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Totem Ocean picks Keppel for RO/RO LNG conversions

Written by Nick Blenkey
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AUGUST 5, 2015 – Totem Ocean Trailer Express has signed a contract with Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd’s Keppel Shipyard to carry out the conversion of the Midnight Sun to dual fuel liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion.  The Midnight Sun is the first of Totem Ocean’s two “built for Alaska” 839 ft Orca Class RO/RO vessels that will be converted (see earlier story)

The work will begin in December and is expected to be completed in 90 days. The sister Orca Class ship, the North Star, is expected to be converted in the 2016/2017 time frame.

Each of the vessels will be equipped with four 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines and generator sets. The Wärtsilä 50DF engines have been designed to give high output combined with fuel flexibility, low emissions, efficiency and reliability. They can be run either on natural gas, light fuel oil or heavy fuel oil.

Wärtsilä is also providing the vessels with two 1,100 cu.m LNG fuel storage tanks and the associated automation and fuel gas handling systems (LNGPac).

Once complete, the Midnight Sun will emit fewer air and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions of particulate matter by 91 percent, NOx by 100 percent, SOx by 90 percent and CO2 by 35 percent.   

Totem Ocean is part of the TOTE and Saltchuk organization that will introduce the world’s first LNG-fueled containership into the Puerto Rico trade later this year.

“Totem Ocean is excited to partner with Keppel for the conversion of the Midnight Sun, enabling her to operate on natural gas” said John Parrott, President of Totem Ocean. “The removal and replacement of the four engines, adding 2,200 cubic meters of LNG capacity along with the addition of 47 kilometers of new cabling is a complex undertaking, and we are confident that Keppel will provide safe, timely, high-quality work to ensure the best outcome for Totem Ocean and our customers.”

Michael Chia, Managing Director (Marine & Technology), Keppel Offshore & Marine, said, “We are happy to start a new partnership with Totem Ocean who has entrusted us with the conversion of their first RO/RO vessel to run on both diesel and natural gas. Due to natural gas’ cleaner burning properties, more and more vessel owners are choosing to have their ships powered by LNG. Leveraging our strong track record and experience in ship modification and conversion work, Keppel is well positioned to capture this growing market to meet the industry’s needs for environmentally friendly solutions.”

Puget Sound Energy, in partnership with Totem Ocean and the Port of Tacoma, has plans to construct an LNG liquefaction terminal at the Port that will serve Totem Ocean, residents of Puget Sound and the broader transportation industry in the Pacific Northwest. This facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

In the short term, TOTE and its partner WesPac are building North America’s first LNG bunker barge to deliver fuel to the ships once converted.

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