Wilson Sons is investing in a new fleet of powerful escort tugs to service Brazil’s growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) import and export sector
The Brazilian towage services provider is constructing six tugs at its own shipyards in Guarujá, near Sao Paulo over the next three years in partnership with Damen Shipyards to assist gas carriers and tankers loading and unloading LNG and crude oil at floating and onshore terminals along Brazil’s coastline.
These newbuildings are part of Wilson Sons’ plans to expand its services in response to Brazil’s government sanctioning a new gas law in April this year.
“Today we have a fleet of 80 tugs, the largest in Brazil, spread across the Brazilian coast,” said Wilson Sons towage division commercial director Elísio Dourado. “Four are high-power escort tug models, and we are waiting for a new series of six new units of this class which started to be built this year at our shipyard in Guarujá.”
These new 25-m tugs will have a bollard pull of 80 tonnes and will comply with IMO Tier III emissions requirements.
Delivery of the first tug is scheduled for Q1 2022 and deliveries are expected to continue until 2024.
This investment comes as Brazil’s gas sector expands, with more LNG import and export facilities, LNG bunkering and small-scale projects expected to be commissioned as investment in floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units at its deepwater oil fields continues.
Wilson Sons is preparing to meet the growth in the LNG and FPSO servicing markets as it feels there will also be more opportunities in the port support sector.
In the last year, its towage division carried out more than 25 special operations, which included services to the natural gas or LNG sector.
Its tugs supported gas carriers at floating storage regasification units (FSRUs) and tankers loading crude from FPSOs. Its vessels also supported FPSO and FSRU moorings and offshore drilling rigs.
Among the customers served by Wilson Sons tugs in this segment is Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe (Celse), which operates the Port of Sergipe thermoelectric power plant.
This plant generates 1.5 GW of power from a regasification terminal, capable of storing up to 170,000 m3 of LNG and degasifying up to 21M m3 a day.
Wilson Sons’ tugboats support ship-to-ship operations to supply the terminal. “These are highly complex operations and require a high level of security, with adequate planning and training,” said Celse LNG terminal operations manager Lucas Buranelli. “Having a partner with Wilson Sons’ experience is a plus,” he said.
Mr Dourado said the Brazilian natural gas market is undergoing a major transformation, with potential for investments in more thermoelectric energy generation to replace plants run on diesel and fuel oil.
“Natural gas has a significant role in the diversification of the Brazilian energy matrix and is key to the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Mr Dourado said.
Which is why Wilson Sons is expanding its fleet of powerful escort tugs in the nation.