Gas imports to bunker Europe?

Posted: April 13, 2015 by tchannon in Energy


Image (c)2011 Maasmondmaritime [1]

We are told that gas is too expensive, we are told Russia is a bogey man and so on.

Then I find a bizarre news feed item linking to

Two LNG tankers set to arrive in Rotterdam and Zeebrugge
(Reuters) – Two liquefied natural gas tankers are heading towards the Dutch port of Rotterdam and Belgium’s Zeebrugge, Reuters shipping data showed.

The Arctic Voyager tanker is set to arrive in Rotterdam on April 17, while the Al Utouriya[2] should arrive in Zeebrugge around May 1.

So? Why put up a cryptic news story?

Trade journals can reveal a lot, dated 31st March 2015

New LNG Infrastructure in Rotterdam Port
Gate terminal (main shareholders Gasunie and Royal Vopak) has begun construction activities for the new LNG break bulk infrastructure at its site at the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam.

Parallel to that, the Port of Rotterdam has started with the excavation of a new harbor basin next to Gate terminal.

Digging more

Shell invests in LNG bunkering facilities at Rotterdam port terminal

London (Platts)–3 Jul 2014

Anglo-Dutch Shell said Thursday it had committed to underwrite the construction of a bulk-breaking unit at the Gasunie/Vopak operated Gate LNG terminal in Rotterdam.

As tighter pollution limits come into force, LNG is set to play a larger role in bunkering for sea and riverborne vessels in Europe. Bulk breaking allows large volumes of LNG, stored in large tanks, to be divided into manageable portions for small offtake loads.

The new LNG for transport infrastructure includes the construction of a new jetty which will make LNG more widely available as a transport fuel for vessels in northwest Europe. Shell is to be the foundation customer for its services but did not disclose any financial details.

This implies the scheme is about marine fuel. Anyone know for sure?

In a way this is a matter of concern, LNG, doesn’t really matter how gas is stored, is a highly risky fuel, fire at sea is bad enough as things stand. Contrast with bunkering heavy oil, which is solid at ambient termperature, very little volatility.

Has this really been thought through?

Wouldn’t it make as much sense to use local fracking or is this knowing full well that might come later?

1. Image colour/contrast altered and resized.
Bahamas flag, last port Norway

2. Marshall Islands registered, currently under way in Perian Gulf, out of Qatar.

Post by Tim

  1. Stephen Richards says:

    Shell have been lobbying the EU for ages. Paying large sums of money for green conferences in some pretty expensive places and inviting all the green reps along.
    Shell are big into gas. That’s why that just bought British gas.

    It is highly likely, though not certain, that shell are funding anti frackers to keep up the price of gas particularly in europe.

  2. dscott says:

    To answer the question on LNG for maritime use:


    The global shipping industry faces a challenge â-new legislation will significantly limit sulfur emissions from ships, firstly in North America and northern Europe in 2015. LNG is a potential solution for meeting these requirements – it has virtually no sulfur content, and its combustion produces low NOx compared to fuel oil and marine diesel oil. LNG is not only cleaner-burning, but may have economic advantages – on a calorific value basis even high Asian LNG prices are lower than global bunker fuel prices. As a result there have been recent developments to promote use of LNG as a bunker fuel. The scope for displacement of bunker fuel oil by LNG is potentially huge ‒ excluding LNG carriers there are currently only 20 – 25 LNG-fuelled vessels in operation – less than 1% of the total commercial marine fleet. However, LNG as a bunker fuel faces a number of challenges; notably the investment required in ships propulsion and fuel handling systems and in bunkering facilities, plus development of new international safety regulations, and LNG availability. Given the potential advantages of LNG as a bunker fuel and the pace of recent developments, the probability of LNG displacing oil as the preferred fuel will continue to increase. However, given the challenges faced, to what extent can LNG as a bunker fuel develop by the end of decade? This paper will discuss the advantages of LNG as a bunker fuel, challenges faced for widespread implementation, and the pace and potential for LNG to displace established fuels.

  3. dickon66 says:

    “We are told that gas is too expensive, we are told Russia is a bogey man and so on.” Political shell games (no pun intended) all the way down. Russian aggression and nastiness has been played up (well, at least a bit!), other countries’ interests have been played down, with the long-term political goal of changing fuel providers or dependencies of Europe. Russia will turn to China and India and Europe will shift it’s dependency to other providers.

  4. michael hart says:

    As Stephen Richards points out, it’s win-win for Shell. They were already the largest player and they have just bought BG, the fifth largest player in the market, putting them 50% more than 2nd place Exxon-Mobil. There are plenty of reasons for them to play along with most of the global-warmers alarmism, while simultaneously proclaiming their virtue above that of other fossil fuel suppliers.

    All makes good business sense.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Not just about marine fuel:
    ‘Shell opens first European LNG truck refuelling station in Rotterdam’ – 18 Mar 2015

  6. dickon66 says:

    Cheniere are looking to become a major player in LNG markets, once their new terminal comes online this year – they have stated that they have contracts to supply 25% of Spain’s LNG requirements and major amounts in the UK and Asia. Spain, meanwhile, has been reloading LNG onto ships bound for other ports as well as extending their pipelines into France and thus the rest of the EU. Spain looks to be setting itself up as an important LNG distribution hub.

  7. manicbeancounter says:

    There are various reasons for large ships to switch to dual fuel or LNG engines.
    One driver the seas around Europe are getting increasingly stringent emissions regulations. Traditional heavy fuel oil has high levels of NOx and Sulphur emissions. The other is that gas is sometimes cheaper than oil.
    The two biggest manufacturers if the mega engines two stroke engines that drive the world’s largest merchant vessels (they can weigh up to 2500 tonnes each) are German MAN Diesel & Turbo and Finnish Wärtsilä. They pages on two stroke (with short videos) are

  8. manicbeancounter says:

    It may be quite sensible to build capacity for LNG facilities in Rotterdam for strategic reasons given the political tensions in Eastern Europe involving the main supplier of gas to central Europe.
    Over on the other side of the globe Shell are also investing heavily in gas. In South Korea they are having built the world’s largest vessel – really a floating platform – to drill, refine, cool, & store gas 100 miles off the Australian coast. It is 488 metres long, weighs 600,000 and estimated to be costing Shell $10.8-12.6bn.
    This BBC report from David Shukman is really revealing. Just switch off the last 30 seconds when he gives the obligatory climate change bit.
    If this vessel is successful, there could be others on the way.

  9. manicbeancounter says:

    I have also found on Shell’s website about the Prelude vessel. It is a lot of promotional material, but is very much a celebration of pushing the technological boundaries.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    Natural gas can be run in a normal Diesel engine at about 80 % of power with the Diesel acting as a kind of spark ignition. The nat gas is just fumigated into the air intake. I found this in a Masters Thesis at U.C.Berkely Eng. library in about the 1980s. Tested is on a Nissan in line 6 Diesel using propane (that is worse for this use) and it worked well. I have also run alcohol in the same way in a Volvo Penta marine Diesel with good results. Avoid stoich. mixes and back off if you start to get ping. Not for very high compression Diesels like 50:1 and works best in lower compresion Diesels like 18:1 or so. You want the high octane rating gas to not compression ignite but wait for the very low octane (high cetane) rating Diesel injection to start the burn…

    Ships work very well with LNG as they are rarely shut down. The vent gas from fuel evaporation to keep the bulk liquid is not wasted, but burned. LNG tankers do this to keep the shipment liquid as the boiloff fuels the ship. BTW, liquid at minus a hundred or so degrees does not want to burn, so hazard is more from frost bite than fire (at the tankage). CNG is used for cars as the LNG boiloff is harder to deal with when use is intermittent.

    All in all nat. gas as a motor fuel is a decent idea.

  11. oldbrew says:

    ‘CNG is popular with an estimated 2.8m motorists in Pakistan’ – or it was until they hit supply problems.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Volvo ad: ‘By using a diesel engine instead of the spark-ignited Otto engine traditionally used in gas trucks, we have increased the energy efficiency by 30–40%. Compared with the Otto engine, fuel consumption is reduced by circa 25%.

    The Volvo methane-diesel principle enables heavy-duty diesel engines to operate substantially on natural gas or biogas. On a regional or long-haul route, this means up to 75% gas and 25% diesel. With the basic diesel engine fully intact, retaining its original energy efficiency, the truck is able to run entirely on diesel at any time.’

    Sounds like it will cost more to buy than a standard diesel (more tech) but should be cheaper to run due to lower fuel costs, if there are enough filling stations around to supply the ‘gas’ – not US petrol 🙂

    24 Crucial Things to Know About Running Natural Gas Trucks

  13. oldbrew says:

    Above post: ‘The Arctic Voyager tanker is set to arrive in Rotterdam on April 17′

    According to this report – ‘Russia’s vast Arctic gas project aims to avoid Ukraine deep freeze’:
    ‘Some 2,500 kilometres (1,600 miles) north-east of Moscow, the Yamal site — a joint venture by Russia’s Novatek, France’s Total and China’s CNPC — is eventually meant be one of the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and ship deliveries to both Asia and Europe.’

    ‘the massive facility by 2017… aims to produce some 16.5 million tonnes of LNG per year.’

    Russia might then be able to threaten to cut off Ukraine gas without scaring its big-spending EU customers like Germany too much.

  14. dscott says:

    More on the Shell floating refinery called Prelude:

    We’re gonna need a bigger boat: Shell builds floating oil refinery that weighs SIX times as much as an aircraft carrier

    Delivery date is 2017 on the Prelude to be operated off the coast of Australia. Separates natural gas from oil then liquifies (LNG) it for transport. With such a massive ship comes the need for massive amounts of steel. Sounds like a commodities play here for at least 2 years in scrap metal and iron ore.

  15. oldbrew says:

    dscott: the Koreans are building the LNG vessel. It shouldn’t need any engines or propellers – won’t be going anywhere, it’s just a giant floating gas factory.