Column

LNG is ancient history

A column by Bas Hennissen, Vice President Industry and Bulk Cargo Business at the Port of Rotterdam Authority

Only a few years ago people thought we were a bit crazy to think that a complete logistics chain for using LNG as shipping fuel could be set up before 2016. Back then the Gate LNG import and regasification terminal had just opened and was only supplying the pipeline network with regasified LNG for energy purposes. Nevertheless, as the Port of Rotterdam we strongly believed in the potential of LNG as a fuel. The Port of Rotterdam and its partners have a long history of seizing opportunities that may seem audacious to others. We are willing to take calculated risks and we are willing to wait, because innovation doesn’t happen overnight. And just like the ancient Greeks believed in the four basic elements, LNG is also all about Earth, Water, Air and Fire.

One of the first tangible signs that the use of LNG as shipping fuel was here to stay was the arrival of the Argonon in 2011, Europe’s first LNG-powered inland vessel and an absolute pioneer in using LNG as a fuel in the small-scale chain.

Earth
Since then major steps have been taken. Rotterdam is the first port in Europe to put all the mandatory rules and regulations in place for the bunkering of LNG, both truck-to-ship and ship-to-ship. The Gate import terminal, which was constructed in 2011, allows us to import large-scale LNG. In 2013 Gate started to load vessels for re-export and a truck loading station was launched at the beginning of 2014 for the distribution of small-scale LNG by road. Recently Vopak, Gasunie, Shell and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have decided to build an LNG breakbulk terminal next to the existing LNG receiving terminal. Here bunker ships and smaller LNG tankers can load LNG to supply LNG-powered vessels and distribute LNG to bunker stations in the Wadden area, Scandinavia, the Baltics and bunker stations along the Rhine.

Water 
Furthermore, the Argonon is no longer the only inland waterway vessel propelled by LNG. The first single-fuelled LNG inland vessels, the GreenStream and the GreenRhine are chartered by Shell and sail continuously between Rotterdam and Basel. Just a few months ago, Danser’s Eiger-Nordwand was refitted with a dual-fuelled engine and Sirocco is the next LNG inland waterway vessel in line to be commissioned by Chemgas. On top of that, shortsea service provider Containerships has ordered two LNG powered shortsea container vessels. We see that more and more shipping companies are gradually moving towards the power of LNG.

Air
We are not doing it all by ourselves. We have strong partnerships with other ports, government agencies and industry. Also the European Union is on board. A subsidy of €40 million for LNG infrastructure for the Rhine-Main-Danube area and a €34 million subsidy for LNG breakbulk terminals in Gothenburg and Rotterdam have been granted to speed up the fuel revolution. With their financial aid, the market will be able to meet the 2020 emission goals more quickly, as vessels running on LNG emit substantially less nitrogen oxides, CO2 and particulate matter. This is a big winner for a healthy environment, particularly along inland waterways that pass through populated areas.

Fire
Also in terms of safety Rotterdam is leading the way. Falck is about to open the first northwest European training facility for liquefied natural gas on the Rotterdam Maasvlakte. Here firecrews, employees and members of company emergency response teams in the chemical and petrochemical industries will be able to train in a realistic environment in anticipating and dealing with the risks involved in LNG.

It makes us proud to see that perseverance pays off! Together with our partners we have been able to put into place all the essential elements in a relatively short space of time. The market for liquefied natural gas is emerging. The ancient Greeks were right to strongly believe in the four elements. LNG is in fact nothing more than ancient history!

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Would you like to know more about this subject? Please contact:

Ankie Janssen
Program Manager Alternative Fuels

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