LNG ships on transatlantic routes
24 Mar 2021 - ConferenzaGNL
Gulf of Mexico – Europe/Canada routes opened to liquefied natural gas with first LNG bunker in USA for Russian SVF operated by Shell’s new ‘Q4k’.
The first LNG bunkering of a large Aframax-class tanker in the United States took place last week off Port Canaveral (Florida). The bunkering involved the 113,000-tonne, 250-metre-long by 44-metre-wide Russian Sovcomflot (SVF in acronym) Gagarin Prospect. The ship was en route from Corpus Christi (Texas, Gulf of Mexico) to Europe and took a diversion of less than 150 nautical miles (12 hours) to refuel compared to the usual route. SVF plans to have 42 LNG-fuelled ships by 2026.
Crucially, for its first ship-to-ship bunker operation, it is using the latest tanker in use by Shell, which has a multi-year refuelling contract for some of the Russian company’s ships. The bunker, named Q LNG 4000, refuelled the Gagarin with 1,074 cubic metres of LNG in the open sea in about 11 hours. In the North Sea, the Gagarin is routinely refuelled by the Cardissa, another tanker used by Shell.
With the arrival in early March of the Q LNG 4000, known as “Q4K”, consisting of a new articulated tug and a bunker barge (with a capacity of 4000 cubic metres of LNG), Port Canaveral became the first port in the United States to offer ship-to-ship LNG refuelling. The barge was built in partnership between GNL Shell Trading Company and Q-LNG Transport at the VT Halter Marine Inc. shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Port Canaveral is primarily a cruise port, where Shell will supply Carnival Group’s LNG-powered ships engaged in cruises to the Caribbean, such as the Mardi Gras, which joined the fleet a few weeks ago and will have Port Canaveral as its base of operations. Q4K has sufficient capacity to supply two cruise ships for week-long tours and will be fuelled with LNG at Southern LNG’s regasifier storage facilities on Elba Island, near the city of Savannah, Georgia.
“This event demonstrates the rapid expansion of LNG bunkering infrastructure globally,” SVF said in its statement. LNG can now be supplied ship-to-ship on the main transatlantic tanker trade routes between the Gulf of Mexico and Europe and the east coast of Canada, which has seen traffic increase rapidly due to the growth in exports of WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude oil.”
Sergey Popravko, SCF Group CEO, said, “We are delighted that Shell has opened up LNG bunkering along this important transatlantic trade route, demonstrating that maritime LNG bunkering infrastructure is no longer limited to hubs in Northern Europe.”
Karrie Trauth, managing director of Shell Shipping & Maritime Americas, said, “As part of Shell’s goal to be an emissions-free energy business by 2050, keeping pace with society, we are working with customers in every sector to help them decarbonise. LNG is the best choice for new builds today to help slow the rate of global greenhouse gas emissions. I am delighted to see the first LNG-fuelled Aframax tanker in the US, as this is a milestone for the entire industry.”