Canada’s First LNG Bunker Vessel Takes Shape in China

Credit: Venti Views/Unsplash

Steel cut for first of two Seaspan ULC LNG bunker vessels, which will serve the Port of Vancouver and Canadian Pacific Northwest. Canada’s first LNG bunker vessel is taking shape at China’s Nantong CIMC Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering (SOE), with delivery targeted for Q4 2024, reports Riviera.

LNG bunker vessels

Steel was cut in February for the first of two 7,600-m3 LNG bunker vessels ordered by Canadian shipowner Seaspan ULC from the Chinese shipyard, with the real possibility of an optional third looming.

The result of a two-year collaboration between ship designer Vard Marine and Seaspan before the contract was handed to the Chinese shipbuilder, the LNG bunker vessels will embody the latest in environmentally desirable technology, including a reduction in underwater rated noise through, among other things, a specially designed propeller.

In the forefront of sustainable shipping, Seaspan is a group of Canadian companies primarily involved in coastal marine transportation, shipdocking/ship escort, ship repair and shipbuilding services in Western North America.

In a landmark project for the North American shipping industry, the vessels will be the first and largest dedicated LNG bunker ships to be designed and built to date for operations in the region. And it is unlikely they will be idle. “LNG as a marine fuel is being adopted in North America and around the world at an exponential rate,” according to Darren Truelock, vice-president of Vard Marine’s Houston operations.

Fuel demand from LNG-fuelled ships calling at the Port of Vancouver could exceed 1.2M tonnes by 2030, according to an assessment by Fearnley LNG Advisors. The port hosted its first LNG-powered vessel, NYK Line’s pure car and truck carrier Sakura Leader, almost three years ago.

The contract

As well as being an important project for North America, the contract confirms SOE’s place as a leader in the construction of small- to medium-scale gas carriers. As of end-2022, the Chinese company had built 39 gas carriers for LNG, LEG and LPG trades, while delivering 311 Type C tanks, according to its website. Similarly, Fincantieri-owned Vard is building up its portfolio of LNG designs. These latest vessels follow a series of designs for LNG bunkering ships from 1,200 m3 to 15,000 m3.

The vessels will be put to work on ship-to-ship transfers, as well as coastal and short-sea shipping operations. According to Vard: “The design is focused on safe, efficient and economical refueling of multiple ship types, as well as an ability to transfer to and from a wide range of terminals.”

The vessels will be equipped with two Type C tanks and an LNG sub-cooling system to maintain the correct temperature of the cargo during transit and anchorage. A specially designed ship-to-ship fuel transfer system will be installed.

The shipyard has signed TGE Marine to supply cargo handling and fuel gas systems, while Norway’s Hoglund will deliver the integrated automation system that connects all the vital elements of cargo handling, control and electrical propulsion.

The contracts come in the wake of British Columbia’s stated drive to achieve zero-emission shipping by 2050, an ambition which Seaspan actively supports. Its ferries division recently piloted renewable natural gas on its roll-on, roll-off LNG-powered fleet and, at the time of writing, the results showed that Seaspan expected their use could slash greenhouse gas emissions by around 85% compared with diesel fuel.

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Source: Riviera