Ship-to-ship LNG bunkering is projected to be the fastest growing segment over the forecast period. This is attributed to its advantages such as quick transfer operations and high capacity of 700-7500 tons. Moreover, ship-to-ship operations are feasible for all types of vessels. In 2017, the Port of Gothenburg, Europe, conducted its first ship bunkering using liquefied natural gas.
Offshore support vessel segment dominated the global LNG bunkering market in 2016, owing to it being relatively cost effective in terms of offshore exploration and production activities. In 2013, Harvey Gulf Marine Company invested US$ 400 million to operate and build LNG offshore support vessels and two LNG fueling docks with 0.27 million gallons of LNG storage and capacity of transferring 500 gallons of fuel per minute.
Bunkering is the process of transferring fuel to a vessel or a facility in the form of conventional marine fuels or LNG. The density of LNG is around half that of heavy fuel oil. This translates to around 1.8 times LNG needing to be bunkered to obtain same range in comparison to bunkering heavy fuel oil.
Increasing number of vessels or ships are using LNG owing to the need for cleaner fuels coupled with stringent government regulations to reduce chemical emissions. This in turn is expected to drive growth of the LNG bunkering market. For instance, a regulation passed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2012, stated that ships must reduce their sulfur content in fuel from 4.5% to 3.5%. Various end users are increasingly inclined towards replacing conventional fuels such as natural gas with LNG, given its significant cost advantage over the former. LNG has high combustion efficiency, is easy to redeploy, and is of lower volume than natural gas, translating in easier and relatively cost effective transportation and storage of the same. This has led to rampant adoption of LNG across various industries, leading to commissioning of various new LNG plants worldwide, in turn creating a highly conducive market for LNG bunkering.
Europe was the largest revenue contributor to the global market in 2016, accounting for 42.17% share. This is due to presence of largest bunkering hub, Norway in the region, as it offers over 18,000 LNG bunker stations. Moreover, rising concerns for minimizing the environmental impact and augmenting investments towards rebuilding and upgrading LNG infrastructure is anticipated to further boost growth of LNG bunkering market in Europe. In 2017, the European Union (EU) member states approved the European Commission’s proposal of investing US$ 24.18 million to support seven actions for developing efficient and sustainable transport and energy infrastructure including that for LNG bunkering.
Asia Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing market for LNG bunkering, exhibiting a CAGR of 61.8% over the forecast period. This is attributed to growing production activities in this region coupled with increasing energy demand. According to International Energy Agency, demand for energy from Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2013 had increased by over 50%. Petronas Company invested US$ 1.16 billion for FLNG project in Malaysia with a capacity of 1.2 MTPA in 2016. Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore also announced funding of US$ 1.45 million for six vessels under a pilot program in 2017, to test procedures for operations and safety protocols for LNG bunkering. This is expected to drive growth of the market.
The major players in the global LNG bunkering market include Royal Dutch Shell Plc., Skangas, ENN Energy, Korea Gas Corporation, Prima LNG, Harvey Gulf International Marine LLC, Bomin Linde LNG GmbH & Co KG, Fjord Line, Crowley Maritime Corporation, and Polskie LNG.