Conrad Shipyard to build first LNG bunker barge in U.S.

FEBRUARY 25, 2015—It was an historic day for the U.S. maritime industry as Conrad Orange Shipyard, Inc., Orange, TX, a division of Conrad Shipyard, LLC, Morgan City, LA, signed a contract with WesPac Midstream LLC (WesPac), Irvine, CA, to build the first dedicated LNG bunker barge for the marine market in North America.

Plans call for the 2,200 m3 capacity barge to be delivered in early 2016, initially operating in Tacoma, WA, to service shipowner Totem Ocean Trailer Express’s Orca class RO/RO vessels, in addition to other LNG-powered vessels. The Orca Class vessels are being converted to burn LNG, as well as marine diesel with Wartsila dual fuel engines.

Following initial deployment, the bunker barge will be relocated to Jacksonville, FL, to serve TOTE’s 3,100-TEU Marlin Class container ships being built by GD-NASSCO in San Diego, CA. The barge is also expected to service other LNG-powered vessels that call at the port.

The LNG barge will feature a tank equipped with MARK III Flex cargo containment technology, supplied by GTT (Gaztransport & Technigaz) that will be built by Conrad Orange Shipyard under GTT license. Additionally, the barge is also intended to feature the innovative bunker mast design, REACH4 (Refueling Equipment Arm, Methane [CH4]) developed by GTT, to ensure a simple and safe transfer of LNG fuel to the vessel.

GTT North America Chairman Allyn Risley, says, “GTTNA is very pleased to be involved in this collaboration and the first LNG bunker barge in North America, particularly as part of the formation of the local LNG supply chain. This first order in the U.S. since the 1970’s is a major milestone for GTTNA, demonstrating that GTT’s proven leading-edge technology is perfectly suited and efficient for small applications.”

In addition, Johnny Conrad, Chairman and CEO of Conrad Shipyard, LLC, says,“Conrad is pleased to be part of a team that has brought this project to fruition. Conrad would like to express its thanks to Wespac Midstream for choosing Conrad and GTT as its partner in this venture.”

The barge is being designed by Bristol Harbor Group, Inc., Bristol, RI, and classed by the American Bureau for Shipping (ABS).

 WesPac worked with its affiliate Clean Marine Energy (CME), South Norwalk, CT, on developing the bunker barge project.

 This initial bunker barge for TOTE is part of the WesPac/CME plan to provide an integrated LNG solution for engine conversion, infrastructure, supply, and delivery logistics to the shipping industry. As more U.S. Jones Act shipowners and operators seek to meet stringent 0.1 percent sulfur limits within ECAs by converting to LNG as a cleaner bunker fuel, WesPac/CME plans to exercise its options with Conrad to construct additional LNG fueling barges to serve other North American ports.

 CME CEO Pace Ralli, CEO, says, “A comprehensive LNG supply and distribution network for the marine market in North America is critical for the shipping industry. Today’s announcement shows that WesPac/CME is taking the necessary steps to complete the LNG supply chain so ship owners can be assured LNG will be available when and where it is needed.”

Peter Keller, EVP of TOTE, stated: “ This sophisticated new barge,constructed by Conrad and utilizing GTT membrane technology, will serve both our Orca class vessels as they are converted to LNG and the Marlins, the world’s first LNG dual fueled container vessels. TOTE is committed to caring for the environment and the communities we serve and this barge will enable us to supply our ships with LNG, a cleaner alternative fuel.”

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