Harvey Gulf offshore supply vessel achieves LNG fuel milestones

3 Lng

North America’s first LNG-fueled offshore vessel is on the job. 

In February, Harvey Gulf International Marine said Harvey Energy was ready for its long-term charter with Shell. The 310-foot boat was built at Gulf Coast Shipyard Group Inc. in Gulfport, Miss. That same month, Harvey Gulf completed a truck-to-vessel transfer of LNG, the first such U.S. bunkering, at Pascagoula, Miss. 

After the bunkering, LNG trials were held for Harvey Energy, and then it sailed to Port Fourchon, La., where it’s based.

“LNG trials were completed in early February, and a Coast Guard certificate of inspection and American Bureau of Shipping classification certifications were issued,” said Shane Guidry, chairman and chief executive officer of Harvey Gulf.

The company wants to provide affordable, environmentally benign solutions to its customers. “The chief advantage of LNG is lower emissions and lower fuel costs to our client,” Guidry said. Shell has chartered Harvey Energy for five years, he said. The vessel is powered by dual-fuel engines from Wartsila in Finland.

On April 25, Harvey Gulf will begin operating an LNG-fueling facility at its site in Port Fourchon, catering to offshore oil-and-gas support vessels, Guidry said. 

The 310-foot vessel’s enormous LNG fuel tanks before they were installed at Gulf Coast Shipyard.

Brian Gauvin

The inaugural LNG truck bunkering to Harvey Energy occurred at a Pascagoula terminal owned by a subsidiary of Texas-based Martin Midstream Partners. Harvey Energy’s crew watched the bunkering, as did representatives from the Coast Guard, Wartsila, Martin Energy Services LLC, Gulf Coast Shipyard Group, American Bureau of Shipping and state and local agencies. A 12-hour cool-down on the vessel in Pascagoula achieved the correct tank temperature and pressure, Guidry said. The ship’s LNG bunkering was complete within hours of the cool-down. Natural gas liquefies at cryogenic temperatures of well below minus-100 degrees Centigrade.

Harvey is using LNG at a time when U.S. natural gas is cheap. Natural gas prices collapsed from 2010 to 2012 as fracking boosted U.S. supplies, and they haven’t recovered much. A study released in October 2012 by Lloyd’s Register in London said the adoption of LNG as a fuel will be driven by price, acceptance of alternative fuels and global collaboration. Lloyd’s base scenario predicted that 653 deep-sea, LNG-fueled ships could be in service by 2025, consuming 24 million tons of LNG yearly. Containerships, cruise boats and oil tankers are likely to be the main LNG users, according to the study.

Over the next decade, Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships will place progressively stricter limits on emissions globally. Because LNG has 60 percent of the BTU value of marine diesel, it takes about 1.7 gallons of LNG to produce the same power as a gallon of diesel. But LNG’s cheaper price and lower emissions give it an advantage, which studies have put at 15 to 30 percent or more over marine diesel, depending on prices of the two fuels.

Eidesvik Offshore in Norway already has five LNG-fueled supply vessels in its fleet of 26 supply, subsea and seismic boats.

By Professional Mariner Staff