Determined to meet the high demand for cleaner energy, Crowley Maritime Corporation and Shell partnered to build and operate what is claimed to be the largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunker barge in the United States.
The vessel is meant to help speed up the process of decarbonization in the shipping industry by expanding the LNG fleet.
Crowley and Shell’s barge will be built at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It will be a flat, 416-ft (126.7-meter) long monster equipped with advanced technology and cargo handling capabilities. Its design will offer capacity for 12,000 m3 (3.17 million gallons) of liquefied natural gas, as specified by Crowley. The flexible barge will be able to deliver LNG to various types of containment systems.
As stated by the two corporations, the vessel will be the largest Jones Act-compliant one of its kind. The Jones Act is a federal law that requires all goods shipped between the country’s ports to be transported on vessels that are built in the U.S. and operated by U.S. citizens. This will be Shell’s second such vessel under a long-term charter in the United States.
The constant search for more sustainable energy sources has led to the rapid growth in the popularity of LNG in the alternative fuel market. Orders for ships fueled by liquefied natural gas continue to rise and the future bunker barge comes to meet the high demand, according to Tucker Gilliam, vice president of Crowley Shipping.
In its recently published Maritime Forecast to 2050 report, DMV states that 12 percent of the current global order book is for alternative fuels. Half of those orders are for LNG. There are over 500 LNG-fueled ships in operation and on order as of June 2021.
The largest LNG bunker barge in the United States is expected to be deployed on the U.S. East Coast in 2024.