Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is gaining ever more in its popularity as an alternative marine fuel, especially with the introduction of more stringent environmental regulations by the international maritime authorities.
The benefits of LNG in cutting emissions are indisputable, however there are various aspects to it ranging from standardization of regulative framework to emergency response that remain to be resolved.
In an interview with World Maritime News, Technical Manager for Environment at the Port of Antwerp, Mse Tessa Major, spoke of the current developments at the port with respect to LNG bunkering and main challenges ports face in bringing this service to its customers.
WMN: As the port is currently in the process of tendering a candidate to build and operate an LNG bunker station for barges, to be ready by the beginning of 2016, could you update us on the ongoing activities? What are the expectations?
Major: “Antwerp is part of the LNG Master Plan, an EU funded project, together with other ports like the port of Rotterdam, port of Strasbourg etc. Within this framework we have received 50% funding to build an LNG bunker terminal.
At the moment, on the one hand, we are undergoing a public procurement process for the design and construction of the terminal and on the other hand, a tendering process for its operation.
We, as a port authority, are not a bunker company and don’t endeavor to become one. What we want to do is to help kick start the LNG market. Therefore, we are now starting up the LNG supply chain.
The bunker terminal is intended for bunkering of inland shipping. Today we already have truck-to-ship bunkering at the port, but we foresee, in the long run, it would be of added benefit to have a fixed bunkering location because of security of delivery, its flexibility etc.
We will be the owner of the terminal but will not be involved in its daily operation. The tendering process has just started for the operator and the tender was officially published last week.”
WMN: When can we expect the winner of the tender? Are there any preferential bidders?
Major: “We conducted a non-binding market consultation to get the sense of what the market wants also in terms of technical specifications.
The feedback we received has become an intricate part of the procurement process for the design and build. We hope to get a candidate within the second quarter of 2015.
We don’t know who the winner might be, however, the tendering procedure is designed in such a way that it will ensure we get the best candidate. This is ensured since the process is open to all and as such candidates that might have not been visible previously might become visible during this public procurement process.”
WMN: Recently a delegation from Port of Antwerp was in Singapore discussing harmonization of bunkering procedures for LNG. What have been the conclusions?
Major: “In November last year we had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the port of Singapore and Zeebrugge to work towards the harmonization of LNG bunkering procedures. This group has been broadened to the Port of Rotterdam and has been renamed into a focus group.
Since each of the said ports has implemented LNG bunkering procedures into their respective bylaws (expect for the port of Zeebrugge), we have decided to work together to harmonize these procedures as much as possible. We have defined the terms of reference and things we want to work on and have agreed on the steps to proceed with. We have agreed also on a follow up meeting and this cooperation is progressing really well.
Speaking of the issues that need to be tackled, Major said that the next topic at hand will be the harmonization of the accreditation procedures or the license to operate for LNG bunker companies.
“We are also looking at emergency response. This in particular relates to the notification process: how to notify a port if an incident happens? This includes sharing lessons learned among involved parties and working together to create something that is thus far missing in terms of regulatory framework.”
WMN: Is LNG a viable solution for ships as alternative marine fuel?
Major: “We sincerely believe that it is a viable solution for the shipping industry especially with the upcoming environmental regulations with not only reducing Sulphur but also Nitrogen emissions.
We feel that LNG is a comprehensive solution and its use has already been proven. We understand that there is still a number of hurdles regarding the supply chain and lack in clarity in terms of regulations. That is why we are investing efforts in development of procedures and transparency and development of the supply chain in and to the port.
However, we support all other solutions to make ships compliant with the regulations. We, as a port, want to be ready for the pioneers in the industry and facilitate the change toward a sustainable maritime industry as much as possible and LNG is part of that.
There are multiple questions shipowners have when it comes to LNG. A port can play a role in some of them, because it is part of our management to be sustainable and proactive.”
According to Major, this particularly relates to facilitating provision of LNG to shipowners by becoming a place they can get the LNG they need.
World Maritime News Staff