Construction Contract Signed for North America’s First LNG Bunker Barge

Illustration courtesy WesPac/CME
Illustration courtesy WesPac/CME

A division of Conrad Shipyard, LLC has been awarded a construction contract to build the first LNG bunker barge in North America that will be used to service TOTE’s LNG-powered ships.

The barge was ordered by WesPac Midstream, LLC and its affiliate Clean Marine Energy, LLC and will be constructed at the Conrad Orange Shipyard in Orange, Texas.

The barge is expected to be delivered in early 2016 and is planned to initially be deployed in Tacoma, Washington, to service shipowner Totem Ocean Trailer Express’s “Orca class” RO/RO vessels and other vessels. The barge will then be relocated to Jacksonville, Florida to serve TOTE’s newbuild “Marlin class” containerships and other LNG-powered vessels in the Port of Jacksonville.

The LNG barge will feature single 2,200 cubic meter (cbm) tank equipped with MARK III Flex cargo containment technology from the French engineering and technology company GTT, which is to be constructed by Conrad Orange Shipyard under GTT license. Bristol Harbor Group, Inc. will be responsible for the vessel’s design, with the American Bureau for Shipping acting as the classification society.

This initial bunker barge for TOTE is part of the WesPac/CME plan to provide LNG solutions for engine conversion, infrastructure, supply, and delivery logistics within the shipping industry, particularly as more U.S. Jones Act shipowners and operators seek to meet stringent ECA limits by converting to LNG as a cleaner bunker fuel. To meet this demand, WesPac/CME plans to exercise its options with Conrad to construct additional LNG fueling barges to serve other North American ports.

“A comprehensive LNG supply and distribution network for the marine market in North America is critical for the shipping industry,” said Pace Ralli, CEO and Co-Founder of CME. “Today’s announcement shows that WesPac/CME is taking the necessary steps to complete the LNG supply chain so ship owners can be assured LNG will be available when and where it is needed.”

Peter Keller, EVP of TOTE, commented: “We are pleased to work with our partners WesPac and CME on these groundbreaking LNG projects. This sophisticated new barge, constructed by Conrad and utilizing GTT membrane technology, will serve both our Orca class vessels as they are converted to LNG and the Marlins, the world’s first LNG dual fueled container vessels. TOTE is committed to caring for the environment and the communities we serve and this barge will enable us to supply our ships with LNG, a cleaner alternative fuel.”

In December 2012, TOTE ordered two of the world’s first LNG-powered containerships from General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, with delivery scheduled for Q4 2015 and Q1 2016. Upon delivery, the 3,100 TEU “Marlin” class vessels will provide Jones Act shipping services from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico through Sea Star Line, LLC, a subsidiary of TOTE, Inc.

In January 2013, Totem Ocean Trailer Express, also a subsidiary of TOTE, Inc., finalized a design contract with NASSCO for the LNG conversion of Totem Ocean’s two Orca-Class roll-on/roll-off cargo ships, MV Midnight Sun and MV North Star. The 839-foot ships were originally built by NASSCO in 2003 and operate between Tacoma, Washington, and Anchorage, Alaska.