SOHAR Port and Freezone, located in the Sultanate of Oman, is to join the growing group of ports offering LNG ship-to-ship services. Fendercare Marine Ltd, marine product and service provider, and SPT, provider of ship to ship transfer services, will be offered the opportunity to provide this pioneering service after requesting permission to begin operations. SOHAR Executive Commercial Manager Edwin Lammers revealed there are also plans to establish LNG bunkering facilities in SOHAR in years to come.
That measures are now in place to begin issuing licenses to Ship-to-Ship (STS) service providers equipped to handle LNG, came as an historic announcement at the 2014 Singapore International Bunkering Conference (SIBCON). “We are delighted to announce that we have put all of the necessary licensing structures in place to be able to start LNG ship-to-ship services in SOHAR. Around the world there are currently only a few ports that are able to offer this service, among them Port of Rotterdam and Singapore,” Mr. Lammers explained.
“This will be the first phase of our project, and we will move quickly in issuing the new licenses and getting things up and running. The second phase will involve installing LNG bunkering services for vessels calling at SOHAR Port,” he continued.
The news comes just a few months ahead of the International Maritime Organisation’s deadline for cargo ships passing through so-called ‘Emissions Control Areas’ to drastically reduce the level of sulphur oxide in fuel supplies to just 0.1%. This has prompted an almost immediate worldwide investigation into potential LNG fuelling options.
“While the industry continues to explore safe and commercially viable options for reducing SOX levels in conventional fuels, many of the world’s biggest shipping lines are looking to bypass costly upgrades in favour of moving directly to LNG. We’ve anticipated this trend and expect the industry to develop fast,” said Lammers.
He continued: “As a first step, many organisations are developing dual-fuel ships that would be capable of burning LNG and diesel; Hanjin Shipping, DNV GL and GTT, for example, are currently designing a vessel that can carry 16,300 TEU on Asia-Europe routes. United Arab Shipping Co. is also building 17 hybrid ships — six with capacities of over 18,000 TEU, while UASC is looking to establish an LNG base in the Middle East.”
In addition to global shipping lines, a new European Union regulatory framework will make it a requirement for member states to build LNG infrastructure across core Trans-European Networks for Transport by 2025, ideally every 400 kilometres. With many of Europe’s ports falling within one of the IMO’s Emissions Control Areas, the new rules are part of a far wider clean fuel strategy focused on bringing alternative fuels to the entire European transport sector, including inland vehicles.
And Europe is not alone, according to Mr. Lammers: “A recent LNG bunkering survey published by Lloyd’s Register reported that of the 4 ports in North America, 15 in Europe, and 3 in Asia that took part in the survey, more than half have LNG plans in the pipeline, and more than half also said they are working alongside other ports to develop those plans,” Lammers continued.
Sohar is the capital and largest city of the Al Batinah North Governorate in the Sultanate of Oman. SOHAR Port and Freezone is a deep sea port and free zone in the Middle East, is managed by Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC), a joint venture between the Port of Rotterdam and the Sultanate of Oman.