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Northstar Midstream uses barge to offer LNG bunkering at Jacksonville

NORTHSTAR Midstream, a company that owns half of the JAX LNG terminal in Jacksonville, Florida, is entering the marine bunkering business, targeting cargo and cruise ship operators who plan to use natural gas as a bunker fuel

Northstar Midstream uses barge to offer LNG bunkering at Jacksonville

NORTHSTAR Midstream, a company that owns half of the JAX LNG terminal in Jacksonville, Florida, is entering the marine bunkering business, targeting cargo and cruise ship operators who plan to use natural gas as a bunker fuel

03 September 2019 - 19:00

NORTHSTAR Midstream, a company that owns half of the JAX LNG terminal in Jacksonville, Florida, is entering the marine bunkering business, targeting cargo and cruise ship operators who plan to use natural gas as a bunker fuel.

Northstar has set up a new company, Polaris New Energy, which has ordered a liquefied natural gas (LNG) barge that will be built at the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding yard in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The barge is due for delivery at the end of 2021, reported American Shipper.



The barge will have capacity of 5,400 cubic metres (cbm) of LNG stored in four 1,350-cbm tanks. It measures 340 feet in length and has a beam of 66 feet and a draft of 32 feet, 10 inches.



Northstar senior vice president Tim Casey said the company plans to load fuel on the Polaris barge at the JAX LNG terminal. Two container carriers that call Puerto Rico, TOTE and Crowley, operate LNG-powered ships between San Juan and Jacksonville.



Mr Casey said the new barge will enable Northstar to deliver LNG fuel 'in both an economical and safe manner. As domestic natural gas continues to rise, LNG has quickly become both a clean and competitively priced fuel alternative. We see increased domestic industries looking to LNG as their future fuel source.'



TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico has a 2,200-cbm barge that it uses to fuel its ships, while Crowley directly bunkers its ships from fuel lines at its terminal. Mr Casey explained that many companies operating LNG-powered ships prefer to bunker from barges because using shore lines may restrict loading or discharge of cargo or passengers in certain areas on dock for safety reasons.



He said Polaris is aiming to use the barge to fuel ships in port Canaveral and the Miami/port Everglades area. He said Jacksonville is a good place for an LNG terminal because there are pipelines in the vicinity delivering the quantities of gas needed for a liquefaction facility.



Utilizing a suitable tugboat, the barge will operate as an articulated tug and barge unit. Polaris has not chosen a tug operator or decided whether it will operate a tug itself.



According to SEA/LNG chief operating officer Steve Cadden, there are 168 LNG-fuelled ships in operation today and another 177 on order. In addition, there are 141 'LNG-ready' ships, which are dual-use vessels that could be converted to run on LNG.



The number of barges used to bunker LNG ships also has risen from just one in 2017 to nine at the end of last year. A further 30 are expected to be in operation within two or three years, said Mr Cadden.


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