The company ITSAS Gas, part owned by Vasco de la Energía, the Basque Government’s energy agency, has carried out the first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering test in the port of Bilbao. The 74 metre bunker vessel Oizmendi, a converted supply tanker, carried out a claimed first bunkering throughout the Atlantic Arc and the Mediterranean, and represents a milestone in the progress towards a cleaner energy supply in the maritime sector, which is highly dependent on petroleum products.
President of the Basque Energy Agency and Minister of Economic Development and Infrastructure, Arantza Tapia, said this new vessel supply service “positions us as a European benchmark in terms of sustainable transport at sea” and places the port as a reference route for gas refueling.
During the pilot fuel test approximately 90 m3 of LNG was transferred from the Oizmendi to the cement ship M.V. Ireland, moored in the port of Bilbao. With this, a new gas supply service is started for those ships that operate with natural gas and that, thus far, do not have a wide network of refueling points in European ports.
In this context, the Basque Community leads three LNG implementation projects in the maritime field, which will receive funds from the European Commission through the Core LNGas Hive project, in which the Port Authority of Bilbao also participates. Specifically, Brussels will contribute EUR 4.85 million (USD 5.96 million) of the EUR 9.7 million total investment.
This project has three milestones, which include:
- The Bay of Biscay Gas (BBG) regasification plant, owned by Enagás and the EVE, will remodel the dock and the terminal to facilitate the loading of LNG for the Itsas Gas vessel (already completed).
- The start-up of the LNG supply vessel capable of supplying ships by ship -both in port and abroad (now completed)
- Finally, the construction and start-up of a natural gas tugboat, led by Grupo Financiero Ibaizabal (construction planned to commence in 2018)
LNG supply vessel
The Oizmendi, formerly called Monte Arucas, has required a broad transformation to house, along with conventional fuel oil tanks, two large tanks of LNG (natural gas that has been cooled to -161 degrees Celsius to remain in a liquid state, which reduces its volume 600 times and facilitates its logistics).
LNG is increasingly used in the maritime field, as it constitutes an economic and environmental alternative to oil derivatives. The conversion works were carried out over seven months in the Murueta Shipyard, and have included, among other equipment, the installation of two tanks of 300 m3 each to house the gas with which to supply the ships.
Source: Port of Bilbao