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‘The LNG bunkering market could be a great opportunity for OLT to increase its flexibility and the commercial services offered to its clients,’ a spokesperson for the terminal operator tells Bunkerspot.

The Italian LNG bunkering sector took a significant step forward in October following the news that OLT Offshore LNG Toscana’s floating regasification Terminal FSRU Toscana had received authorisation to provide small-scale LNG services between Livorno and Pisa.

OLT, which begun operating the 300-metre-long FSRU Toscana in late 2013, claims the terminal can receive around the 90% of the worldwide LNG carrier fleet, but it has also identified the potential for fuelling LNG-powered vessels.

‘The LNG bunkering market could be a great opportunity for OLT to increase its flexibility and the commercial services offered to its clients,’ a spokesperson for the company tells Bunkerspot.

The authorisation, says the company, is also expected to complement environmental legislation such as the European Green Deal, which aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050, and a potential Mediterranean emission control area (ECA).

‘For this reason, FSRU Toscana can play a central role for Italy in supplying the bunkering industry with LNG,’ says the spokesperson. ‘Currently this service is not yet available in Italy and OLT’s terminal is the first terminal to have received the authorisations needed.’

This authorisation was by no means swift, however, and marked a five-year-long process for Livorno-based OLT. The path started in 2015, when a Feasibility Study, co-financed by the EU TEN-T Program called ‘Sea Terminals Project’, carried out in cooperation with the Valencia Port Foundation and the Port Authority of Livorno, under the supervision of the Italian Ministry of Transport, evaluated and confirmed the suitability of the FSRU Toscana. Following the positive results of the Feasibility Study, OLT started a verification process to offer, in addition to the regasification service, a Small Scale LNG (SSLNG) service through the introduction of some modifications to the FSRU Toscana, increasing its flexibility and distribution capacity.

‘These verifications, which resulted in the realisation of studies that examined the logistical, environmental, safety and safety of navigation aspects, led OLT to submit an application to the Ministry of Economic Development on 7 March 2019 for the implementation of plant modifications aimed at unloading LNG on small-size LNG carriers,’ the spokesperson for the company says.

Following the successful authorisation process, OLT was officially given the go-ahead to commence SSLNG operations and LNG bunkering on 8 October.

Of course, authorisation is just one piece of the puzzle. Will there be sufficient demand for SSLNG and LNG bunkering services at the terminal? OLT believes so. The company cites the recent LNG bunkering of Carnival Corporation’s Costa Smeralda in the Port of La Spezia, which marked the first ship-to-ship LNG fuelling in the country. In Italy, there are already 16 projects of coastal deposits planned in many ports, to supply land and maritime transport demand. OLT remains optimistic about the potential for these operations.

‘We expect an high increase in the use of LNG especially in the ship industry because LNG has been internationally recognised as the most suitable fuel to comply with IMO emissions limits and at the same time allow not to lose the technical performance of the marine engines,’ says the spokesperson.

‘Therefore, as already anticipated, FSRU Toscana, thanks to its flexibility, is the ideal candidate to serve for this scope, in terms of technical characteristics, and for its utilisation that has increased during the years reaching a very high utilisation rate in the last two years.’

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