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Among the various methods for in-port bunkering of LNG-fuelled ships, Truck-to-Ship (TTS) transfer is currently most frequently used. With TTS, the LNG truck is connected to the ship on the quayside, generally using a flexible hose. This is today the most widely used bunkering method, because of the still limited demand in combination with the lack of infrastructure and the relatively low investment costs. For these reasons, truck-to-ship bunkering is a good provisional solution for LNG bunkering. In 2008, half the Norwegian coastal ferries running on LNG were regularly supplied by tanker truck, mostly overnight. At the moment, there is one bunker ship in operation and several are planned.
One of the main advantages of truck-to-ship bunkering is the limited investment costs for operators. The trucks can also be used for LNG distribution for other purposes.
The main drawback of LNG bunkering by means of TTS bunkering for large consumers is the limited capacity of trucks: approximately 40-80 m3. This bunkering method is only suitable for bunkering quantities up to 50 tonnes and is therefore only suited to smaller-sized LNG-fuelled vessels. Owing to the limited flow rate, bunkering takes about an hour (around 1,000 l/min). The presence of truck and bunker processes also impacts other quayside activities like cargo and passenger handling. Furthermore, a road connection with the preferred bunkering position is required, and local safety requirements need to be met, as with any bunker operation.
For capacity reasons, truck-to-ship bunkering is most suitable for smaller LNG-fuelled vessels with limited bunker volumes, like tugboats, inland vessels, coastguard vessels and smaller passenger vessels. The suitability of truck-to-ship transfer may also be influenced by restrictions on simultaneous cargo and passenger transfer. For reasons of safety, the large passenger vessel Viking Grace is refuelled by the bunker barge Seagas.
2013, Ocean Shipping Consultants (Royal Haskoning), LNG as a bunker fuel: future demand prospects & port design options
LNG bunkering already possible
LNG is currently available as a bunker fuel for maritime and inland shipping at the WPCI ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Stockholm. In addition, LNG can be bunkered at several Norwegian ports.