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The outlook for LNG bunkering: Part Two

LNG Industry,

LNG bunkering panorama in North Europe

Norway has historically been involved in LNG bunker transfers to ships and currently operates the largest small scale LNG production and distribution network with a worldwide production of up to 500 000 tpy of LNG. In addition to Europe’s first LNG export terminal in Hammerfest, which has been operated since 2007 by Statoil, there are around 47 different small scale LNG terminals or storage facilities.

Small scale LNG production and regasification facilities in Norway that facilitate the distribution of LNG to bunkering stations, ships or trucks include those located at Tjeldbergodden, Kollsnes, Karmøy, Øra and Risavika, with Statoil, Skangass and Shell (Gasnor) being the main developers.

In particular, the Risavika plant south of Stavanger is the newest liquefaction facility in Norway, and possibly the most important in terms of bunkering because of its storage capacity (30 000 m3). Small scale LNG carriers use this facility with great regularity and some LNG bunkering operations have already been carried out.

Storage and bunkering stations already in operation include Naturgass Møre in Alesund, Sunndalsøra (Gasnor-Shell), Høyanger, Mosjøen, Ågotness Coast Centre Base (CCB), Halhjem terminal, and Florø (Saga Fjordbase). Many of these have already been used for truck-to-ship or shore-to-ship LNG bunker operations. In addition, Skangass secured a permit early in 2014 to build a dedicated LNG bunkering station in Risavika for the Fjord Line ferries operated between Stavanger, Bergen and Hirtshals (Denmark). This bunker facility is expected to be commissioned during the third quarter of 2014.

New plans for bunkering ships are under development in light of the potential for growing demand for larger volumes of LNG bunkers. In 2011, AGA commissioned the Brunnsviksholmen (Nynäshamn) regasification terminal south of Stockholm. This is also used to bunker trucks, some of which are filling the small LNG bunkering ship Seagas (180 m3 tank).

Also in Sweden, there are two terminals scheduled to begin operations in 2014 and 2015 (Lysekil and Gothenburg) where bunkering activities are expected to start. Gothenburg port has already confirmed that it is heavily involved in the development of LNG bunkering facilities and bunkering procedures.

Some new LNG import terminals are also planned in Finland. Outokumpu terminal in Tornio Harbour is to start operations in 2014 and Gasum Pansio Harbour will be commissioned in 2015. In addition, Gasum, the natural gas company of Finland, which recently agreed to acquire control of the distribution operations of Norway’s Skangass, has chosen the western Finnish port of Pori as the location for its first LNG import terminal, and may build a second facility for the country further south near the port of Turku.

Truck-to-ship bunkering operations, meanwhile, have already been carried out in Hirtshals for Fjord Line ferry ships operated between Norway and Denmark.

Various plans to build LNG bunkering stations have also been reported elsewhere in recent months, mainly in Northern Europe. Brunsbüttel, at the entrance to the Kiel Canal, Hamburg, and Bremerhaven are the most important scheduled facilities in Germany. Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge are also developing plans, and some truck-to-ship bunkering operations have already been carried out with small ships. Some port authorities are developing projects for LNG bunkering ships, and both Rotterdam and Zeebrugge currently have standard LNG terminals with specific small scale facilities. In fact, the small scale LNG carriers Coral Methane and Coral Energy are already calling at the Zeebrugge LNG terminal.

In the UK, the Grain LNG terminal east of London is also considering the possibility of developing break-bulk facilities to be able to reload small scale LNG carriers and to supply LNG to trucks. However, no final decision involving investment for the small scale facilities has been announced.

France is another example of how quickly the development of LNG bunkering facilities is expected to take place. In Dunkerque, a consortium led by EDF is studying the possibility of installing an LNG bunkering station in the vicinity of the LNG terminal.

Meanwhile, in connection with the decision of Brittany Ferries to build a Ro-Pax ship fuelled with natural gas, Roscoff is presently involved in several studies to develop (subject to feasibility) a bunkering station. The project, in joint development with the port of Santander in Spain, is supported by the TEN-T European programme, as is the case with some of the other planned bunkering facilities for sea and inland navigation ports in the EU.

Mediterranean Sea LNG bunkering outlook

Even though the Mediterranean is not included in the MARPOL ECA area, discussions are still ongoing regarding the possibility of establishing an ECA in the region. And EU regulations are in any case pushing stakeholders involved in the shipping industry in that area to consider clean fuels, at least for use in port or, in the case of passenger ships, for navigation within exclusive economic zones.

As a consequence, Algeciras, Barcelona, Cartagena and Valencia are also considering the feasibility of LNG bunkering. Significant consumers of LNG in these ports, as well as in the south of France (Marseille), and in Italian and Greek ports, are likely to be passenger ships.

US and Canada speeding-up development

LNG bunker facilities are likely to be developed very quickly in the US and possibly in Canada in line with expected calls for competitive clean fuel linked to cheaper shale gas. This is why New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Tacoma and the Great Lakes have been identified as serious locations for bunkering stations. The shipping company Harvey Gulf has already confirmed the construction of a bunkering facility in Port Fourchon for the platform supply vessels under construction there.

Far East and Australia

Efforts are also taking place in China to switch to natural gas as a fuel for the transportation chain, including shipping. Initiatives to date mainly involve inland navigation vessels, one example of which is the plan to develop stations to bunker LNG ships navigating the Yangtze River.

Also in Asia, the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (the main bunkering port for the Asia Pacific region) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2013 with the Belgian ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge “to work together on research, regulations, and other frameworks for LNG bunkering”.1 Singapore is also considering implementing bunkering stations in line with competitors in Europe.

South Korea’s major gas company, KOGAS, has been facilitating LNG bunkering since 2013 via truck-to-ship operations involving the Incheon Port Authority ferry Econuri, and even though no bunkering operations involving LNG have been reported in Japan to date, established shipowners such as Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) are also looking increasingly to this alternative fuel.

In addition, there are already some considerations in Australia for the development of LNG as fuel and its required infrastructure. LNG bunkering stations for ships will be developed following the actual demand as small scale LNG facilities are established for industry purposes.


LNG bunkering expectations are significant as the use of LNG as fuel will be widely spread very soon, particularly in heavy density navigation areas, European ports and ECAs.

Bureau Veritas is looking forward to the implementation of established rules, standards and guidelines on safe and reliable bunkering activity so that any danger during the refuelling of ships may be avoided. This is not an easy task as bunkering operations are not a simple LNG transfer, and there are already different bunkering methods available.

Larger gas-fuelled ships under construction or conversion with higher autonomy are pioneering the move to making bunker ships available in a few years time.

Stakeholders must work very closely to provide the necessary regulatory framework to ensure the safest LNG bunkering procedures and operations.Bureau Veritas has recently released LNG bunkering guidelines (NI.618) following the request from authorities, ports and other clients. The guidelines intend to cover all aspects relating to LNG bunkering and to guide the stakeholders in the development of LNG bunkering facilities and procedures. Bureau Veritas is closely following all developments in relation to this industry and has developed these guidelines for safe and reliable LNG bunkering.

1MPA Singapore, ‘Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore signs Memorandum of Understanding with Antwerp Port Authority and Port of Zeebrugge to harmonise LNG bunkering standards’,

Written by Carlos Guerrero, Bureau Veritas, France. Edited by Ted Monroe

The full version of this article is available in the July/August issue of LNG Industry.

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