A naming ceremony was held at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi for Q-LNG 4000, the world’s first LNG bunker articulated tug barge (ATB) vessel, underpinning the growing LNG bunkering infrastructure in the US
The owner of the ATB is Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport (Q-LNG), a joint venture of Shane Guidry, chairman of US-based Harvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM), who has a 70% stake in the company, and HGIM, which controls the remaining interest.
Q-LNG will operate the ATB under a long-term contract with Shell Trading (US) Company to deliver LNG as a fuel to various ports in Florida and southeast US. Based at Port Canaveral in Florida, Q-LNG will load LNG produced at the Elba Island LNG terminal in Savannah, Georgia.
Built to ABS class rules and compliance with the International Gas Carrier code, Q-LNG 4000 is designed to provide ship-to-ship transfers of LNG to vessels that burn LNG as fuel and also ship-to-shore transfers for small-scale LNG distribution infrastructure in the US Gulf of Mexico.
At Port Fourchon, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, HGIM owns an LNG bunkering facility that refuels the OSV owner’s five LNG-powered platform supply vessels, which are chartered by Shell.
Shell has chartered the 4,000-m3 ATB to bunker Carnival Cruise Line’s two new 180,000-gt dual-fuel ships and two dual-fuel Siem Car Carrier pure car truck carriers chartered by the Volkswagen Group to transport vehicles from Europe to North America.
Ordered in November 2017, Q-LNG 4000 will be launched in October 2019 and delivered in Q1 2020. VT Halter Marine provided engineering services to complete the detailed functional design to develop and construct the LNG bunkering ATB.
The barge is fitted with four 1,000-m3 IMO Type C cargo tanks, 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.
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.
ATBs are fairly common vessel in the US, consisting of a dedicated tug and barge designed with a notched stern and coupling system. The articulated or hinged connection between the tug and barge allows separate movement between the two vessels, making for better performance in rougher sea states, improved manoeuvrability and increased speed and efficiency as compared to towed wire arrangements.
Construction of the ATB tug, Q-Ocean Service, is well underway, with the superstructure as yet to be lifted onto the hull. The tug will have an overall length of 39 m, beam of 12.8 m and depth of 6.4 m.
Propulsion will be supplied by two EPA-compliant, Tier 4 GE 6L250 MDC main engines that produce a total of 5,100 hp and drive two Wärtsilä nozzled Z-drives via Wärtsilä shafting. There will also be Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum dynamic positioning, navigation, communications and automation on the tug.
A letter of intent has been signed between Q-LNG and VT Halter Marine to build a second, larger ATB with 8,000 m3 capacity, but has not yet been confirmed.
Second LNG ATB ordered
Q-LNG 4000 is one of two LNG bunker ATBs being built in the US. The other is a 5,400-m3 capacity tank barge ordered from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by newly formed Polaris New Energy, which holds options to construct two sister vessels.
Polaris New Energy’s 5,400-m3 capacity, 103.5-m long barge will be built to ABS class to transport LNG along the US east coast to bunkering stations for NorthStar Mistream’s customers.
The barge will have a beam of 20.1 m and will have a cargo handling system designed and developed by Wärtsilä. It will be attached to an existing tug as an ATB unit once completed. The ATB will be fitted with four 1,350 m3 IMO Type C tanks.
Polaris New Energy will source the cargo from JAX LNG, a new production facility in Jacksonville, Florida, created through a partnership between NorthStar and Pivotal LNG.
Q-LNG 4000 and the as-yet unnamed ATB for Polaris New Energy will join Clean Jacksonville, used by Tote to refuel its two LNG-powered container ships in Jacksonville, Florida. An inland LNG bunker barge built by Conrad Orange Shipyard in Orange, Texas, Clean Jacksonville has a Mark III Flex cargo containment system with a capacity of 2,200 m3.