Riviera conference explores the challenges and opportunities of growing the LNG bunkering infrastructure in the Americas to meet the expanding fleet of LNG-fuelled ships
Many of the key players in the North American LNG bunkering and refuelling market will be on hand to discuss the technical, operational and regulatory challenges facing the industry at Riviera’s LNG Bunkering and Refuelling, Americas conference, 18-19 February 2021.
High on the agenda will be the region’s growing LNG bunker vessel fleet. Shipowners operating dual-fuel, LNG-powered ships will find more options for bunkering their vessels when they call at ports in North America, following the delivery of the LNG supply and bunker articulated tug barge (ATB) Q-LNG 4000 to owner Q-LNG Transport. Under long-term charter to Shell North America LNG, Q-LNG 4000 performed its first ship-to-ship transfer in Jacksonville, Florida, refueling the Liberian-flagged dual-fuel, pure car truck carrier (PCTC) SIEM Aristotle in January. The PCTC was on its maiden voyage from Emsden, Germany to North America.
At 4,000 m3 capacity, Q-4000 is significantly larger than Clean Jacksonville, the 2,200-m3 LNG bunker barge based in Jacksonville. Both are unique vessels and significant components of the growing LNG bunkering infrastructure in the Sunshine State, the US and Canada to support domestic and international shipowners that use LNG as fuel.
“Most of the shipowners we have spoken to who are looking at newbuilds are considering LNG-fuelled vessels as their preferred option to support their business case and environmental credentials,” a Shell spokesperson told LNG Shipping & Terminals.
As of November 2020, there were 230 LNG vessels on order and 198 in service according to Clarksons data. “We are witnessing an increase in the number of dual-fuel tankers being ordered and considered,” said Shell. “For tankers, the start-up of LNG bunkering in the Gulf of Mexico, alongside Singapore and Rotterdam, means almost all of the long-haul tanker demand can be met. LNG infrastructure is growing at a rapid pace to support the expected demand growth for LNG as a fuel and to support shipowners with a greater level of flexibility for their routes. LNG bunker vessel capacity grew threefold between 2019 and 2020,” said the source.
“Shell wants to double its LNG bunkering network by the mid-2020s”
LNG figures strongly into Shell’s plans in the years ahead, as it reshapes its energy portfolio to support the global transition to clean energy. “Shell has a strategic plan to develop a global LNG bunkering network complementing other developments in Asia, Northern Europe and the western Mediterranean,” said the Shell spokesperson. “It is aiming to double its LNG bunkering network by the mid-2020s, to around 15 major ports on the key international trading routes. We expect to further grow the network in the key locations needed to provide the key market segments flexibility in their fueling options.”
Shell expects to take delivery of 16 dual-fuel LNG carriers, 10 LNG dual-fuel Aframax crude oil tankers, and four new LNG dual-fuel oil products tankers from 2021.
In the container sector, Seaspan has just ordered 10 dual-fuel, LNG-powered containerships, which will be chartered to Zim International for US east coast to Asia service. The 15,000-TEU box ships will start delivering in H1 2023. This will underpin further development of LNG bunkering on the US east coast.
Sunshine State: LNG bunkering hub
Work is progressing on Clean Canaveral – which will be the largest LNG bunker supply vessel by capacity in the US – at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The 5,400-m3 capacity LNG ATB will join Polaris New Energy’s fleet in Q4 2021. Polaris New Energy is the marine logistics arm of NorthStar Midstream, which – along with Pivotal LNG – is expanding JAX LNG, the small-scale LNG facility that will provide the chilled cargo to Clean Canaveral.
Crowley’s two dual-fuel LNG-powered conro vessels have been supported since they went into service between Jacksonville and San Juan by Eagle LNG’s Talleyrand Bunkering Station. It marked its 100th LNG bunkering operation for the two vessels in August 2020, and the first LNG bunkering of an international-flagged vessel, Fure Ven, in the US in September. A pioneer in small-scale LNG and bunkering in the US, Eagle LNG has its sights set on further expansion with the Jacksonville LNG Export facility.
Florida is not the only area where LNG is readily available as a fuel in the US. Harvey Gulf International Marine’s LNG bunkering facility in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, has been supporting the OSV owner’s dual-fuel, LNG-powered platform supply vessels for years.
A recent report by SEA/LNG detailed the growing global LNG supply infrastructure. The accompanying graphic shows LNG bunkering facilities in operation and in development, with a heavy concentration in Europe.
Bunkering north of the border
North of the border in Canada, LNG for bunkering is available by truck in the Port of Montreal, and – for the first time last year – at Port Hamilton in Ontario on the Great Lakes.
On the west coast in Vancouver, FortisBC supplies LNG by truck from its Tilbury LNG facility for LNG-fuelled ferries owned by BC Ferries and Seaspan.
“FortisBC is actively looking for opportunities to provide LNG from our Tilbury facility as a low-cost, lower-carbon fuel for the marine sector, and for overseas customers looking to displace coal, oil or wood for fuel,” says FortisBC spokesperson Scott Neufeld. “Tilbury is powered by renewable hydroelectricity which lowers the carbon intensity of our LNG compared to other facilities. Tilbury also plays an important role in storing a backup supply of energy for our gas utility customers.”
Adds Mr Neufeld: “There are also a number of other customers interested in our LNG as a marine fuel and we are working with partners like Seaspan and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to establish Vancouver as an LNG refuelling hub. A key component of our expansion plans is a marine jetty proposed to be built next to our facility to enable ship-to-ship LNG refuelling. The jetty is being proposed by a partnership to be owned by affiliates of Fortis and Seaspan. If the environmental assessment is approved, construction of the jetty could begin later this year.”
FortisBC is in a phased expansion of the small-scale Tilbury LNG that will significantly increase its storage and production capacity to meet the rising demand for LNG as a fuel. FortisBC is investing US$14.6M on an expansion of Tilbury LNG’s truck loading capacity “to better serve marine, truck transport and overseas customers,” says Mr Neufeld.
Among those overseas customers is China, which has been importing LNG via ISO container from Tilbury LNG since 2017.
Plans are moving forward for Canada’s first LNG ATB. Cryopeak LNG anticipates moving towards FID on the LNG bunker barge by the end of 2021, with the start of operations in 2023, delivering LNG as a fuel to shipping companies calling at ports on the west coast.
South of Vancouver in the Port of Tacoma, the first LNG bunkering facility on the US west coast will be ready to open in Q2 2021. Tacoma LNG will be a multi-use facility, providing LNG for Puget LNG’s commercial customers, and the necessary natural gas reserves for PSE’s utility customers. Its main maritime consumers will be TOTE Maritime Alaska’s dual-fuel, LNG-fuelled Orca-class roro vessels, which operate weekly between Tacoma and Alaska.
You can find out more and register for Riviera’s LNG Bunkering & Refuelling Conference, Americas, 18-19 February 2021 here.