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Cruise ship deal reignites LNG bunkering debate in Gibraltar

18 Jun 2015 10:18 GMT

GSD party's position on LNG bunkering is 'highly detrimental to Gibraltar's economic interests', says local government.



The announcement earlier this week by Carnival Corporation, the world's largest cruise ship operator, confirming that it has concluded a deal to build four liquefied natural gas(LNG)-powered cruise ships, has reignited the ongoing debate between the Gibraltar government (an alliance between the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) and the Liberal Party of Gibraltar) and the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) regarding proposals to develop an LNG bunkering infrastructure.

Commenting on the Carnival announcement, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo of the GSLP, said: "This demonstrates that the use of LNG is becoming mainstream around the world and in particular in the shipping industry.

"It also demonstrates how safe a fuel LNG is. An American corporation like Carnival Cruises would not put 6,500 passengers in a situation of unacceptable risk or danger. As a government we have already got in touch with Carnival to ensure that we see these new ships, which will be the largest cruise ships in the world, call at Gibraltar, refuelling and bringing us huge numbers of tourists."

The Gibraltar government has flagged up the Carnival announcement as evidence of a shift in the maritime industry towards the use of LNG as a fuel.

Picardo's government is looking at the possibility of establishing LNG bunkering operations alongside infrastructure for a new power station powered by gas and diesel. However, the project has drawn criticism from the opposition, which has expressed concerns about the safety of establishing LNG operations so close to built-up areas.

The GSD last week revealed a report by Lloyd's Register which concluded that LNG operations in the North Mole and Detached Mole could pose "potentially intolerable risks". The government stated that the report was based on incomplete data about its proposals.

This week, Picardo brought up the issue of the GSD's opposition to LNG bunkering, saying: "Given that the opposition have already said that they will not allow LNG bunkering or the operation of an LNG facility storage and regasification facility, which is exactly what these vessels have on board, the public can clearly see that the position of Mr Feetham [leader of the GSD opposition] is highly detrimental to Gibraltar's economic interests, from tourism to bunkering and the cost of electricity generation.

"Would he now propose to ban these Carnival ships coming to Gibraltar? Would he ban Gibraltarians from cruising on them?

"The nonsensical nature of the GSD's arguments is slowly being exposed. The danger to our economy of their opportunistic position is becoming palpable.

"The safe future of marine propulsion, power generation and bunkering is clearly in the use of LNG. That is where we will position Gibraltar for maximum economic advantage."






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