Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday that it has signed a contract for the charter of two newbuild LNG-powered tank barges that will operate along the river Rhine starting in 2013.
The new 100% LNG powered barges will be the first such vessels for Shell and for the inland marine industry as a whole, Shell says. The 110 m long vessels are being built at Peters Shipyards in the Netherlands and will be operated by Interstream Barging (ISB). The tank barges will operate in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.
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“Shell sees real growth opportunities for LNG as a fuel in coastal and inland shipping in Europe,” said Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, Shell Vice President for Shipping, who yesterday marked the start of the barge construction when he laid the keel. “LNG can help shipping operators meet strict emissions standards, such as those that are due to apply on the Rhine.”
Shell says that the barges will carry enough LNG in its two stern-mounted 40-cbm tanks to sail for up to seven days – from Rotterdam to Basel and back – without refueling. Unlike many traditional barges, the bridge / wheelhouse is at the front of the ship enabling better trim, more efficient movement through water and potentially better safety.
As Tradewinds points out, Rotterdam has no LNG bunkering facilities at this time although its port authority is working on plans to grow these activities. “At this stage we intend to refuel the barges using trucks at the Seine harbour at Rotterdam,” a Shell’s spokeswoman told Tradewinds. “The supply will come from third party contractual supply agreements.”