Axpo hires LNG bunker ship which could also transport ammonia in future

Swiss renewable energy producer Axpo has inked a ten-year charter deal for a liqufied natural gas (LNG) bunkering vessel, which could also transport bio-LNG and ammonia.

As informed, the agreement was signed with Italy’s Gas and Heat SpA and the San Giorgio del Porto shipyard, both leaders in cryogenic storage and vessel conversions. The vessel will be built in the San Giorgio’s shipyard in Piombino, Italy, with a capacity of up to 7,500 cubic metres. 

The ship is expected to begin operations in 2025. In the future, it could transport bio-LNG and ammonia. According to an analysis of the green LNG bunkering market published by SEA-LNG, bio-LNG is available in almost seventy ports worldwide, including in Singapore, Rotterdam, and the US east coast.

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The project will be implemented in Italy and will see – for the first time in Europe – the deployment of an innovative and sustainable technology for continuous ship-to-truck operations, according to the company.

Active off the coast of Naples, the vessel will provide ship-to-ship and ship-to-truck services. The former, also known as ship-to-ship bunkering, is the transfer of bunker fuel used by the receiving vessel (in this case, LNG) from one ship to another and is typically carried for ocean-going vessels.

The latter entails the transfer of LNG to tanker trucks onshore, which then transport and distribute the LNG by road to final users.

The Italian vessel will feature a flexible multi-truck bunkering skid mounted onboard to enable the loading of several trucks simultaneously, significantly reducing bunkering time.

“The demand for sustainable solutions in the maritime industry continues to increase significantly, in line with the International Maritime Organisation strategy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. With the industry expected to achieve a reduction of up to 40% in the carbon intensity of shipping by 2030, the LNG bunkering solution will provide a cleaner marine fuel in the mid-term and beyond,’ Axpo Head of Continental Europe Merchant Trading Marco Saalfrank said.

“Together with Axpo Italia, we are pleased to be part of an important initiative that will help enable the transition to carbon neutrality and, for the first time in Europe, employ this new bunkering technology to supply markets with cleaner fuel,” Axpo Small Scale LNG Manager Daniele Corti added.

LNG bunkering vessels support the increasing use of LNG as a marine fuel, which plays an important role in decarbonisation and the transition to a more sustainable energy mix.

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The flagship project was set up in collaboration with the Italian government’s infrastructure and transport ministry, MIT, and the Central Tyrrhenian Sea and Naples port authorities.