The Port of Antwerp announces another significant step forward in its LNG policy

Publication date: 
15 Mar 2013

The Antwerp Port Authority wishes to facilitate and encourage the use of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) as a shipping fuel. That is why the Antwerp Port Authority partnered with ship classification bureau Det Norske Veritas (DNV) at the end of January to ensure the safe and efficient bunkering of LNG by seagoing ships and barges in a busy port like Antwerp. DNV has been tasked with developing procedures for LNG bunkering operations, which are specifically tailored to the situation in the port of Antwerp. With this measure the Antwerp Port Authority underscores its ambition to safely and efficiently offer LNG to ships in Antwerp’s port by 2015, when the stricter IMO sulphur emission standards come into force.

Development of bunkering procedures

In the next few months DNV will develop procedures as an operational standard for the safe bunkering of LNG as a shipping fuel in the port. The classification bureau has several decades’ expertise in risk management for the oil and gas industry amongst others. In addition to this DNV will identify the potential risks when there are several LNG-powered ships in Antwerp and consequently several LNG bunkering operations are taking place simultaneously. The developed bunkering procedures will contain measures which ensure that the risks are acceptable regardless of the scenario.

Moreover, the procedures that are being developed for Antwerp shall be made available to other European ports which also wish to offer LNG as a shipping fuel. In so doing Antwerp continues to fulfil its pioneering role in the switch to LNG.

Construction of an LNG bunkering vessel

Meanwhile the Antwerp Port Authority continues to actively work to be able to receive LNG-powered vessels. In March 2012 it published a tender for the design and ultimately the construction of an LNG bunkering vessel. This vessel should be operational by 2015 and will be able to deal with the LNG demand of seagoing ships in the Antwerp port. Negotiations with the candidates for this sizeable contract are currently ongoing.

First bunkering operations

At the end of last year the Port of Antwerp marked a Belgian first. An LNG-powered barge was bunkered (fuelled up) with LNG from a truck for the first time ever in a Belgian port. Several safety and technical studies preceded this milestone, as well as a careful analysis of the locations, consultations with the fire and police departments and the drawing up of special truck-to-ship bunker checklists in consultation with various European port authorities. This event paved the way for the use of LNG as a shipping fuel in Antwerp, as evidenced by the various bunkering operations which have since taken place.