Bay of Biscay's first ship-to-ship LNG bunker delivery performed in Bilbao

MV Ireland supplied with LNG in landmark delivery organized by Itsas Gas.

Bilbao's first ship-to-ship LNG bunker operation was performed on February 3, 2018, with the Oizmendi's delivery to the MV Ireland. Image credit: Port of Bilbao

Updated on 05 Feb 2018 14:45 GMT

The Spanish port of Bilbao on Saturday witnessed its first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operation during a pilot test delivery carried out by the Oizmendi to the dry cargo vessel MV Ireland.

During the operation, 90 cubic metres (cbm) of LNG were transferred from the remodelled Oizmendi to the cement carrier Ireland in an operation organized by Itsas Gas Bunker Supply SL, owner of the supply vessel.

Commenting on the landmark delivery, Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development and Infrastructure, said the new supply service "positions us as a European reference point in terms of sustainable transport at sea".

The Oizmendi, formerly called Monte Arucas, has had to undergo a significant transformation in order to be able to hold two large 300-cbm LNG tanks in addition to its conventional fuel oil tanks.

The previously reported project to convert the double-hull Oizmendi took seven months to complete at the Murueta shipyard, with Itsas Gas investing EUR 5.5 million.

The Basque Country currently has three key LNG projects that will receive funding from the European Commission through the Core LNGas Hive project, with Brussels contributing EUR 4.85 million of the EUR 9.7 million initially invested by Itsas Gas and its partners.

The three initiatives are:

- The adaptation of Bahia de Bizkaia Gas's (BBG) regasification plant so that small vessels can load LNG (completed).

- The launch of an LNG supply vessel capable of performing ship-to-ship deliveries both in-port and off port limits (OPL) (completed).

- Construction and launch of an LNG-fuelled tugboat. The project is being led by Grupo Financiero Ibaizabal, with construction expected to begin in 2018.

The Ireland was the first vessel to ever be bunkered in Bilbao with LNG in April 2017 via a truck-to-ship operation carried out by Molgas Energia.

The Ireland is operated by JT Cement, a joint venture between Erik Thun AB and KG Jebsen Cement.