BSM sees multiple roles for LNG bunker tankers

Singapore is in the right place for small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Southeast Asia but may have to wait for the right timing to reach its full potential as there are several factors at play.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) corporate director energy projects Angus Campbell told Seatrade Maritime News that it was unlikely shipowners would retrofit ships to run on LNG fuel. Meanwhile the decision by CMA CGM to order LNG-fueled ships was a game changer and BSM is looking at “various projects” related to liner companies as a result of that.

Read More: Why CMA CGM ordered 'game changing' 22,000 teu LNG-powered containerships

However, what this also means is that there will be a time lag, roughly till 2020, before any significant number of vessels are in the market for ship-to-ship bunkering of LNG. BSM is positioning itself to take advantage of this by making sure it has the ability to meet this market when it takes off.

BSM is collaborating with Babcock International Group to develop a 7,500 cu m gas supply vessel (GSV). Set for delivery in September and originally designed to be used for the LNG fueling of ships, including ferries, containers, cruise vessels and other shore-based gas consumers in the Baltic Sea, Campbell said similar vessels could also find application in Southeast Asia.

These could range in size from the 3,500 cu m to 5,000 cu m segment at the low end right up to the 20,000 cu m for tankers meant for LNG bunkering of big containerships. However, these would also likely come in the form of barges rather than conventional tankers, Campbell added.

Read More: Up to 44% of shipowners considering LNG power for newbuilds

There needs to be a mixed approach to the development of small scale LNG in the early years as the number of LNG-fueled ships on the water starts to build up, Campbell said. He pointed out for example that the GSV was originally mainly designed for ship-to-ship operations but due to the time lag before this happens, “you have to make commercial sense of what you do with these small LNG carriers”.

Campbell suggested that an obvious application would be for LNG transhipment, and this is one way they could be used in Southeast Asia. “They’re shallow draft, can get into small ports, carry small parcels,” he said of the vessels which are essentially shuttle tankers for LNG but with additional capability such as being more maneuverable and having additional fenders and so on.

Campbell emphasized that higher maneuverability adds to safety while being able to operate on its own without tugs and pilots also adds to competitiveness.

“Around Singapore there are many opportunities for small-scale transshipment whether that’s for power generation or other industrial uses,” said Campbell. These could include for powering heavy vehicles where a hub and spoke model centred on a sea transport-supplied hub could be used.

“We’ve got to be quite open and imaginative about how we look at the uses but with Singapore LNG you’ve already got the infrastructure; the geographical area lends itself to it very nicely if you can overcome the political considerations,” Campbell concluded.

Posted 04 May 2018

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

Vincent Wee

Asia Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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