Dan-Erik Andersson, Gothenburg Port Authority, Sweden, looks at the challenges and execution of Sweden’s first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operation.
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The Port of Gothenburg in Sweden is the largest port in Scandinavia and the gateway to the world for many sectors of Swedish industry. It is also the location of the biggest general energy ports in Sweden. The Energy Port in Gothenburg is vitally important for energy supplies throughout the country. Depots at the Energy Port supply large areas of Sweden – including the whole of western Sweden – with petrol and diesel. There is also extensive product storage in tanks and underground caverns.
In 2016, approximately 2100 sea tankers called at the port, and more than 23 million t of crude oil, petrol, diesel and other energy products were handled. There has been a significant upturn in recent years in the volume of more environmentally friendly products passing through the Energy Port in Gothenburg. At present, one of the main priorities is to offer LNG to the shipping industry.
Close collaboration with the market
In 2008, the Port of Gothenburg first began examining the potential of LNG as a marine fuel. This decision was reached based on the realisation that the use of LNG in the shipping sector offered substantial environmental benefits. Sulfur and particle emissions are reduced to almost zero, nitrogen emissions are reduced by 85 – 90%, and CO2 emissions are reduced by 25%.
The port began discussing LNG as a marine fuel with the Gothenburg-based tanker companies Tärntank, Furetank, Älvtank, Thun Tankers and Sirius. Then, the port commenced discussions with the authorities to secure an environmental permit and to ensure the necessary infrastructure was in place to begin handling LNG.
The dialogue between the Port of Gothenburg and the authorities resulted in a set of operating regulations for the bunkering of LNG. These operating regulations were crucial if the port was to be granted an environmental permit for the handling of LNG.
LNG bunkering regulations
The bunkering regulations for ships that run on LNG were produced by the Port of Gothenburg in collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration and the Port of Rotterdam (the Netherlands). The operating regulations were published in 2015.
The regulations allow cargo ships to bunker LNG and are the first general regulations to be introduced in Sweden. Requirements governing safety zones, weather, bunker vessels, receiving vessels, terminals and other aspects are included in the new operating regulations.
Gothenburg, together with Rotterdam, is one of the first ports in the world to produce a set of instructions of this nature. The rules permit bunkering in different ways – ship-to-ship (STS), road tanker, or via a land connection – and have been widely recognised.
Both ports in Sweden and in other countries, such as Poland, China and countries around the Mediterranean, have shown interest in this, and are formulating their regulations using the Port of Gothenburg’s regulations as a template. Even public agencies, such as the US Coast Guard, have contacted the port and are interested in an exchange of experience and knowledge.
First bunkering operation
Tärntank Ship Management AB was the first to launch an LNG-powered vessel in Gothenburg. M/T Ternsund was delivered at the end of the summer, and began its voyage from the shipyard in Singapore to Gothenburg. After calling at Rotterdam, the vessel arrived in Gothenburg on 13 August 2016, where it was presented to the market and took on LNG.
The bunkering operation took place on 3 September 2016, and was one of the world’s first examples of STS bunkering of LNG by a merchant vessel.
Natural gas from the North Sea
The bunkering took place at a protected location just off the island of Fotö at the entrance to the port. During the procedure, the vessel was supplied with 400 m3 of LNG by the Dutch bunkering vessel, Coral Energy. The natural gas came from the North Sea and was supplied by Skangas. Currently, there is no import terminal in Gothenburg and, on this occasion, the natural gas was collected from the Port of Risavika in Norway.
One of the challenges during the bunkering was the fact that the bunkering vessel, Coral Energy, is an LNG carrier and not a bunkering vessel in the normal sense. Coral Energy and M/T Ternsund are almost the same length, which meant that the mooring procedure was completely different compared to if a smaller, conventional bunkering vessel had been involved.
Before bunkering began, detailed calculations were made and a mooring plan was prepared to determine how the fenders, hawsers and ropes should be placed on the two vessels to ensure they were securely moored to each other. A key factor in STS bunkering is the weather, which fortunately was reasonable with moderate winds and some cloud cover. The general conditions were good.
As this was the first time that Coral Energy had carried out a bunkering operation of this nature, a tug was on hand to be on the safe side. Svitzer Gaia was present throughout the whole operation.
The bunkering took approximately five hours, including the planning and dialogue that took place on site. The crews went through the pressure, speeds and volumes one last time.
The operation was carried out smoothly and without incident. A key contributing factor was the set of operating regulations that were compiled, governing exactly how LNG bunkering should take place.
More LNG-powered ships to visit the port soon
Bunkering via Coral Energy is only a temporary solution. At the beginning of next year, Sirius Shipping’s new LNG bunkering vessel, Coralius, is due to be delivered to Gothenburg.
During the coming year, more ships are expected to bunker LNG on a regular basis at the Port of Gothenburg. Approximately 10 newly built, LNG-powered ships are on their way from the shipyards, all owned by Swedish tanker companies and all operating on routes that include Gothenburg. Tanker operators Terntank, Furetank and Thun Tankers are all due to launch new ships that will be equipped to run on LNG.
The port is expecting to receive a visit from an LNG-powered ship once or twice a week next year, and many will also take the opportunity to bunker in Gothenburg.
Benefits for LNG-powered ships
To encourage more companies to switch to LNG, Gothenburg Port Authority has introduced a heavy discount on the port charge, which means that ships that run on LNG will receive a 30% discount on the port charge when they visit the port. M/T Ternsund was the first vessel to receive the discount.
The Port of Gothenburg also expects substantial environmental benefits to materialise from the use of LNG in shipping and industry.
By putting sustainability issues in focus, ports can create long-term conditions that help customers and partners grow together with them. The road to greener transport can be reached through collaboration, and sustainable growth is more important than ever. LNG is the fuel of the future and can bridge the gap to other renewable gases. Therefore, the infrastructure that is invested in now can also be used in the future when renewable gas is more widely used than today.
This article was first published in LNG Industry. To receive your free copy, click here.
Read the article online at: https://www.lngindustry.com/special-reports/29062017/a-first-for-sweden/