A new small-scale LNG terminal in Tacoma, Washington is looking to secure a Jones Act-compliant LNG bunker vessel
GAC Bunker Fuels Limited reports it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Puget LNG, LLC to co-operate in the supply and sale of LNG marine fuel from the new US$310M Tacoma small-scale (ss) LNG terminal in the US Pacific northwest.
When the Tacoma LNG Terminal becomes operational in Q2 2021, it will be the first such facility on North America’s west coast providing direct shoreside loading access for a bunker barge.
A DNV study commissioned by Puget LNG on the feasibility of a bunker barge to supply LNG as fuel to ships in the Puget Sound area concluded that the availability and cost of natural gas, especially in North America, has made the use of LNG an attractive solution for ship operators to comply with air emissions regulations. A growing orderbook for LNG-fuelled vessels has underlined the need to develop LNG supply infrastructure in all major shipping ports and regions, including the Pacific Northwest.
“Partnering with GAC Bunker Fuels is another way Puget LNG is working to create a clean energy future for all as its sister company, Puget Sound Energy, has set an aspirational goal to be a beyond net-zero carbon company by 2045,” says Puget Sound LNG director Blake Littauer. “PSE is targeting to reduce its own carbon emissions to net zero and go beyond by helping other sectors enable carbon reduction across the state,” Mr Littauer adds.
Among Tacoma LNG’s first marine customers will be TOTE Maritime Alaska’s diesel-electric Orca Class trailerships, North Star and Midnight Sun, which operate between Tacoma and Anchorage, Alaska. Each of the ships is undergoing retrofit work to burn LNG as a fuel, involving the fitting of two 1,100 m3 fuel tanks, associated piping and equipment and conversion of their MAN B&W main engines. The conversions are expected to virtually eliminate sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions and particulate matter, while reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90% and CO2 emissions by 35% from the two Orca-class ships. North Star’s conversion was originally expected to be completed in 2021, followed by Midnight Sun’s in 2022.
LNG bunkering of the vessels will be handled once a week by Tacoma LNG at the Port of Tacoma. An Arctic series triple swivel assembly fuel marine loading arm from SVT will be used to refuel the vessels. From the tanks, LNG will be sent to the gasification room, where waste heat will be used to convert the cryogenic liquid to a natural gas, which will fuel the ship’s 52.2 MW of engine power.
Additionally, Tacoma LNG will serve a shared function, providing LNG for Puget LNG’s commercial customers, and the necessary natural gas reserves for Puget Sound Energy’s utility customers. Liquefaction capacity at the ssLNG facility is 852,000 litres per day. The facility’s non-pressurised, full containment storage tank has a capacity of 303M litres.
Puget LNG recently joined SEA/LNG, an industry collaborative supporting the use of LNG as a marine fuel.
“Puget Sound Energy has set an aspirational goal to be a beyond net-zero carbon company by 2045”
“The operational launch of Puget LNG’s port of Tacoma facility is yet another positive step down the decarbonisation pathway,” says SEA/LNG chairman Peter Keller. “ In environmentally sensitive areas, such as the waters surrounding the Port of Tacoma, it is essential to remember that LNG protects oceans, creates a healthier environment in terms of air quality, and is proven safe. Tackling climate challenge is a shared responsibility and must start now – waiting is not an option.”
Jones Act-compliant LNG bunker barge
GAC Bunker Fuels, a division of the Dubai-based GAC Group, will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Jones Act-compliant LNG bunker barge to be constructed, owned, and operated by a third party. The barge would have the flexibility in size and design to serve multiple shipping customers and is expected to be operational in 2023. Loading from Puget LNG’s terminal in Tacoma, the barge will be able to bunker vessels in port. GAC will extend credit terms to shipping companies that purchase fuel on both contract and spot basis.
There are only two LNG bunker vessels currently operating in the US. One is the 2,200-m3 Clean Jacksonville, operating out of the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, serving Tote’s two LNG-fuelled container ships, and the other is the Q-LNG-owned 4,000-m3 Q-LNG 4000, an articulated tug barge (ATB) operating out of Port Canaveral, Florida. A second LNG ATB, Clean Canaveral, is under construction for Polaris New Energy at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, with delivery set for Q4 2021.
Commenting on the MoU with Puget LNG, GAC Bunker Fuels global director Nicholas Browne, says: “This exciting foray into the Pacific Northwest with Puget LNG is the latest expansion of our footprint in the US, adding to GAC’s growing LNG fuel portfolio.”
Galveston LNG Bunker Port
GAC Bunker Fuels secured a deal to supply LNG as a marine fuel last year, having provided brokerage and ship agency services to LNG-fuelled tanker Fure Ven which was the first non-U.S. flagged vessel to receive LNG in a US port. Additionally, GAC Bunker Fuels entered into a heads of agreement with Houston-based Pilot LNG for LNG marine fuel to be delivered ex-ship for its customers in the ports of Houston, Texas City, Galveston and Galveston Offshore Lightering Area.
“The Galveston LNG Bunker Port will provide the LNG to supply GAC’s growing market for cleaner marine fuel, particularly as its customers seek economic ways to comply with tightening emissions regulations, including IMO 2020,” says Pilot chief executive, Jonathan Cook. “The opportunity to work with such a strong global player like GAC is a very exciting step forward for Pilot and the Galveston project.”
Houston-based startup Pilot LNG has proposed developing an LNG bunker terminal using a box-shaped floating LNG (FLNG) vessel located at Pelican Island in Galveston. Permanently moored, the vessel would have a liquefaction capacity of 0.5 mta, with storage of 18,000 m3 in an IMO Type C tank. Jones Act-compliant LNG bunker barges would load at the FLNG terminal, providing bunkers to LNG-fuelled vessels in the US Gulf Coast.
“We have less than 10 years to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the International Maritime Organisation for 2030,” adds Mr Browne. “Right now, LNG is the alternative fuel with the greatest potential and biggest following. GAC Bunker Fuels can help our customers and suppliers meet these targets by providing them with cleaner, cost-effective marine fuels like LNG. This dovetails with our own sustainability strategy, which we are pursuing with fervor and commitment.”
GAC Bunker Fuels says it is the world’s only bunkering company with an integrated ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001 certification for bunker procurement, which also covers LNG as a marine fuel.