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DNG Energy will deploy a 125,000 cbm-capacity floating storage unit (FSU) in the Port of Coega ‘in September or October’ to support its future LNG bunkering operations.

The company is currently finalising terms for the vessel, which will act as a mother ship for the company’s other LNG operations.

‘We will be moving her down to Coega – so that has now moved from a plan to a reality in terms of getting to where we need to get to,’ said Mbalati. ‘In terms of some of our NERSA [National Energy Regulator of South Africa] licences that were required, we are well on our way to fully comply with that…we should be getting our actual certificates in the next 2-3 weeks.’

As previously reported, last year, DNG Energy received final authorisation from Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) to begin LNG bunkering operations in the Port of Coega, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The FSU will enable the company to begin ship-to-ship LNG refuellings via the company’s two LNG bunker vessels.

‘We should be able to make a further announcement [on the vessels] in the next 4-6 weeks,’ said Mbalati. ‘We’ve managed to secure two. It is a short-term charter with a purchase option, so we’re buying both vessels.’

And the deployment of the vessels, said Mbalati, should enable the company to cater to an already emerging marine LNG demand in South Africa. Coupled with DNG Energy’s marine operations, the company is also eyeing land-based opportunities.

‘We secured one of the big, long-haul trucking companies [as a customer] and we are committed to five LNG trucks,’ said Mbalati. ‘We have embarked on a Compressed and Liquid Natural Gas proof of concept with partners in both the private and public transport industries. These include major logistics, busses, and taxi operators.’

The FSU will be used for filling up ISO containers which will be brought onshore to serve mining and industrial customers as well as the transport segment.

He added: ‘We are pushing as many gas molecules as possible because we want to give ourselves the maximum chance of success. They are new markets, and they take off in a different manner in terms of the rate of adoption and the volumes. We just have a simple philosophy: push as aggressively as possible and sell to as many customers as we can.’

In terms of a timeline, Mbalati was bullish about the potential for both marine and land-based LNG operations in South Africa in 2021.

‘We will definitely have large-scale LNG in South Africa this year. We are now embarking on our first small-scale LNG delivery in South Africa. We are arranging for LNG in ISO containers to come in and in September or October we are arranging for our FSU to start operations.’

Mbalati said having an FSU would change the global perception of South Africa, making it an ‘official player on the LNG map’.

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