The European Commission is giving financial support for the construction of the first LNG bunkering barge to operate in the Port of Algeciras near the Strait of Gibraltar under a project backed by Enagás, the Spanish gas network and LNG terminal operator as well as the local Port Authority.
The executive arm of the European Union has signed an agreement with Enagás covering the co-financing to build the first barge dedicated to LNG bunkering in Algeciras.
The barge will load LNG at the Enagás import terminal in Huelva in southwest Spain and will operate in the port area of Algeciras.
The project consists of the construction of the barge with a storage capacity of 12,500 cubic metres of LNG and commissioning is scheduled for 2023.
Once in operation, the barge will re-fuel shipping customers or reload other barges for subsequent supply to smaller ships in Algeciras Bay or in the Port.
“This project is promoted by the Enagás subsidiary specialized in small-scale LNG supply infrastructures, Scale Gas, and the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA),” said Enagás.
The EU initiative, coordinated by Enagás, is part of the “LNGhive2” strategy led by Spain’s Puertos del Estado and the EU’s transport aid program called Connecting Europe Facilities, which will finance 20 percent of the project, or approximately €11 million (£13.5M).
“The objective is to support the development of the LNG market as a sustainable maritime fuel, in line with the European Directive 94/2014 on alternative fuels,” explained Enagás.
The Port of Algeciras, which handles containerships, cargo vessels and ferries to North Africa, made the first supply of LNG as fuel for ships in Spain by tanker truck and in 2012 in a truck-to-ship transfer.
In 2020, seven such operations were carried out in Algeciras and 300 percent more LNG was supplied to ships than in 2019.
Once operational, this new barge will support both ship-to-ship and truck-to-ship operations.
Enagás noted that six Spanish ports now offer LNG bunkering.
LNG is seen by the shipping industry as a solid alternative for the move towards the decarbonisation of maritime transport and is regarded as the cleanest fuel among those currently available.
“In addition to promoting more sustainable maritime transport and improving air quality in the Bay of Algeciras, this project will consolidate efforts by Spain and the Port of Algeciras to be a European benchmark for LNG bunkering in the Strait of Gibraltar,” stated the Spanish company.
According to the European Maritime classification society DNV GL, there are more than 175 LNG-powered vessels operating in the world.
“This new ship for Port of Algeciras will join the 20 barges that already supply LNG worldwide and will reinforce the role of the country, and its respective ports, in the field of LNG bunkering,” stated Enagás.