Privately held DNG Energy will use a floating storage unit, seagoing LNG transport barge and a small-scale LNG carrier to begin LNG bunkering and break-bulk operations at Algoa Port in South Africa in Q2 2020
DNG Energy founder and chief executive Aldworth Mbalati told LNG World Shipping that the company has identified a floating storage unit (FSU) with a capacity of 148,000 m3 and will purchase an existing small-scale vessel with a capacity of 10,000 m3 that also has bunkering capability to service marine customers.
A third element of the operation is a newbuild seagoing LNG barge that can transport 380 ISO containers of LNG. In 2018, DNG Energy contracted Southern African Shipyards to construct the unique vessel.
Mr Mbalati said the barge will be used to transport LNG where ISO containers can be moved by rail or truck to industrial and mining customers inland over a wide region. The idea is to replace more carbon-intensive fuels such as diesel with LNG to help reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have augmented our bunker operations with onshore customers to ensure we are financially robust from day one. This will underpin our bunkering business,” he explained.
Designed by Louisiana-based naval architectural firm Downey Engineering, the LNG transport barge DNG Genesis will have an overall length of 148.6 m, beam of 33.6 m, depth of 10 m and design draught of 3.75 m, with a full load capacity of 380 ISO containers in four tiers.
A steel cutting ceremony for the barge was held at Southern African Shipyards in Durban, South Africa, in November 2018 and delivery will be in 2020.
“I believe you should leave the planet a little better for the next generation in order to grow it,” said Mr Mbalati. “Natural gas is the most relevant fuel in terms of a transition to a carbon-free society. It has a huge role to play,” added Mr Mbalati. He said natural gas was a “catalyst to powering Africa” and “reducing emissions in the marine world.”
Mr Mbalati believes shipping faces significant challenges in meeting IMO’s 2020 global sulphur regulations and the ambitious decarbonisation and wider sustainability targets towards 2050.
He sees DNG Energy’s investment in Algoa Bay as a means to improving access to LNG bunkers for commercial vessels on one of the world’s most travelled trading routes, which sees 56,000 vessels transit the region annually.
“As a major global maritime hub, developing LNG bunkering infrastructure in Algoa Bay will support the growth of LNG-fuelled shipping on multiple trade routes,” he said, and “help meet Africa’s sustainability goals.”
Mr Mbalati said DNG Energy would source its LNG from the US, though he did not specify who would provide it. DNG Energy is reportedly seeking charter vessels to bring LNG from the US Gulf coast to South Africa. “We are not yet a portfolio player in LNG,” he said, “but in time we will be.”
DNG Energy is making other significant investments in LNG infrastructure in Africa, with an LNG port terminal in Mabuto, the capital of Mozambique and a reload terminal to optimise the LNG trade. The investments are part of DNG Energy’s wider LNG development strategy and five-year initiative launched in 2015, under which the company is investing more than US$5Bn by 2020 in infrastructure programmes across South Africa, Nigeria and Mozambique.
“We are committed to LNG for the long haul,” said Mr Mbalati.