The Government of Gibraltar has announced that the energy major has been granted a port operator licence to undertake LNG bunkering at the Mediterranean hub port.
Bunkerspot was first to report that Shell intended to submit an application for an LNG bunkering licence – the move was confirmed during the Maritime Week Gibraltar conference in June 2019. At that time a legislative framework for the licensing of LNG bunker had already been put in place and a code of practice drafted.
In May 2019, Gibraltar’s LNG-fuelled power plant officially opened. Under a supply agreement signed between Shell and the Government of Gibraltar in 2016, the energy major delivers gas via ship to an LNG terminal for use in the plant which supplies electricity to the local population.
Throughout the discussions over the power plant construction, the Government of Gibraltar and Shell repeatedly emphasised that LNG bunkering would be entirely separate from activities related to the LNG power plant and LNG fuel supply at the port will only be carried out by ship-to-ship transfer.
Confirming the LNG bunker licence award yesterday (26 January), Minister for the Port, the Hon Vijay Daryanani, commented: ‘The Gibraltar Port Authority now looks forward to working with Shell to further develop the range of bunkering service as the Port of Gibraltar to include LNG bunkering.
‘This is in line with the aspiration to keep Gibraltar on the leading edge of developments in the bunkering industry and to reinforce our position as a bunkering hub.’
Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, noted: ‘I am delighted that a prestigious entity such as Shell should be operating from Gibraltar Port. Including LNG bunkering as one of the services on offer at our port demonstrates our forward-thinking approach to developing the maritime industry, as well as ensuring that Gibraltar is part of the transition to cleaner fuels and reduced environmental impact.’
The first LNG bunker supply operation to take place within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) was the refuelling of the Panamanian semi-submersible crane vessel (SSCV), Sleipnir, with 3,200 metric tonnes of LNG in August 2019. At the time, it was the largest LNG bunker delivery in Europe.
The Sleipnir, owned by Heerema Marine Contractor, was bunkered by the LNG carrier, Coral Fraseri, operated by Titan LNG.
LNG bunkering activity in the Gibraltar Strait and wider Mediterranean region is certainly ramping up. Last November, Spanish gas operator Endesa announced its intention to invest more than €30 million in the Port of Algeciras as part of plans to develop ‘the largest LNG supply centre for gas-powered ships in Spain’.
A month later, the European Commission signed a grant agreement with Enagás and the Port Authority of Algeciras Bay which will pave the way for the construction of the first fully dedicated LNG bunkering vessel at the Port of Algeciras. The 12,500 cbm-capacity barge is due to enter service in 2023.