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Seapath, Pilot LNG launch JV to develop dedicated LNG bunkering facility in US Gulf Coast

With operations beginning in early 2026, the construction of the new facility will provide bunker fuel for LNG-powered vessels in the greater Houston/ Galveston area of Texas.

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Libra Group maritime subsidiary Seapath and Houston-based clean energy solutions company Pilot LNG, LLC (Pilot) on Thursday (28 September) announced they have formed a joint venture (JV) to develop, construct, and operate the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering facility in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

With operations beginning in early 2026, the construction of the new facility will provide bunker fuel for LNG-powered vessels in the greater Houston/ Galveston area of Texas.

The project, which will be developed with an initial investment of approximately USD 150 million, meets the needs of a vital global and U.S. trade corridor. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, the Greater Houston waterways generated over USD 906 billion in economic value to the U.S. in 2022. 

In addition, a 2023 U.S. Department of Transportation report recognised the Greater Houston area as the top US port by tonnage.

While LNG bunkering infrastructure has been developing overseas, U.S. infrastructure supporting its uptake has developed slower. Pilot and Seapath’s LNG bunkering facility will use their combined expertise to serve essential U.S. Gulf Coast port complexes, including servicing major cruise lines and container vessel operators.

Led by LNG industry veterans with extensive experience on the terminal and marine side, Pilot LNG is committed to delivering LNG to new and existing U.S. markets, including fuel/bunkering terminals and related infrastructure. This is the first in a series of strategic investments by Seapath and Pilot to create a network of LNG facilities in areas of unmet need in the U.S.

“Seapath is dedicated to investing across the marine infrastructure space and will provide strong financial backing to Pilot’s LNG bunker projects,” said Jonathan Cook, CEO of Pilot. 

“We look forward to working closely with Seapath to support the gradual decarbonization of the marine industry. We look forward to delivering a U.S. Gulf Coast facility in a timely manner based on the extensive development work already completed to meet the significant needs for LNG fuel, which also supports ongoing decarbonization across the industry.”

A U.S. company led by Merchant Mariners and former service members, Seapath was formed recognizing the need for critical investments in the U.S. maritime economy. The company plans to continue investing in innovative projects within maritime connectivity, industrial technologies, port real estate, and Jones Act vessels.

“The infrastructure under development will provide LNG to a growing market seeking cleaner marine fuel, particularly as customers look for economical ways to comply with tightening emissions regulations, including regulations set by the IMO in 2020,” said Seapath CEO Greg Otto.  

“We are pleased to be working with a first-class team in Pilot LNG and with some of the leading ports in the United States to bring this critical LNG bunkering infrastructure to the Gulf Coast region where there is high demand for it. Thanks to our valuable partnership with Pilot, we look forward to developing more of these much-needed facilities in ports across the United States.”

Seapath is one of 30 operational entities of Libra Group, a privately owned business group whose subsidiaries own and operate assets in nearly 60 countries with six business sectors, including maritime and renewable energy. The Group’s three maritime subsidiaries include Lomar Shipping, a global shipping company with a fleet of more than 40 vessels, and Americraft Marine, which owns and operates a Jones Act Shipyard in Palatka, Florida. Significantly, the shipyard is among the few in the U.S. to construct crew transfer vessels to service the growing offshore-wind industry and traditional inland-marine assets such as tugboats and barges.

“Libra Group is committed to advancing innovation across our sectors, from maritime to aerospace, to renewable energy and more. As a global organization, we will harness insights from across our network to bolster the uptake of more sustainable technologies to advance our sectors while identifying potential applications across our other sectors,” said Manos Kouligkas, CEO of Libra Group.

“Adoption of more sustainable fuels is critical to future-proofing our industries against a rapidly changing ecosystem. We will continue to support the transition to greener energy solutions, and we look forward to following Seapath’s work to evolve the U.S. maritime industrial sector.”

Pilot and Seapath will continue with all front-end engineering and design development for their projects in the third and fourth quarters of 2023 to file applications with the necessary federal and state agencies to permit, site, construct and operate the small-scale LNG terminal for marine fuel. Pilot and Seapath anticipate announcing details of their project investment by the second half of 2024.

Photo credit: Libra Group
Published: 29 September, 2023

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Biofuel

PIL vessel in bio bunker fuel trial transports containers with PSA Singapore

Containers, bound for Mitsui Chemicals Asia Pacific’s beneficial cargo owner, were transported via PIL’s vessel “Kota Ratna” and PSA’s coastal terminal and rail nodes in Singapore, Qinzhou and Chongqing.

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PIL transports containers using bio bunker fuel in trial with PSA Singapore

PSA Singapore (PSA) and Pacific International Lines (PIL) on Wednesday (29 May) announced the completion of their first trial of low-carbon green shipments, in a joint effort to build a more sustainable end-to-end supply chain ecosystem.

This pilot trial is part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in October last year between the two long-standing partners to collaborate on green and sustainability solutions to decarbonise supply chains. 

The pilot consists of warehouse-to-warehouse cargo flow from Singapore to Chongqing via the International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. The containers, bound for Mitsui Chemicals Asia Pacific, Ltd’s beneficial cargo owner, were transported via PIL’s vessel Kota Ratna and PSA’s coastal terminal and rail nodes in Singapore, Qinzhou and Chongqing.

Green levers utilised in this pilot include the use of biofuel on Kota Ratna as well as landside supply chain optimisation by PSA.

The biofuel used for this trial, a blend of 24% used cooking oil with very low sulphur fuel oil, abated about 100 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to planting 4000 trees, and reduced the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 84.1%.

With first-hand data on carbon emissions obtained from this pilot trial, PIL will be better equipped to assess how it can further lower emissions from its vessel operations, not just for its existing ships but also for its eight new LNG dual-fuel container vessels that will be progressively delivered from end 2024.

The PSA Port Ecosystem Business Division leveraged container barging, a greener mode of transportation as compared to trucking, to haul cargo from PSA Jurong Island Terminal to Pasir Panjang Terminal for onward shipment towards Chongqing. 

In addition, the use of container handling equipment powered by electricity and greener alternative fuels at PSA’s ports reduced emissions in the port area.

The collaborative efforts by both partners across the end-to-end supply chain translated to planting one tree for every laden container moved across this value chain.

Philbert Chua, Managing Director, Container Division, PSA Corporation Ltd, said, “The successful completion of this green pilot project with PIL is an important step forward for the maritime and supply chain sector.”

“Combating climate change is one of our urgent priorities and PSA is committed to work with like-minded partners to put these words into action.”

“This concerted teamwork illustrates a step-by-step measurable approach to further decarbonise supply chains and has unlocked opportunities for accelerated action to achieve our net zero goal.”

Abhishek Chawla, Chief Marine Officer, PIL, said, “PIL is pleased to receive promising results from this low-carbon green shipments pilot trial with PSA.”

“With sustainability at the core of PIL’s operations, we are happy to join forces with PSA as we take concrete action to drive a sustainable future. The valuable insights obtained from this trial will empower PIL to further reduce our vessel emissions in the future, as part of our goal of achieving net zero by 2050.”

“Working hand in hand with like-minded partners, we can augment each other’s sustainability efforts in creating greener shipping and providing a sustainable net zero model to our customers soon.”

 

Photo credit: PSA Singapore
Published: 30 May 2024

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Alternative Fuels

China: Chimbusco, Suzhou Fengbei Biotechnology to conduct bio bunker fuel research

Both parties will comprehensively promote the use of biodiesel in the bunker fuel market and contribute to green and low-carbon shipping.

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China: Chimbusco, Suzhou Fengbei Biotechnology to conduct bio bunker fuel research

China Marine Bunker (Petro China) Co., Ltd. (Chimbusco) and Suzhou Fengbei Biotechnology Co., Ltd. on Thursday (23 May) signed a strategic cooperation agreement to jointly carry out research on the application of marine biofuels and promote pilot projects on the application of biodiesel. 

Both parties will comprehensively promote the use of biodiesel in the bunker fuel market and contribute to green and low-carbon shipping.

Suzhou Fengbei Biotechnology Co., Ltd. has long been committed to the research and development of comprehensive utilisation of natural oil resources, forming an oil resource recycling industry chain of "industrial oils-biofuels (biodiesel)-biobased materials". 

Qin Ling, secretary of the Party Committee and general manager of Chimbusco said with the implementation of increasingly stringent emissions laws and regulations, the company is actively responding to and adapting to domestic development needs. 

“Through strategic cooperation, the company is locking in the future demand for biofuels,” he said. 

Pingyuan, chairman of Suzhou Fengbei Biotechnology Co., Ltd. said that both firms will rely on their respective advantages and resources and seize new opportunities for carbon reduction in shipping. 

Disclaimer: The above article published by Manifold Times was sourced from China’s domestic market through a local correspondent. While considerable efforts have been taken to verify its accuracy through a professional translator and processed from sources believed to be reliable, no warranty is made regarding the accuracy, completeness and reliability of any information.

 

Photo credit: Zhangjiagang Bonded Zone (Jingang sub-district) Party and Government Office
Published: 30 May 2024

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Wind-assisted

MOL to install wind propulsion system on seven newbuildings

MOL has measured the performance of the Wind Challenger on a vessel “Shofu Maru” continuously on actual voyages and confirmed Wind Challenger sail reduced daily fuel consumption by up to 17%.

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MOL to install wind propulsion system on seven newbuildings

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) and its group company MOL Drybulk Ltd. on Monday (27 May) announced their intent to install wind propulsion systems on a total of seven newbuilding bulk carriers and multi-purpose vessels, which will be operated by MOL Drybulk. 

MOL has measured the performance of the Wind Challenger on a vessel Shofu Maru continuously on actual voyages and confirmed that the Wind Challenger sail reduced daily fuel consumption by up to 17%.

The fuel saving and GHG reduction effect of the Wind Challenger depends on various conditions such as the type of vessel and the shipping route.

MOL Group will have a total of nine Wind Challenger-equipped vessels, bringing the total number of vessels equipped with wind propulsion systems to 11.

Among the seven vessels to be equipped with wind propulsion systems, six new bulk carriers will each be equipped with one Wind Challenger. Construction contracts have already been signed with Oshima Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. for three of the six vessels, and preparations are under way for construction contracts for the remaining three vessels.

In addition, MOL Drybulk has decided to install two Ventfoils, a foldable and autonomous unit for wind-assisted ship propulsion, manufactured by Dutch firm EconoWind B.V., on one of its new multipurpose vessels slated for delivery 2025 and operation under a time charter.

MOL has established the "MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.2" and has set the target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. One of the key strategies to achieve this target includes the "introduction of clean energy, further energy-saving technologies," and the group plans to launch 25 vessels equipped with the Wind Challenger by 2030 and 80 vessels by 2035.

 

Photo credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Published: 30 May 2024

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