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Shell awarded LNG bunker licence for Gibraltar port

A ship refuelling operation in the Bay of Gibraltar, a key bunkering location for the maritime sector in the western Mediterranean. Shell now plans to supply LNG to the growing number of vessels that use it as a fuel. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Shell has been granted a licence to supply liquefied natural gas as a fuel for ships.

The decision to grant the company a port operator licence for LNG bunkering puts the Port of Gibraltar at the forefront of growing interest in LNG as a fuel for merchant vessels.

One of the key aspects restricting that industry move is the low number of ports able to supply it to ships.

“I am pleased to see that Shell has been successful in its application and welcome the trust and confidence that Shell continues to place in Gibraltar with the completion of its application,” said Vijay Daryanani, the Minister for the Port.

“The Gibraltar Port Authority now looks forward to working with Shell to further develop the range of bunkering service as the Port of Gibraltar to include LNG bunkering.”

“This is in line with the aspiration to keep Gibraltar on the leading edge of developments in the bunkering industry and to reinforce our position as a bunkering hub.”

The development was also welcomed by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

“Including LNG bunkering as one of the services on offer at our port demonstrates our forward-thinking approach to developing the maritime industry, as well as ensuring that Gibraltar is part of the transition to cleaner fuels and reduced environmental impact,” he said.

When it first filed the application in 2019, Shell said it had completed more than 250 LNG bunkering operations around the world, including in France, the Netherlands and Norway. In 2021, Shell will also perform LNG bunkering operations in North America and Singapore.

“LNG is cleaner than traditional marine fuels, producing lower emissions of particulates, such as sulphur, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide, than both diesel and heavy fuel oil,” the company said at the time.

“LNG is likely to remain the cleanest, affordable alternative to traditional marine fuels available in meaningful volumes in the coming decades. It is proven, safe and has a strong track record as a fuel.”

“Many different types of ship already run on LNG, including tankers and cruise liners,” Shell said, adding that LNG-fuelled vessels were designed to the highest safety standards and subject to rigorous testing.

Plans to establish LNG bunkering operations in Gibraltar have drawn some criticism in the past, however, with the GSD and groups including the Environmental Safety Group raising concerns and seeking assurances on safety.

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