Norway-based small-scale player Kanfer Shipping is joining forces with shipping agency CB Fenton, part of Chile’s Ultramar, to establish a hub for LNG bunkering and small-scale LNG distribution in Panama.
In that regard, the two firms signed a memorandum of understanding and are now seeking a partner in the LNG trading space, according to a joint statement dated December 21.
The purpose would be that the parties define a joint venture (JV) structure where the JV would be chartering ship(s) from Kanfer, buy LNG and trade them to the maritime industry as well as gas to power clients in the region, the statement said.
FSU feasibility study
Panama is among the most important waterways on earth and a strategic location for bunkering.
Every year there are more than 13,000 ships passing through the locks of the Panama Canal and a significant number of those ships have waiting time before entering the locks, the statement noted.
About 80 percent of the conventional bunkering is done on the Pacific side (Balboa).
For this reason, the partners have agreed to perform a feasibility study for a floating storage unit (FSU) of LNG on the Pacific side.
This FSU would then be a source for smaller ships to supply the growing fleet of dual-fueled ships with LNG, but also distribute the energy to power intensive industries, power stations, etc., in Central America and West Coast South America, the statement said.
The partners said they would now work on finding a bunker trading and/or commodity trading partner and structure the project to have LNG bunkering and distribution services available in 2025/2026.
Kanfer, led by Stig Hagen, revealed in May last year it contracted Chinese shipyard Taizhou Wuzhou Shipbuilding to build two 6,000-cbm bunkering and distribution vessels.
The firm also holds an option for two additional vessels.
In June, the firm signed a deal with Egypt’s EGAS to charter one LNG bunkering vessel to a new joint venture which aims to provide bunkering services in the Suez Canal. It recently signed a deal with Nimofast Brasil to sell and deliver LNG to customers along the Brazilian coast.
“We cannot do anything about the LNG prices, but together we can reduce the infrastructure cost considerably, ” Hagen said in the statement.
He said that the company was confident that Panama would become an important LNG bunkering hub and “even though LNG is said to be a transition fuel, we will see more of bio-LNG and synthetic LNG in years to come.”
“We should even start researching for bio-LNG in Panama,” Hagen said.