LNG Bunkering in the US: Beginning of a new era

Aditya Aggarwal's picture
Aditya Aggarwal, Director, ABS Global Gas Solutions
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With more ship owners and operators committing to the cleaner-burning LNG fuel over traditional marine fuels, investments in the US are focusing on providing the desired LNG bunkering infrastructure.

With five vessels in service, 10 on order and many others in the pipeline globally, the LNG bunkering market is rapidly developing momentum and the market players in the US are joining the movement. In November 2017, Shell Trading (US) Company announced that they had reached a long-term charter agreement with Q-LNG Transport, LLC for a 4,000 cubic meters capacity LNG bunker barge. This was another step towards developing the desired LNG value chain to support greener maritime shipping in the U.S. This announcement brought the total count of Jones Act LNG bunker barges to two. ABS has the distinction of classing both these LNG bunker barges.

This newest LNG Articulated Tug Barge (ATB), will be owned and constructed by Q-LNG while operations will be handled by New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf International Marine. The barge will be chartered by Shell, and will supply LNG fuel to vessels across the Southeast Coast of the US, including Carnival Cruise ships in Florida that are the anchor customers.

The barge includes a Type-C cargo containment system and will be designed to be manoeuvrable to allow efficient LNG bunker delivery to a range of receiving vessels. VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi began construction of the LNG barge, in early 2018. The barge is expected to in-service by January 2020.

ABS and Harvey Gulf also worked together on the  successful delivery of five U.S. based LNG-powered Offshore Supply Vessels (OSV), with a sixth on order, demonstrating leadership in the development of LNG as marine fuel in the U.S. Harvey Energy, the first vessel in North America to be powered by LNG was delivered in February 2015.

ABS is the class of choice for North America’s first LNG bunker barge with membrane containment that was ordered in the U.S. in 2015 and will be stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. Clean Jacksonville, owned by TOTE Maritime and managed by Clean Marine Energy LLC, will be used for bunkering TOTE’s two 3,100-TEU, Marlin-class containership that are currently in operation between the US and Puerto Rico. The barge includes a 2,200 cubic meters GTT Mark III Flex Cargo Containment System and is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2018.

To support the increased global demand for LNG bunkering vessels and provide the industry with reliable guidance that enables innovative technologies to support the sector, ABS published the Guide for LNG Bunkering in 2017. This Guide has been developed to outline the requirements for the design, construction, and survey of liquefied gas carriers and barges fitted with dedicated LNG transfer arrangements and intended to operate in regular LNG bunkering service. The objective of this Guide is to provide criteria to minimize risks to the vessel, crew and the environment.

With International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) enactment of the 0.5 per cent global sulphur cap that goes into effect on 1 January 2020, LNG as Marine Fuel is establishing itself as a promising option. Nevertheless, investment in assets in newer markets is always a potential risk for ship owners and ABS is proud to be the trusted advisor to support the industry.

Would like to hear more on the recent developments surrounding LNG Bunkering? Book your delegate place today for Gastech 2018 and hear key industry players discussing the key topic in this year's Technical Conference. 

Image courtesy of Q-LNG Transport