Western Australia’s Fremantle Ports, a government trading enterprise (GTE), is to become the first port in Australia to establish a liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering facility. The Port has approved EVOL LNG as the fuel provider, enabling LNG-powered marine vessels visiting Fremantle Port access to this increasingly popular marine fuel alternative.
The decision follows the announcement in April this year by Australian oil and gas company Woodside that it had signed a five-year charter contract with Norwegian company Siem Offshore Australia Pty Ltd to deliver Australia’s first LNG-powered marine support vessel in 2017.
Gas Energy Australia, the national peak body for the downstream gas industry, has welcomed the announcement: “Having cleaner, cheaper LNG available for ships at Fremantle Port will encourage cleaner running LNG ships from all over the world to stop and refuel at Fremantle, and with LNG producing significantly less emissions, it’s good for the Australian environment,” CEO John Griffiths said.
EVOL LNG is managed by Kleenheat, which is part of Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers, a part of Wesfarmers Limited. The company has been supplying LNG fuel for land-based transportation for many years.
The availability of LNG as a bunker fuel, which will be delivered from EVOL LNG’s Kwinana LNG plant, will pave the way for LNG-fuelled ships to visit the port, and provide the option for local ferries and workboats to switch to the lower-cost, lower-emission fuel.
It will also see Fremantle Port become part of a growing global LNG bunkering network which includes major ports in Europe, North America, Qatar, Singapore, Japan and Korea as well as more than 40 other ports from around the world which bunker LNG, or have plans to do so.
EVOL LNG’s Business Manager, Nick Rea, said he was confident the global fleet of LNG-fuelled ships would continue to grow, and that EVOL LNG was well placed to support the growth.
“Our decision to provide LNG bunkering to the shipping industry is based on a long-term strategy,” Mr Rea said. “Over the past decade, we’ve seen the number of LNG-fuelled ships in operation worldwide increase steadily from a handful to more than 70, with an additional 80 to be built in coming years.”
Rea explained to NGV Global News that initially EVOL LNG will use the truck to ship method. A shore-to-ship facility will be considered once there is sufficient demand. Amongst the possible berths identified as suitable for bunkering at this stage are Berths 1 & 2 on the north side of the inner harbour.
Growth had largely been driven by the introduction of emission regulations, such as Emission Control Areas in Europe and North America, and the expectation of better returns than by operating on low-sulphur fuels or installing exhaust scrubber systems.
“LNG is a cleaner fuel than marine diesel, emitting 25 percent less carbon dioxide, less nitrogen oxides, almost zero sulphur oxides, as well as fewer harmful particulates,” Rea said.
“As emission reduction efforts continue to increase in importance, including in Australia, we expect the adoption of LNG as a low emission marine fuel to increase. Apart from the environmental benefits, we expect to see a widening gap in the fuel price spread, as well as the cost of LNG-fuelled ships reducing as the technology matures. The business case for ship owners to invest in LNG-fuelled ships is becoming more and more compelling.”
EVOL LNG will be able to supply its customers with LNG at a price that is competitive with low-sulphur marine diesel and will be able to refuel ships at up to 45 tonnes per hour of LNG, which is comparable to refuelling with traditional bunker fuels.
“We”re looking forward to working with Fremantle Ports and believe it is well-placed to support future LNG-fuelled workboats servicing Fremantle, the offshore oil and gas fields in the north west of WA, as well as itinerant LNG-fuelled vessels travelling between Australia and south-east Asia,” Rea elaborated.
Rea said EVOL LNG is willing to obtain licenses from other major Australian and regional WA ports to conduct LNG bunkering operations, explaining that truck-to-ship LNG bunkering can be achieved without the need for new fixed infrastructure to be built.
Later this year, an LNG powered SeaRoad vessel will start operating between Victoria and Tasmania in Australia’s east.
(Source: EVOL LNG)