Two more LNG-fuelled tugs on the way
Dutch maritime service provider Royal Boskalis Westminster has signed an order for two dual-fuel harbour tugs to be operated in Singapore by joint venture companies Keppel Smit Towage and Maju Maritime.
With the recent trend of reduced conventional fuel prices, moves towards more capital-intensive alternatively powered tugs (typically LNG and hybrid) could perhaps be at risk of stalling. There will always however be individual circumstances where the development of so-called ‘green’ tugs are a viable proposition and this order is an example of where port authorities, in this case Singapore, are prepared to make the financial commitments to help develop environmentally friendly harbour operations.
The two ASD tugs with a bollard pull of 65 tonnes will be capable of operation entirely on LNG fuel and are to be built at the Singapore shipyard of Keppel Singmarine, based on the yard’s own proprietary design with both vessels due to be delivered in 2018.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore are awarding a grant of up to SGD2m for each tug under its LNG Bunkering Pilot Programme. LNG fuel for the vessels will be supplied by Shell, for which two Heads of Agreements have been signed. Fuel will be bunkered through FuelLNG, a joint venture between Shell and Keppel and the two tugs will be the first users of LNG as a marine fuel in the pilot for the development of Singapore into one of the world’s main LNG bunkering ports.
Boskalis, Keppel Smit Towage’s parent company state that with a large global fleet it is constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce emissions and provide innovation in terms of sustainability and is looking to roll the programme out in other LNG ports and terminals globally. Boskalis see the use of LNG as a marine fuel for harbour tugs playing a viable role in reducing emissions that no other fossil fuel can achieve.
Keppel Smit Towage was established in 1991 and is a joint venture between Keppel and Smit Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boskalis. In early 2010 Keppel Smit Towage merged operationally with Maju Maritime, another joint venture between Keppel and Boskalis. The company provides harbour towage services in Singapore and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and has a presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and China together with joint venture partners.
Its published fleet list indicates a diverse range of around 70 tugs, the ten most powerful with bollard pulls of 70 tonnes. There are around 60 pusher/harbour tugs, seven tractor tugs, two Robert Allan RAmparts 3300AV escort tugs and two Cheoy Lee built Z-Tech tugs. Keppel Singmarine built vessels dominate the list and two notable inclusions are Sky 401, (ex Union 9 of URS Belgium) and Sky 501 built as Trafalgar By McTay Marine in 1998.
By Peter Barker
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