Stolt-Nielsen Gas chief bullish on firm's future role in LNG bunkering

Firm gets ready to participate in LNG bunker market following sulphur cap 'boost'.

Andrew Pickering, president of Stolt-Nielsen LNG Holdings Ltd and head of Stolt-Nielsen Gas. Image credit: Stolt-Nielsen

Updated on 15 Mar 2018 13:05 GMT

The president of Stolt-Nielsen LNG Holdings Ltd and head of Stolt-Nielsen Gas (SNG), Andrew Pickering, has delivered a positive assessment of the company's future role in the LNG bunker market as the 2020 global sulphur cap approaches and Stolt-Nielsen embarks on the construction of vessels ready for ship-to-ship bunkering.

Speaking in Stolt-Nielsen's annual report, released on Wednesday, Pickering explained that the group's role in bunkering "got a boost last year" with IMO's decision to implement regulations to reduce sulphur content in marine fuels five years earlier than the January 2025 date that many in the industry had expected.

"This has really opened things up, because we are talking about a 200-to-300-million-tonne remarket for LNG fuel. All of the LNG tankers we are building have ship-to-ship bunkering capability, which will allow us to participate in this market," he noted.

"As a result of new regulations, the LNG bunker market is expected to grow significantly in the next four years, resulting in increased demand for the types of tanker assets and logistics capabilities on which SNG is focused," Pickering added.

During 2017, SNG contracted with Keppel Singmarine for the construction of two 7,500 cubic-metre LNG carriers with bunkering capability, scheduled to be delivered in 2019.

"On delivery, we expect full employment of both ships at attractive terms," Stolt-Nielsen said in its annual review.

Last year, SNG said it had negotiated a heads of agreement with an unnamed oil major with the intention to charter the first ship for trading in the Mediterranean, whilst the second ship is expected to trade in northern Europe.

As part of the agreement with Keppel Singmarine, SNG also has options to purchase three additional similar ships.

The vessels will be capable of operating on either distillate fuel or LNG, with a class notation and technical capability for ship-to-ship bunkering, thus enhancing their versatility.

Concurrent bunkering

As Bunker Index exclusively reported earlier this year, Stolt-Nielsen businesses Stolthaven Terminals (Stolthaven) and Stolt Tankers jointly collaborated on the first concurrent bunkering operation at Stolthaven's facility in Jurong Island, Singapore.

On January 30, the chemical tanker Stolt Virtue was able to refuel whilst berthed alongside the Stolthaven terminal at the same time as performing loading and discharging operations.

Stolthaven told Bunker Index at the time that it intended to extend the service to all vessels calling at Stolthaven Singapore for operations, whilst also stressing that it was keen to work with local bunker suppliers that were "reputable and not negatively marked by [the] industry."