A barge powered by LNG was bunkered from a truck, the first time this has ever been done in a Belgian port. The barge, the Argonon, is operated by Deen Shipping.
This represents a further significant step towards more environment-friendly shipping in the port of Antwerp. Antwerp Port Authority continues to lend support to those seeking to switch to this more environment-friendly fuel, and so to make the logistics chain yet more sustainable.
With the introduction of maximum levels for the sulphur content of bunker fuel and stricter standards for emissions by seagoing ships as well as barges, the use of LNG as an alternative to gasoil has been under consideration for some time now.
However, such a step demands large efforts not only by ship owners but also by the port, as the necessary facilities have to be provided. As part of its sustainability policy, Antwerp Port Authority seeks not only to facilitate but also to encourage the use of LNG as a fuel for ships and barges. Indeed it has undertaken to make LNG available in the port in a safe, efficient manner, in the same way as is already done for conventional fuels. The target date for this is 2015, when the stricter IMO sulphur standards come into force.
Safe bunkering with LNG
With a view to LNG bunkering the Port Authority carried out a study to determine the safety perimeters and the procedures for truck-to-ship transfer. It has also drawn up bunker checklists and guidelines for such innovative bunkering operations, in collaboration with the LNG workgroup of the World Ports Climate Initiative, for which Antwerp is acting as “lead port.” These guidelines and procedures form the essential conditions for safe, efficient transfer of LNG within the port area. The Port Authority is also looking for suitable locations where the necessary facilities can be provided.
Apart from the safety aspects of bunkering, an investigation was carried out into the possible effects on external safety in the port area and in the vicinity of waterways. The conclusion was that the use of LNG as a fuel would have a minimal impact on the safety of shipping traffic on the Western Scheldt (i.e. the lower Scheldt estuary). This shows that the use of LNG in the Western Scheldt area can offer a realistic and useful alternative to conventional shipping fuel.
LNG World News Staff, December 11, 2012; Image: Deen Shipping