New Fortress Energy (NFE) plans to offer ship refuelling services from its Old Harbour regasification plant that is to be developed, starting next month.
At the same time, New Fortress will supply liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to initially power one-third of the delivery fleet for cooking gas company IGL Limited, a first for Jamaica.
IGL acquired three trailers that are built to run on LNG, which will be supplied with fuel by New Fortress. The gas distributor will make a decision whether to add more LNG trailers to its fleet in the coming months.
New Fortress Chairman Wes Edens, while applauding the IGL initiative, said LNG is a well-established fuel, with two-thirds of buses in the United States running on it. Eden then noted that for Jamaica, shipping was the next growth frontier for his operation.
He said a minority of new shipping vessels are powered by LNG, creating an opportunity when paired with pending regulations for ships entering the US to run on low-sulphur diesel.
“We want to make Jamaica a hub for LNG for the region, not only for the power and transportation that is on the island, but also transportation that surrounds the island,” Edens said.
New Fortress, an American company, is laying the groundwork for new business in the countdown to the formal adoption of a new set of rules later this month by the International Maritime Organization, which would impose a new limit on the levels of permissible sulphur in diesel-powered ships, cutting emission from 3.5 to 0.5 per cent in two years.
By 2020, Eden said the US will bar the entry of ships into its waters with high levels of sulphur, creating an opportunity for LNG-powered ships. Already, a sizeable minority are being constructed for cruise and cargo usage.
Edens reasoned that Jamaica will be a pivotal landscape as the shift to natural gas-powered ships takes hold.
New Fortress aims to commission its terminal under development off the coast of Old Harbour by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
The terminal will pump LNG to the Old Harbour power-generating plant being developed by electricity utility Jamaica Public Service Company, and would also supply LNG to bauxite/alumina operations at Jamalco.
New Fortress already provides LNG to JPS’s Bogue power plant in Montego Bay.
Altogether, the LNG investments by various private-sector players will hover at US$1 billion by 2019, New Fortress personnel told the Financial Gleaner.
The ship-fuelling plan would target both cargo and cruise vessels. New Fortress’ terminal will have a stationary vessel off the coast of Old Harbour that will connect to an extended line or cable a few kilometres offshore. The vessel would pump LNG to ships via the cable. Additionally, ships working on behalf of the terminal would connect to the stationary vessel, fill up with LNG and refuel other ships in the area or in neighbouring islands.
New Fortress already transfers LNG from large vessels to smaller ships in Montego Bay, a NFE spokesman said.