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Titan LNG, which christened its latest LNG bunker barge, Flexfueler002, at the Port of Antwerp this week, is planning to expand its LNG bunkering supply operations in Europe.

Speaking during a webinar hosted by the Port of Antwerp today (25 March), Titan LNG's CTO Ronald van Selm said the Flexfueler002, which operates from its base at quay 526/528 and supplies LNG throughout the Belgian port and Western Scheldt, had already completed two bunkerings since its christening. The vessel will support the company’s ambition to expand its LNG bunkering offering across Europe.

As previously reported, last month, Titan LNG took the 5,200 cbm-capacity Green Zeebrugge – formerly the Engie Zeebrugge – on long-term charter – and van Selm said the barge would act ‘as a mother vessel’ to Titan LNG’s Flexfuelers. (The company christened Flexfueler002's sister vessel Flexfueler001 in June 2019.)

‘It is filled in Zeebrugge import terminal and then it brings the LNG towards the Flexfuelers, it’s then delivered to customers,’ said van Selm, who also said the Green Zeebrugge can serve as a bunker vessel to larger customers directly.

Van Selm then commented on the company’s plans to expand its operations from the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region to the rest of Europe - and pointed to the ‘surging’ number of LNG-fuelled vessels.

‘Even in the most conservative scenarios, we have calculated that Titan will need at least 10 more vessels to cater to the upcoming demand in 2025,’ said van Selm. ‘Luckily, the EU shares this view on the LNG and bio-LNG markets and has supported us with an [€]11 million grant to build more vessels.’

Titan LNG finalised the funding, which will be used as part of its Bio2Bunker project which include the introduction of three bunker barges in Zeebrugge in Belgium, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and Lübeck in Germany, in November 2020. The first vessel in the series will be the Titan Hyperion, an 8,000 cbm capacity LNG bunker vessel which will serve the ARA region and north-west Europe.

Van Selm also revealed that the company would build more Flexfuelers ‘to enable LNG bunkering in more additional seaports’.

Additionally, van Selm revealed Titan LNG had ‘plans and designs on the table’ for specific ports in other European locations – though he would not be drawn on the ports with whom the company was in discussion.

Regarding the types of vessels that would be developed, van Selm said: ‘It will be a broader range than just Flexfuelers.’

He said the Hyperion, which will also act as mother vessel, will bunker larger customers directly.

‘We also have a design for a 4,000 cbm bunker vessel [Oceanus] that can serve ports where LNG bunkering is starting and where a larger size [of LNG bunker vessel] is required than the Flexfuelers.’

Van Selm added: ‘In the future, because the range of customers is so large – you have inland waterway customers who only take 50 [cbm] of LNG [and] container vessels from Asia that take close to 20,000 [cbm] – and this whole range of customers need to be supplied with a range of bunker vessels.’

Van Selm also highlighted the role of bio-LNG - ‘an integral part of Titan’s business’ – in the future marine LNG mix, adding that the company had made ‘substantial progress on the route towards full decarbonisation’.

He said the company was due to deliver its first stem of bio-LNG ‘in the coming month’ and was seeking to take ‘substantial volumes of bio-LNG supply’ to ‘create a pan-European network’ to ‘fulfil the increasing demand for the marine industry’.

He also revealed that the company’s plans to reduce carbon from its offering was not limited to bio-LNG.

‘We are preparing for a future hydrogen future,’ said van Selm. ‘In the near- to mid-term future there will be sufficient green hydrogen available which can be used as a source to produce e-LNG,’ said van Selm.

‘E-LNG is an efficient energy carrier that can be used without any alteration in the LNG infrastructure – for example, the large-scale liquefaction plants, the import terminal in Zeebrugge and LNG-fuelled vessels will not have to be altered.’

Van Selm noted this use of existing infrastructure was an advantage that ‘no other carbon neutral fuel has’.

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