The LNG bunker and supply ATB vessel refuels its first ship, underpinning longhaul LNG-fuelled shipping to US east coast ports
A key piece of the LNG bunkering puzzle in the US southeast is now in place, following the delivery of the world’s first LNG supply articulated tug barge (ATB) unit, Q-LNG 4000.
Under long-term charter to Shell North America LNG, Q-LNG 4000 performed its first ship-to-ship (STS) transfer in Jacksonville, Florida, refuelling dual-fuel, pure car truck carrier (PCTC) SIEM Aristotle on its maiden voyage between Emden, Germany and North America.
For the voyage to the US, SIEM Aristotle bunkered some 800 tonnes of LNG and loaded 4,800 cars for North America. Under charter to the Volkswagen Group, Liberia-flagged SIEM Aristotle and its sister SIEM Confucius are super-eco, LNG-powered PCTCs, equipped with 12,600-kW dual-fuel marine engines with direct injection and exhaust gas after treatment from MAN Energy Solutions. Each ship has two 1,800-m3 fuel tanks, allowing them to cover the entire distance with the fuel stored in Europe.
Other customers of Q-LNG 4000 will be Carnival’s LNG-powered cruise ships, once the Covid-related operational pause on sailing from the US is lifted. Carnival has set a launch date of 29 May for LNG-powered Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral. Shell North America LNG signed a long-term supply agreement with Carnival in 2017.
“Between the infrastructure Shell has throughout the operating area of Q-LNG 4000 and the vessel’s built-in design flexibility, we are able to service a wide range of customers,” says a Shell spokesperson. Q-LNG 4000 will primarily operate along the US southeast coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
While it is expected to source LNG at the Elba Island terminal, Q-LNG 4000 is designed to load at all US LNG terminals and any SIGTTO-compliant terminal, and conduct STS transfers using KLAW bunkering technology.
Shell has a long-term charter for Q-LNG 4000 with owner and operator Q-LNG Transport. Commenting on the delivery of Q-LNG 4000, Q-LNG chief executive Shane Guidry says, “All of my companies, including Q-LNG, are focused on, and will continue to do our part to design, build and operate vessels that will assist with the quest to decarbonise.” The founder of Q-LNG, Mr Guidry is the chief executive of Harvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM), which is investing in ‘tri-fuel’ OSVs, and established the first LNG bunkering station in the Port of Fourchon, Louisiana.
Built to ABS class by Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Q-LNG 4000 is composed of two vessels; an LNG bunker barge with a capacity of 4,000 m3, and an ocean tug, Q-Ocean Service, which fits in a notch in the stern of the barge and is connected via a coupling system.
Seattle naval architect Jensen Maritime designed Q-Ocean Service, with an overall length of 39 m, beam of 12.8 m and depth of 6.4 m. Waller Marine, Houston, designed Q-4000, with an overall length of 98.8 m, beam of 19.5 m and depth of 9.9 m.
Q-Ocean Service’s propulsion is supplied by two EPA Tier 4 and IMO Tier III-compliant Wabtec 6L250 MDC diesel engines that produce 1,900 kW each and drive Wärtsilä Z-drives.
Q-4000 could well have some ‘bigger’ sisters soon. Q-LNG has gained design basis acceptance for two larger variants, with capacities of 5,400 m3 and 8,000 m3, from the US Coast Guard.
Progress at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding is well underway on Clean Canaveral, a 5,400-m3 ATB LNG bunkering vessel being built for Polaris New Energy for operation in the Port Canaveral and Miami area by the end of 2021. PNE will source LNG from the JAX LNG terminal in Jacksonville, which is being developed by NorthStar Midstream in partnership with Pivotal LNG. PNE holds an option to build two more LNG bunker barges.
Since 2018, Foss Maritime has operated 2,200-m3 LNG bunker barge Clean Jacksonville, supporting TOTE’s LNG-fuelled 3,100-TEU container ships that operate out of the Port of Jacksonville.