With LNG as fuel set to grow after 2020, southeast Asia’s first LNG bunker vessels will enter service over the next two years
As the clock winds down towards the 1 January 2020 implementation of IMO’s 0.50% sulphur cap, Singapore and Malaysia are jockeying to be southeast Asia’s regional LNG bunkering hub. Both countries are anticipating a major uptake in LNG as a marine fuel as more ship operators shift towards alternative fuels to comply with the stricter emissions regulations.
As tracked by class society DNV GL, there are 170 LNG-fuelled vessels in operation, with another 184 under construction and 141 ‘LNG-ready’ ships – vessels designed to be converted to burn LNG. Over the next decade the global LNG bunker market will grow more than eightfold, from an estimated 3 mta in 2020 to 25 mta by 2030, according to data cited by the International Gas Union.
Malaysia’s state-run energy giant Petronas is backing the government’s push to become an LNG bunkering hub. In collaboration with MISC Bhd, Petronas inked a time-charter agreement with Avenir LNG for a 7,500-m3 LNG bunker vessel (LNGBV) newbuild.
“Petronas is always on the lookout to adopt new technologies through smart partnerships and promote LNG as a cleaner fuel and the fuel of choice for the marine industry,” says Petronas vice president of LNG marketing and trading and PLSB chief executive Ahmad Adly Alias.
Avenir LNG (a joint venture of Stolt-Nielsen, Höegh LNG and Golar LNG) is building four such LNGBVs, two with Keppel Singmarine and two with Nantong CIMC Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering Co.
Under the charter agreement, the LNGBV will bunker LNG-fuelled vessels across Malaysia and serve small-scale terminals in the region.
Petronas has set up infrastructure for LNG bunkering services at Pengerang, Johor and Sungai Udang, Melaka.
To cater to “mid-sized cargo requirements” and “smaller parcels of LNG” Petronas began conducting breakbulk LNG ship-to-ship (STS) transfers in 2018, says Petronas executive vice president and chief executive of gas and new energy Adif Zulkifli. In October, MISC’s 157,000-m3 Seri Bijaksana conducted an LNG breakbulk STS transfer at Brunei Bay, port of Sabah, transferring 80,000 m3 of LNG to Teekay’s Polar Spirit and 62,000 m3 to LNG Shipping’s Lerici. Following the transfers, the LNG carriers offloaded their cargoes at two separate import terminals in China.
Singapore prepares for post-2020 move to LNG
As one of the world’s busiest shipping hubs, Singapore has the upper hand in the LNG bunkering hub race. It sold 49.8M tonnes of traditional bunker fuel in 2018. In anticipation of the shift to alternative fuels post-2020, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) initiated an LNG bunker pilot programme in 2017, authorising Pavilion Energy and FueLNG Pte Ltd to supply LNG bunkering in the port.
Both FueLNG (a joint venture of Shell Eastern Petroleum and Keppel Offshore & Marine) and Pavilion Energy received grants of US$2.25M from the MPA to support the construction of an LNG bunker vessel.
Pavilion Energy is chartering a 12,000-m3 LNG bunkering vessel being built at Sembcorp Marine by Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines. Shipmanagement will be handled jointly by MOL and Singapore’s Sinanju Tankers Pte Ltd. The vessel will be delivered in Q1 2021.
Under a deal signed in June 2018, Pavilion Energy and Total will use the LNGBV to jointly serve their customers in the port.
Sembcorp Marine subsidiary LMG Marin is designing the LNGBV with two GTT Mark III membrane cargo tanks. South Korea’s Gas Entec Co Ltd has reportedly secured a contract from Sembcorp Marine for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the LNGBV’s cargo-handling system.
FueLNG has ordered a 7,500-m3 vessel that will be Singapore’s and southeast Asia’s first LNGBV. Set for delivery in Q3 2020, the LNGBV will be based on an MTD 7500U LNG design, developed by Keppel O&M’s ship design arm, Marine Technology Development (MTD). Construction is underway at Keppel Singmarine’s yard in Nantong.