This meant working closely with stakeholders on the local, state and federal level, including the US Department of Transportation, Pipeline, Hazardous Materials Safety Agency, US Coast Guard, JAXPORT, local government and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
Mr Lalani emphasised the importance of engaging and educating the public about LNG and the project’s economic benefits in the development process. He said it was beneficial that Eagle LNG was simultaneously developing its Maxville LNG Facility just outside of Jacksonville at the same time it was building its Talleyrand LNG Bunkering Facility. This allowed it to hold open houses for the general public and dispel misinformation about LNG. “There are a lot of misnomers and what could be termed ‘fake news’ … about the characteristics of LNG, dangers of LNG, properties of LNG and properties of methane,” he said.
“There are a lot of misnomers and what could be termed ‘fake news’ … about the characteristics of LNG”
Mr Lalani said Eagle LNG was “incredibly fortunate,” lavishing praise on Crowley Maritime – a privately held US-flag shipowner and the company’s partner in the development of the LNG bunkering operation.
JAXPORT is home to Crowley Maritime’s two dual-fuel 2,400-teu conro vessels, El Coquí and Taíno, that have been operating out the port since 2018 and 2019, respectively. Carrying a mix of containers and up to 400 vehicles, the Commitment-class ships sail weekly to San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Jones Act trade. Both ships are refuelled by Eagle LNG’s bunker station, which has storage capacity of 1.9M litres of LNG. The facility’s design capacity flow rate of 10,000 litres per minute is sufficient to fuel each of Crowley’s vessels in less than eight hours. Crowley’s conro vessels are fueled via a Mobile Transfer Unit, allowing simultaneous operations (SIMOPS), including gantry crane operation and container movement forward and roro aft of accommodation.
Since SIMPOS are conducted, Mr Lalani said safety was “absolutely paramount”, underpinned by constant communication between the Crowley and Eagle LNG teams.
The Talleyrand LNG Bunker Station is routinely filled via truck from Eagle LNG’s ssLNG plant, the 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 refuelling needs of Crowley, making LNG available for sale in standard ISO containers to the southeast US and Caribbean.
Jacksonville continues to develop as an LNG hub for the US southeast and Caribbean. Eagle LNG has received approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the new Jacksonville LNG Facility, which will have a processing capacity of 6.2M litres of LNG per day, with onsite LNG storage of 45.4M litres.