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Dutch courage: Shell’s newest LNG launch

Wed 04 Oct 2017 by Karen Thomas

Dutch courage: Shell’s newest LNG launch

Shell presses its first-mover advantage in LNG bunker-supply ships

Last week, LNG World Shipping visited the port of Rotterdam. The Dutch port, best known as an oil hub and commercial port, is reinventing itself as the leading LNG hub for northwest Europe.

Shell invited LNG shipping leaders to Rotterdam Cruise Terminal to launch Cardissa, the LNG bunker-supply ship that it will operate out of Gate Terminal. At the event, Shell announced that it is already planning its third, fourth and fifth LNG bunker-supply ships.

Cardissa is a purpose-built newbuilding that Shell will own and operate. The second ship will be a newbuilding barge that Shell will charter from Victrol and CFT. It, too, will operate out of Rotterdam, down the Rhine.

Shell’s third ship could be the Anthony Veder multigas carrier, Coral Methane. Shell wants to add a loading arm to this 2009-built ship.

Coral Methane, of course, is ice-class – a strong hint that Shell will use it to supply fuel year-round in the Baltic to Sovcomflot’s nine-strong fleet of LNG-fuelled Aframaxes.

As for Shell LNG bunker-supply ships four and five? The smart money suggests Gibraltar, for the western Mediterranean, Qatar for the Middle East and Singapore for Asia.

There are now 200 LNG-fuelled ships are in service or on order. Take-up has been slow, reflecting a dearth of new ship orders.

Being the first mover isn’t cheap, or easy, in any industry. However, a new report predicts that the LNG-bunkering market is on the cusp of a boom.

Energias Market Research says the market will increase in value from US$825M last year to nearly US$25Bn by 2023 – that’s a compound annual growth rate of more than 62%. The report also expects ship-to-ship LNG bunkering to grow 56% in that time frame.

By the end of this year, five LNG bunker-supply ships will be in service around the world. A Nauticor-chartered newbuilding will come into service at Klaipeda next year and a sixth will be delivered to South Korea in 2019.

Shell’s plans for three additional vessels consolidate its leadership over a very select club.

Read LNG World Shipping’s list of LNG-fuelled ships in service and on order

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