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Thursday, December 10, 2020 

Naval architect C-Job regards LNG as a vital stepping stone between old and the new in fuel terms, that is to say the 'mid-term' solution between diesel and the clean fuels of the future.

With this in mind, the company has investigated what it sees as a lack of bunkering infrastructure which is still holding up the wider adoption of natural gas as fuel. One potential solution to this is to have small-scale LNG bunker vessels operating in and between ports.

Nikos Papapanagiotou, GM C-Job said: “It is an idea that started a few years ago, back when the only LNG carriers were the massive ocean-going ships. However, a small-scale LNG bunker vessel can solve the problem that lots of ports do not have their own LNG infrastructure. It is still a relatively new idea – today there are only about 15 small LNG bunker vessels in the world – but we can contribute a lot in terms of ship design. We have the design experience and the R&D expertise.

“We think that 7,500m3 is the magic number of carrying capacity for a small LNG bunker vessel. This offers flexibility of operations, being able to serve ships in port in addition to being able to transport small quantities of LNG from A to B.”

Operational profile is another consideration. Papapanagiotou said: “The operational profile depends on three factors. One: where is your source of LNG? Two: the amount of LNG that you expect to deliver. And three: Will there be any periods when you will not be bunkering, due to seasonal situations, for example. Looking at these three factors helps a ship-owner determine their specific ‘magic number’."

The port where a small LNG bunker vessel would operate will have an impact on the design. This has led to C-Job’s initial design being quite short in length and wide in the beam. “It has to be able to maneuver and navigate in a good way within a port environment,” Papapanagiotou said. “And it can’t sit too deep in the water; our initial design has a fully loaded draught of just 6m. All this provides great operability. We have also thought about the wheelhouse – giving the captain 360-degree visibility, which is yet another plus point for working in a port.”

Because of the diversity of possible operational profiles, C-Job will not offer one vessel design that can do everything. “If we try to make the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of vessels, it is very possible that it will not succeed in this market. This vessel will simply not be at its optimal capacity and operability. Instead, every owner needs a unique vessel, because every port and every operational profile has their own set of parameters. We have developed a standard design of 7,500 m3 LNG bunker vessel which each client can customise to their specific needs. Both on design parameters such as length, beam, and draught but also on mission (LNG) equipment and design details to ensure the design will best meet their specific needs,” Papapanagiotou concluded.

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