Russian shipping company Sovcomflot has teamed up with a unit of Royal Dutch Shell for the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker fuel for the first Aframax crude oil tankers in the world to be powered by LNG.
The agreement between Sovcomflot (SCF Group) and Shell Western LNG B.V. was announced Monday.
The four ice-classed, dual-fuel Aframax tankers will operate in the Baltic Sea and Northern Europe transporting crude oil and petroleum products. Each LNG-fueled tanker will have an ice class 1A hull enabling year-round export operations from the Russian Baltic.
The vessels are expected to come into operation beginning in the third quarter of 2018.
Under the agreement, Shell will provide the LNG fuel for the tankers using a specialized LNG bunker vessel at the Gas Access to Europe (GATE) terminal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and other supply points in the Baltic. The signing of the agreement marks the fulfillment of an MOU signed between Shell and SCF in September 2015 to develop LNG bunker fueling for large-capacity tankers.
More ship owners and operators are choosing LNG fuel over traditional marine fuels to respond to sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions regulations, including the IMO’s recent decision to implement a global 0.5% sulphur cap in 2020.
“This is an important next step for gas as part of the energy mix,” said Maarten Wetselaar, Integrated Gas and New Energies Director at Shell. “We are proud to work with SCF Group to make these LNG-fueled Aframax crude oil tankers a reality. This is another marine segment embracing the benefits of LNG fuel, making it clear that LNG will play a key role in helping the shipping industry meet new emissions regulations.”
“SCF Group and Shell have an extensive and successful track record of collaboration and technical innovation, and at the heart of our joint aspirations is the shared desire to play a major role in delivering a cleaner and safer maritime environment. This is why SCF Group and Shell decided to pilot this breakthrough initiative to switch the principal fuel of Aframax tankers, the workhorse of the global tanker industry, to LNG,” said Sergey Frank, President & CEO of Sovcomflot.