In a milestone for LNG bunkering, the world’s first purpose-built LNG bunkering vessel has completed its first ship-to-ship transfer. From approximately 05:00 UTC to 19:15 UTC on April 10, 2017, the ENGIE Zeebrugge bunkered the Auto Eco in a Zeebrugge vehicle facility with LNG loaded from Fluxys LNG terminal in Belgium.
The April 10 meeting has been years in the making. The ENGIE Zeebrugge was first ordered in July 2014 and built in Yeongdo Shipyard in Busan, South Korea. After sailing from Busan in late February 2017, the vessel arrived in Zeebrugge on April 1.
Timeline of events:
- February 23: the ENGIE Zeebrugge left Busan, South Korea
- April 1: ENGIE Zeebrugge arrived in Zeebrugge, Belgium
- April 5-6: From approximately April 5 18:20 UTC to April 6 12:00 UTC, ENGIE Zeebrugge loaded LNG at Fluxys LNG terminal
- April 10: From approximately 05:00 UTC to 19:15 UTC, ENGIE Zeebrugge bunkered Auto Eco
The ENGIE will operate in the port of Zeebrugge and transfer LNG loaded from Fluxys LNG terminal in Zeebrugge to LNG-fueled vessels operating in Northern Europe. One such vessel is the Auto Eco, which has made history of its own as the world’s first LNG-fueled car carrier. The ENGIE’s next customer is expected to be the Eco’s sister vessel, the Auto Energy.
Both vessels represent a watershed moment in the development of LNG bunkering. As emission regulations tighten, LNG bunkering has grown in popularity as a cleaner alternative to oil. Its implementation, however, is limited by the current LNG supply infrastructure, including a lack of dedicated bunker vessels.
Before the ENGIE Zeebrugge was delivered, for example, the Auto Eco’s bunker fuel was supplied by trucks. This method is infeasible for many vessels and a barrier to a robust LNG bunkering market. There have been some instances of ship-to-ship LNG bunkering, such as when the Coral Energy bunkered LNG to the Ternsund near Gothenburg, Sweden on September 3, 2016, but the Coral Energy is not a dedicated bunkering vessel. The ENGIE Zeebrugge is just the first of several expected vessels whose primary purpose is to provide LNG as bunker fuel.
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