A total of nine purpose-built vessels are reportedly on order or already on the water, with Shell dominating the race so far with a planned fleet of four LNG bunker vessels but facing new competition from energy majors Total and Korea Gas for the next phase of LNG bunker infrastructure.
Completed vessels include Engie Zeebrugge, Coralius and Cardissa while confirmed orders are for the 7,500 cubic-metre Hull 2234 due in South Korea in 2019, a 7,500 cubic-metre vessel due in Klaipeda in 2019 and a 3,000 cubic-metre vessel due in Rotterdam in 2019.
Shell plans Coral Methane modifications
Alongside its plans for a new barge to be built by Q-LNG, Shell is reportedly planning to consolidate its first-mover position in the sector by finalising plans to convert the Anthony Veder-owned Coral Methane from an LNG carrier to an LNG supply vessel.
While the company’s plans for Coral Methane are still at an early stage it expects to upgrade the 7,551-cubic-metre multigas carrier to become the world’s first small-scale LNG/LPG/LEG bunker vessel.
“Shell has already ordered its second LNG bunker-supply ship… Number three is in the making and, already, ships number four and five are on the cards. The ball is rolling. Now, the question is getting others to follow,” Lauran Wetemans, general manager for downstream LNG at Shell said during the launch of Shell’s first barge Cardissa in Rotterdam.
Total eyes Asian tie-up
French energy firm Total has also reportedly invited shipyards to bid for the construction of a new LNG bunker-supply ship that will be double the size of any built to date.
Discussions between Total and Chinese and South Korean shipyards are reportedly aimed at constructing a vessel capable of supplying up to 18,000 cubic metres of LNG. The deal is linked to shipping line CMA CGM’s order for nine 22,000 TEU container ships due for delivery by the end of 2019.
Total does not intend to own and operate the new bunker vessels according to reports by LNG World Shipping which suggest that inquiries with a shipowner are happening in parallel. Total is instead discussing means to charter the necessary capacity.
Korea Gas meanwhile has ordered a Samsung Heavy Industries-built Hull 2234, which it plans to charter for LNG supply and US-based Jax LNG is building the Clean Jacksonville, which is expected to be the first barge in the U.S. when it enters service later this year.