Pavilion Energy

World’s largest LNG bunkering vessel refuels first VLCC in milestone operation

The world’s largest LNG bunkering ship Hai Yang Shi You 301  (Offshore Oil 301) has completed its first ship-to-ship bunkering operation involving a very large crude carrier (VLCC) at the anchorage of Guangzhou Port.

Image credit Pavilion Energy

The 8.5-hour operation saw Offshore Oil 301 provide the 320,000-ton dual-fuel tanker Maran Dione with approximately 6,500 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas.

MTM, the oil tanker shipping arm of the Angelicoussis Group, recently welcomed this vessel as the fourth and newest DF VLCC in its fleet.

The operation was the inaugural ship-to-ship (STS) LNG bunkering carried out by Pavilion Energy and CNOOC Gas and Power Group.

Pavilion Energy and CNOOC signed a Heads of Agreement in November last year together with another partner, Gasum, to strengthen the global LNG bunker supply network for customers. It marks Pavilion Energy’s first foray in supplying LNG bunkering solutions overseas and underscores its LNG bunkering capability and readiness to offer similar services to various global ports through its partner networks. It is also CNOOC’s first delivery to an LNG-powered VLCC at an anchorage in Chinese waters.

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More significantly, the success of this operation potentially opens doors for more bulk carriers and product tankers to conduct LNG bunkering operations at the anchorage in Chinese ports.

“Pavilion Energy is pleased to have CNOOC as a strong and capable partner to support Angelicoussis Group in their adoption of LNG as a cleaner fuel of choice for its vessels. This latest operation further solidifies our presence as a one-stop LNG bunkering solutions partner to serve various global shipping ports as we continue to expand our global LNG bunkering footprint and support the shipping industry’s transition to cleaner marine fuels,” Alan Heng, Group CEO of Pavilion Energy, said. 

“Angelicoussis Group is committed to sustainability and engages in cross-industry collaborations, with the aim of transitioning to zero-carbon operations. We are delighted to be part of this pioneering moment for China with two solid partners in the energy sector, CNOOC and Pavilion Energy, and actively contribute to the decarbonisation of our fleet,” Mark Pearson, Managing Director of Maran Tankers, said.

“As part of our efforts on energy efficiency, we also continue our ambitious fleet renewal program, with 8 DF Suezmaxes currently on order, in addition to the 4 DF VLCCs we received this year.”

The refueling allows the tanker to achieve uninterrupted voyages spanning more than 10,000 nautical miles, covering the round-trip journey from Guangzhou to Europe.

The operation marks China’s debut in anchorage bunkering for very large oil tankers, a process that demands a more complex operational environment and heightened safety management requirements when compared to traditional dock bunkering.

Anchorage bunkering can be more challenging as ships are subject to tidal and weather conditions, requiring careful coordination and maneuvering between the bunkering vessel and the ship being fueled.

 The 30,000 cbm Offshore Oil 301 is the first LNG transportation and bunkering ship independently designed, built, and operated by China.

The bunkering vessel was delivered to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) in November 2022 following a conversion project at China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s subsidiary Guangzhou Shipbuilding International (GSI). The vessel has been described as the world’s largest LNG bunker vessel based on its capacity.

CNOOC is China’s largest and the world’s second-largest LNG importer. The company has been investing heavily in the development of the LNG bunkering infrastructure and now disposes of three international LNG bunkering centers and thirteen ship LNG refueling stations.

Its first LNG bunkering operation was completed in February this year when Offshore Oil 301) refueled CMA CGM’s 23,000TEU dual-fuel container ship CMA CGM Concorde at Yantian Port, Shenzhen.

In recent years, the global market for LNG-powered transport ships has seen rapid growth in response to the need for emission reduction in the shipping industry. The appeal of LNG lies in its status as a low-carbon fossil fuel, enabling zero emissions of sulfur oxides, a 90% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions, and a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to traditional marine fuel oil.

Additionally, it offers a considerable 30% reduction in annual fuel costs, making it a highly sought-after solution, particularly for large-capacity and long-distance international ocean-going vessels. Consequently, the demand for liquefied natural gas bunkering for such ships has fueled the vibrant development of the LNG ship bunkering industry on a global scale.

With global LNG demand predicted to exceed 10 million tons by 2025 and 30-45 million tons by 2030, China is accelerating the construction of international ship LNG filling centers in key ports like Tianjin, Xiamen, and Hainan during the “14th Five-Year Plan.”

These efforts are aimed at enhancing the inland river LNG filling chain and promoting regional LNG fuel applications.