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LNG bunkering in North America: A success story

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LNG Industry,

Over the last decade, LNG as a marine fuel has gained significant traction in North America as a cleaner alternative to conventional marine fuels like heavy fuel oil. This development is driven by stringent environmental regulations, the availability of gas, and its cost effectiveness supporting the maritime industry’s shift towards sustainability.

Infrastructure development

As demand has grown, LNG bunkering infrastructure has expanded significantly in key North American ports. Substantial investments have been made in the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach to establish LNG bunkering facilities to cater to the growing demand for LNG-powered vessels in the region. For example, the port’s LNG bunkering terminal, operated by a joint venture between Pivotal LNG and Southern California Gas Company, boasts a capacity of up to 540 000 gal. of LNG storage and can accommodate both ship-to-ship and truck-to-ship bunkering operations. Additionally, the port has implemented shore-to-ship power capabilities to further reduce emissions during vessel berthing.

In the Port of Houston, infrastructure development projects have been undertaken to facilitate LNG bunkering operations, leveraging the region’s access to abundant natural gas resources. Houston’s LNG bunkering terminal, managed by Eagle LNG Partners, features storage tanks with a total capacity exceeding 1 million gal. of LNG, enabling efficient bunkering services for a variety of vessel types, including container ships, tankers, and offshore support vessels.

The Port of Vancouver’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has spurred the development of LNG bunkering infrastructure to support the transition to cleaner maritime fuels. As an example, the Tilbury LNG facility, operated by FortisBC, serves as a key LNG bunkering hub in the region, offering truck-to-ship bunkering services with a capacity of approximately 100 000 gal./d of LNG.

The facility also provides storage capacity for over 3.5 million gal. of LNG, ensuring reliable fuel supply for vessels operating along the West Coast. In addition to bunkering infrastructure, small scale LNG facilities, such as the Woodfibre LNG project, contribute to the region’s LNG supply chain by providing liquefaction and export capabilities for LNG distribution to domestic and international markets.

The Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT) has been a pioneer in LNG bunkering in North America. JAXPORT established LNG bunkering facilities and partnered with TOTE Maritime, which operates LNG-powered vessels between Florida and Puerto Rico. LNG bunkering terminals, truck-to-ship bunkering facilities, and vessel-to-vessel bunkering capabilities have been established to accommodate various bunker-ing scenarios and vessel types, with capacities tailored to meet the specific needs of port operators, shipping companies, LNG suppliers, and downstream consumers. These integrated infrastructure networks support the growth of LNG as a cleaner and more sustainable marine fuel solution, enhancing the competitiveness and resilience of North America’s maritime industry in the global market.

This development has been the result of extensive industry collaboration. Public-private partnerships have played a pivotal role in driving the development of LNG bunkering infrastructure in North America. The collaboration between government agencies, port authorities, LNG suppliers, shipping companies, and technology providers has facilitated the planning, funding, and implementation of infrastructure projects.

The collaboration between Total Energies and the Port of Houston to develop North America’s largest LNG bunkering facility is a good example of this collaboration. Industry stakeholders have worked together to address challenges such as investment barriers, regulatory compliance, and infrastructure interoperability.

Growth drivers

LNG as a marine fuel has proven particularly popular in the US because of the extension of the International Maritime Organization’s Emission Control Area (ECA) regulation to the coastline of North America. For vessels trading in the ECA and to and from local international ports, LNG as fuel simplifies compliance and operational logistics. In addition to regulatory drivers, the particular shipping trades and the availability of LNG have driven expansion of bunkering of LNG as a marine fuel in North America. Indeed, for vessels operating on long haul and liner/fixed schedule routes, LNG is the most cost effective and available transitional fuel with reliable technology to meet future reductions in maritime greenhouse gas emissions.


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US LNG news LNG bunkering news Natural gas news