The LNG ATB vessel will offer LNG bunkering and small-scale distribution in the North American Pacific Northwest by 2023
While much discussion in North America has centred around the development of LNG bunker barges on the US east coast, British Columbia-based Cryopeak LNG is moving forward with plans for an LNG bunker articulated tug barge (ATB) unit for Canada’s west coast.
In December, Cryopeak LNG went out to shipyards in Europe and Asia to gather cost estimates for the construction of the 4,000-m3 LNG bunker barge.
The move by Cryopeak LNG follows a memorandum of understanding (MOU) it signed with inland bulk fuels transporter Island Tug & Barge in July 2020. At the time of the MOU, Cryopeak LNG chief executive Calum McClure said the project would support the “Port of Vancouver in joining other leading ports globally in offering LNG bunkering services.”
Building on its relationship with Island Tug & Barge, Cryopeak LNG inked an MOU with Sumitomo to jointly develop an LNG bunker fuels supply chain in Pacific Northwest ports, such as Vancouver, Fraser River Port, Roberts Bank and Prince Rupert, Canada.
A critical piece of the LNG supply chain will be the newbuild ATB barge. Designed by Capilano Maritime Design, the LNG bunker barge will be fitted with IMO Type C tanks and built to ABS class, providing ship-to-ship transfers to LNG-fuelled vessels and ship-to-shore transfers for small-scale marine distribution infrastructure in the region.
The barge design offers a versatile and flexible platform to end users, says Cryopeak LNG senior vice president, business development Alesander ‘Sasa’ Cook. “We’re continuing to collaborate with the market and potential end users,” says Mr Cook. He says it could be used to refuel ferries, cruise ships and container vessels calling at Pacific Northwest ports. “We believe this barge will offer the lowest capex and opex business model.” For example, he points out, the LNG ATB could also be decoupled from its tug and moored shoreside for refuelling or distribution.
With the LNG fuel market still in the “embryonic stage,” Mr Cook says one of the difficulties faced in the Pacific Northwest is the surety of LNG supply. “On the west coast, you don’t have the supply of LNG you might find in Europe, for example, if you travelled clockwise from Spain to Finland,” he points out. However, surety of LNG bunkering supply is on the way, says Mr Cook, on both sides of the US-Canadian border.
FortisBC is moving forward with an US$18.5M expansion at its Tilbury LNG facility in Delta, British Columbia. The Tilbury Truck Loading Expansion project will add two new truck loading bays to double the facility’s capacity to provide customers with LNG.
This most recent expansion of the Tilbury LNG facility follows one in 2018, when FortisBC increased production capacity to support local ferry and truck transport customers. At present, Tilbury LNG exports LNG via ISO containers to Asia, filling over 1,000 LNG containers annually. Among its Canadian maritime customers are BC Ferries and Seaspan Ferries, both of which fill their LNG-fuelled vessels by truck.
First LNG facility on west coast
Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) US$310M Tacoma LNG facility at the Port of Tacoma will be the first LNG bunkering terminal on the west coast of North America. Set for commission in Q2 2021, Tacoma LNG will be a multi-use facility, providing LNG for Puget LNG’s commercial customers, and the necessary natural gas reserves for PSE’s utility customers. Its main maritime consumers will be TOTE Maritime Alaska’s dual-fuel Orca-class roro vessels, which operate weekly between Tacoma and Alaska.
The expansion of LNG regionally will underpin Cryopeak LNG’s plan to be a low-cost provider of LNG to western and northern Canada and Alaska.
If all progresses according to plan, Mr Cook anticipates moving towards FID on the LNG bunker barge by the end of 2021, with the start of operations in 2023, delivering LNG as a fuel to shipping companies calling at ports on the west coast.