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LNG on the rise in Rotterdam

Published by , Senior Editor
LNG Industry,

In December 2013, something unique happened at the Gate terminal in Rotterdam. For the first time, two LNG carriers were moored at the same time in Nijlhaven. The presence of the Ben Badis and Arctic Aurora is representative of a striking recovery in LNG throughput in Rotterdam.

The past year has been important to the development of LNG in the port of Rotterdam. Not only did throughput increase by 25%, but the Municipality of Rotterdam also made it possible for LNG to be bunkered by inland barges in the port. In addition, the European Union (EU) promised two subsidies of a total of €74 million, which stress the importance of the port of Rotterdam as a major European LNG hub.


There has been a special terminal for the storage and throughput of LNG in the port of Rotterdam since 2011: the Gate terminal. The huge demand for LNG in South East Asia and Japan meant that the port of Rotterdam experienced little LNG throughput in the first six months of 2013. Throughput has grown substantially in past months, because since then it has been possible to re-export LNG at the Gate. The Port Authority expects throughput this year to end 25% higher than in 2012. The Port Authority anticipates that throughput will increase considerably in the coming years. 


From 1 July 2013, inland shipping can officially bunker LNG in the Seinehaven in the port of Rotterdam. The Municipality of Rotterdam amended the port legislation for this purpose. Rotterdam expects that this measure will give the introduction of LNG as a sustainable fuel an extra boost. Rotterdam is the first port in Europe where inland vessels can bunker LNG officially, following a successful pilot. Until the first LNG bunker station will be open in summer of 2015, the Seinehaven is the place to be for bunkering LNG in Rotterdam. Rotterdam Municipal councillor for the port Jeannette Baljeu commented: “LNG is a new, sustainable fuel for inland and sea-going vessels. In amending the legislation, we stimulate inland vessels to use LNG as a sustainable fuel when they ship cargo from Rotterdam to the hinterland.”


Greenstream, the first inland tanker to run fully on LNG, was also the first ship to bunker LNG. It is the first of two inland tankers that Shell charter for product transport on the Rhine. Apart from the cleaner fuel, the ship has other innovations in safety and energy efficiency. The ship does not have a single large engine, for instance, as do traditional inland vessels, but four small, efficient engines. This makes it possible to vary the power and achieve fuel savings. Shell has also indicated that it wants to open bunker stations on the route along the Rhine.


The Port Authority is pleased with the award of two European subsidy applications in the area of LNG. Through this, the EU supports the development of a Rotterdam LNG hub. This involves a €40 million subsidy for LNG infrastructure for the Rhine-Main-Danube area and a €34 million subsidy for the LNG breakbulk terminals in Gothenburg and Rotterdam. Together, the projects create a logistic chain for LNG; the first in Europe.

The Port Authority aims at making the port of Rotterdam the most sustainable of its kind, and sees LNG as a possibility to significantly reduce emissions caused by shipping. The subsidy ties in with the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s aim to see the market for LNG as a fuel develop to its full potential, and to open a LNG hub in Rotterdam before the end of 2015. In order to realise this, the Port Authority invests in infrastructure (including a breakbulk terminal), is closely involved in the formation of national and international policy and legislation, and invests in cooperation with relevant partners. The two subsidies also came about in close cooperation with other national and international parties.

European chain

The subsidy signifies an important impetus for the Rotterdam LNG hub, but by no means all the money is specifically for the benefit of the port of Rotterdam. The entire European logistics LNG chain benefits from it. For instance, 33 partners are involved in the LNG master plan for the Rhine-Main-Danube corridor. The project is coordinated by ‘ProDanube’. The Port Authority is the co-coordinator for the Rhine corridor. The ports of Antwerp, Strasbourg, Mannheim and Basel are also involved, as well as some private parties. The subsidy for the breakbulk terminals relates to a joint venture between the ports of Gothenburg and Rotterdam. Soon LNG can also be delivered via the breakbulk terminal to the bunker market in (North) West Europe.

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