Photo: Illustration; Image credit Titan Clean Fuel

185 global ports can bunker LNG

Ports around the world are ramping up their efforts to develop LNG bunkering infrastructure as demand for LNG-fuelled ships hits new highs.

Over the past year, 44 global ports have joined the club of global ports able to provide LNG bunkering. Namely, according to the data from Clarksons, in January 2022, LNG bunkering was available at 141 ports worldwide. Today, this number has increased to 185 ports worldwide, with a further 50 facilities planned by 2025.

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Insights from the shipbroker show that 61% of tonnage ordered last year (35% by number) was alternatively fuelled. Over half of tonnage ordered (397 orders, 36.7m GT) was LNG dual fuel, and 1.4% of orders were LNG “ready” (31 orders).

Based only on existing orders, DNV forecasts the number of LNG-fuelled ships will reach 876 by the end of this decade.

However, if current growth trends continue, LNG bunkering coalition SEA LNG believes the market can expect to see 2-4,000 LNG-fuelled ships in operation by 2030.

By the end of 2022, there were 40 LNG bunker vessels operating in northern Europe, the Mediterranean, United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Brazil, and Australia. In addition, 2022 saw commercial ship-to-ship bunkering of LNG taking place for the first time in China, the Caribbean, and Russia.

Namely, China welcomed its first seagoing LNG bunkering vessel last year. The 30,000 cbm Hai Yang Shi You 301, described as the world’s largest LNG bunker vessel, was officially put into operation by China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s subsidiary Guangzhou Shipbuilding International following a conversion project for the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

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France’s 1st LNG bunker vessel Ga Vitality came online in 2022 from the port of Mrseilles-Fos. The vessel is TotalEnergies’ second collaboration with Japanese shipowner MOL and Chinese shipbuilder Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding. 

In March 2022, the Clean Canaveral LNG bunker barge completed its inaugural bunkering in Jacksonville, Florida, in the first barge-to-ship cool down operation performed in the U.S. The vessel is owned by Polaris New Energy, a subsidiary of Seaside LNG Holding.

During the same month, Korea’s shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard delivered K Lotus, an 18,000 cbm LNG bunkering vessel, to Korea Line. The energy giant Shell chartered the K Lotus to operate in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

A number of LNG bunkering ships are under construction, including two at Fincantieri Shipyard, one for Polaris New Energy LLC (5,500 cbm) and another for Crowley (12,000 cbm) (charter to Shell).

Knutsen has partnered with Scale Gas on a 5,000 cbm newbuild, Haugesund Knutsen, which will operate from the Port of Barcelona on charter to Shell. The vessel was delivered earlier this month.

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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. concluded a contract with KEYS Bunkering West Japan Co. for the construction of an LNG bunker vessel, the first to operate in western Japan. The vessel will be built at MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works, with handover scheduled for March 2024.

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SEA LNG explained that LNG offers a credible pathway toward decarbonization of shipping as existing infrastructure can transport, store and deliver carbon-neutral bio-LNG and renewable synthetic LNG (e-LNG). These fuels can also be used as a drop-in fuel for LNG-fuelled vessels or blended with fossil LNG without any additional investment.

“Many advocates of alternative fuels suggest that the shipping industry will be able to move in a single step from fossil to zero-emission, renewable fuels. This is extremely unrealistic as the fuels and infrastructure needed to support them are likely to take many years to scale. Decarbonisation is much more likely to take place incrementally as the carbon intensity of fuels are gradually reduced through the addition of low and zero-emission drop-ins,” SEA LNG said.

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