Sovcomflot and Shell have broken new ground, completing the first fuelling of an Aframax using LNG in the United States
Sovcomflot’s Gagarin Prospect received 1,075 cubic metres of marine LNG from the Shell NA LNG LLC chartered Q-LNG 4000 outside the Port of Canaveral, Florida, successfully completing the first ever ship-to-ship LNG fuelling of a large capacity Aframax tanker in the US.
The tanker, on long-term charter to Shell, was en-route from Corpus Christi, Texas, in the US, to Europe, when the groundbreaking fuelling took place. The deviation from the vessel’s usual route amounted to less than 150 nautical miles (0.5 days) and the bunkering time was 11 hours.
With the fuelling first, LNG can now be supplied via ship-to-ship transfer on the principal transatlantic tanker trade routes between Europe and the US Gulf, and the US Gulf and East Coast Canada, which has seen traffic increasing rapidly as a result of the growth in West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude exports from the US Gulf.
Gagarin Prospect is the lead vessel in SCF Group’s pioneering series of dual-fuelled “Green Funnel” Aframax tankers, delivered in 2018/2019, and one of two in the series on long-term time charter to Shell.
The continued expansion of LNG fuelling in the United States facilitates the growing use of vessels able to utilise LNG in their main engines, auxiliaries and boilers, reducing emissions footprints for tankers, compared with those using liquid fossil fuels.
SCF’s technical team estimate reductions in CO2 emissions of 24 per cent, SOx emissions reduced by 100 per cent and NOx emissions reduced by 97 per cent when completing the Gagarin Prospect voyage using LNG fuel, and including discharge operations.
Improved fuel economy from using LNG as a main fuel amounts to 10-12 per cent compared to conventional fuels, according to the figures.
SCF Group’s chief operating officer Sergey Popravko, said: “This is another important milestone highlighting the progress of the сombined efforts of Shell and Sovcomflot to reduce the environmental impact of energy shipping. Our work started back in 2018, with the first marine LNG fuelling operation of Gagarin Prospect in the Port of Rotterdam,” he said.
“We are pleased that Shell has opened up LNG fuelling along this important transatlantic trade route, demonstrating that marine LNG fuelling infrastructure is no longer limited to hubs in Northern Europe and Singapore, Mr Popravko said. He added “It is symbolic that the bunkering took place at the Port of Canaveral, being the space hub of the United States of America, involving the Russian tanker Gagarin Prospect named after Planet Earth’s first cosmonaut.”
Shell Shipping & Maritime Americas’ general manager Karrie Trauth, said: “As part of Shell’s target to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society, we are working with customers across every sector to help them decarbonise. LNG is the choice today for new builds to help slow the rate of global greenhouse gas emissions while we work hard at developing zero-emissions fuels. I am pleased to see the first Aframax tanker fuelled with LNG in the United States as this is an important milestone for the industry.”