Decision to develop LNG break bulk infrastructure in Rotterdam

New facility is expected to boost the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a transportation fuel in the Netherlands and northwest Europe.

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Updated on 03 Jul 2014 13:21 GMT

Gasunie and Royal Vopak have today announced that their joint venture, Gate terminal, has taken the final investment decision to add a liquefied natural gas (LNG) break bulk infrastructure and services to the terminal. The new facility, in the port of Rotterdam, is expected to boost the use of LNG as a transportation fuel in the Netherlands and northwest Europe.

Break bulk (or small-scale) services aim to split up large-scale LNG shipments into smaller quantities, which enables the distribution of LNG as a fuel for maritime vessels, ferries, trucks and industrial applications.

The use of LNG as a fuel is expected to grow substantially following the introduction of stringent new emission regulations (SECA) for the marine sector in the North Sea and in the Baltic Sea from 2015. By using LNG as a fuel, barges, coasters, ferries, as well as heavy trucks, can reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 20%, their nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by up to 85%, while reducing sulphur and particle emissions to almost zero. For these reasons, the Dutch government and the European Union have been encouraging the development of LNG as a transportation fuel.

In September 2011, Gate terminal, located on the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, started operations. Gate terminal contributes to diversifying the European gas supply by providing access to LNG originating from countries around the world. At Gate, LNG is received, stored, regasified and then fed into the Northwest-European gas grid. In January 2014, Gate launched a tank truck loading station for trucks and containers, with a total capacity of 5,000 trucks per year. Over the past year, Gate has also developed into a hub, from where LNG can be re-exported to other parts of Europe and around the world.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is involved in this project with the design and construction of a dedicated harbour basin for LNG break bulk operations and has already introduced new regulations that allow LNG bunkering for inland barges and ship-to-ship bunkering of seagoing vessels. The commissioning and commencement of the first services of this new LNG infrastructure for tanker barges and other small tankers (with a maximum capacity of 280 berthing slots per year), are scheduled for the first half og 2016. By then, a whole supply chain for LNG is due to be available in the port of Rotterdam.

As launching customer, Shell looks set to play a key role in enabling the project, which is expected to create the conditions for the use of LNG as a transportation fuel to take off in Northern Europe. From Gate in Rotterdam, it will be possible for customers like Shell to supply LNG to bunker stations in the Wadden area, Scandinavia, the Baltics, but also to stations along the Rhine, Main and Danube – thus providing a low emissions fuel alternative to transporters all over Europe.

The new infrastructure at Gate terminal will also represent an important step in achieving the goals of the ‘Green Deal Rhine and Wadden’. This partnership between the Dutch government, business and knowledge institutes aims to promote green growth. With its extended break bulk facilities, Gate terminal will be a hub for cleaner transport by road, inland waterways and coastal shipping throughout Northern Europe.

The project is also considered to be a key element to facilitate LNG storage and to secure the supply of LNG in northwest European ports, such as Gothenburg. The maritime connection between Rotterdam and this area is regarded as being part of the EU 'motorways of the sea' concept and has therefore been selected for co-financing under the European Union's TEN-T programme.