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Exclusive: Fratelli Cosulich in discussions with international banks for second LNG bunker tanker order

21 May 2021

Genoa-based international shipping, shipments and logistics company Fratelli Cosulich Group is in discussions with international banks for a second liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker tanker order, learns Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times.

Fratelli Cosulich on 10 May officially placed an order for the construction of its first LNG bunkering vessel; a 5,300 dwt newbuilding built at the CIMC SOE shipyard in China capable of transporting over 8,000 m3 of LNG and 500 m3 of MGO for bunkering.

The USD 45 million order from the shipyard comes with an option for another sistership which Fratelli Cosulich is keen to exercise, shares Timothy Cosulich, CEO and Board Member of Fratelli Cosulich.

“This is one of the biggest investments we have ever done. Being an Italian company we had many Italian banks keen on financing this deal [for the first order] and we were positively impressed by the key interest and financial support we received from these banks,” he says.

“Further, we managed to get a subsidy from the European Union for this investment which they consider to be important and strategic from an environmental point of view. We are heartened to know there are government institutions supporting our project.

“Now, the shipyard has offered us an option to order an additional LNG bunker tanker. We are in discussions with international banks to finance this [second] order.”

Fratelli Cosulich’s first LNG bunkering tanker will be deployed in the Mediterranean due to the commercial rationale that the region will be a good market for bunkering passenger vessels – which are increasingly adopting the use of LNG as a marine fuel.

“The order book for newbuildings indicates that 25-30% of vessels on order are now either dual-fuelled or LNG-ready so clearly there is a real interest in LNG. These orders are mostly containerships, large tankers, and cruise/passenger vessels so there is already a market,” he explains.

The location for the company’s second LNG bunkering tanker, however, is still undecided, according to Cosulich.

“We are evaluating different options for the second LNG bunkering tanker. We know there is demand in Northern Europe,” he reveals.

“On the other hand, we know the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has been issuing additional bunkering licences for LNG. With the growing number of LNG bunker suppliers, we also expect growing demand; maybe there is an opportunity to deploy the second LNG bunker tanker in Singapore.

“We are an Italian family business, but Singapore is clearly our second home. We have been here for more than 30 years since the 1980’s and we will be happy to increase our presence at the Republic.”

Cosulich says his company was fortunate to have accumulated experience in the handling of LNG since 15 years ago, when the firm took over the technical management of the FSRU Toscana situated off the coast of Tuscany.

As such, Fratelli Cosulich was able to utilise this knowhow into writing their own specifications for the recently ordered LNG bunkering vessel.

While acknowledging that there are short-term and long-term solutions available to help shipping achieve decarbonisation, Cosulich believes LNG is the first step in helping the maritime sector meet its sustainability goals.

“Some companies focus on investing in long-term solutions such as hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, batteries and I don’t think this is wrong, but these solutions are not available in the short-term,” he notes.

“We cannot wait until those solutions are available. We need to start doing something and the only available solution at scale right now, allowing for significant emissions reductions, is LNG.

“We know LNG itself is a transition fuel which might have a 20-year lifespan and if we consider bio LNG that life-span might be even longer. In the meantime, we can significantly reduce emissions in the short term with LNG – that’s why we decided to go for it.”

Moving forward, Cosulich encouraged players to take action in helping shipping achieve its decarbonisation goal.

“In shipping, most of all as an industry spend 5-10 years talking about decarbonisation and the problem is we specifically spend time talking instead of doing,” he states.

“So, I think it is important we as an industry get started doing rather than just talking about it at conferences.”

Related: Fratelli Cosulich orders USD 45 million LNG bunkering vessel for Mediterranean Sea ops


Photo credit: Fratelli Cosulich
Published: 21 May, 2021

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