NorthStar Midstream, a portfolio company of funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, has formed Polaris New Energy (PNE), a transport company focused on the shipping and distribution of LNG along US coastal and inland waterways.
NorthStar has also signed an agreement with Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding to build a 5,400 cu m barge, with the ability to potentially construct two sister barges.
With a suitable tugboat, the barge will operate as an articulated tug and barge unit (ATB) that will initially operate along the US East Coast providing LNG bunkers to NorthStar’s customers.
PNE will be sourcing LNG from JAX LNG, the new LNG production facility in Jacksonville, Florida created through a partnership between NorthStar and Pivotal LNG.
The ATB will be fitted with four 1,350 cu m IMO Type ‘C’ tanks and will be fitted with a cargo handling system designed and developed by Wärtsilä. Her dimensions will be 340 ft overall length, 66 ft beam, and a depth of 32 ft10 ins. The ATB will be an ABS classed barge.
Tim Casey, NorthStar Midstream Executive President of LNG,explained: “The construction of this barge will expand our ability to solve the logistics behind delivering LNG to our customers in both an economical and safe manner.
“As domestic natural gas continues to rise, LNG has quickly become both a clean and competitively priced fuel alternative. We see increased domestic industries looking to LNG as their future fuel source, and we are extremely excited to be on the forefront of LNG domestic marine transportation. This is a first step in Oaktree and NorthStar’s strategy to create a complete platform of LNG logistical solutions for US customers, ” he said.
Todd Thayse, Vice President and General Manager of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, added: “Entry into the US LNG transportation vessel market has been a strategic interest of our organisation. Partnering with NorthStar and its affiliate companies on this project gives us the opportunity to be part of this exciting emerging industry and related market growth.
“As we put this project into place, we will bring the expertise of Fincantieri and our own designs to the LNG market. The hard working women and men of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding are well prepared and eager to begin, providing the eventual on-time delivery and quality the maritime industry has come to know and expect from our shipyards,” he said.