Barcelona LNG bunkering volumes hit record high

The Spanish port of Barcelona reported a new record in its yearly LNG bunkering volumes due to lower prices and the start of operations of the 5,000-cbm LNG bunkering ship, Haugesund Knutsen.

LNG bunkering volumes in the port reached 37,500 cbm in 2019 and 39,150 cbm in 2020, while they hit a record high of 65,050 cbm, or 236 operations in 2021.

After continued growth in LNG bunkering to ships since 2017, the increase in prices caused by the war in Ukraine substantially reduced the use of this fuel in 2022, the port said in a statement.

In 2022, the volumes dropped to 26,400 cbm of LNG and the these volumes were supplied in 32 operations.

The normalisation of prices, and the commissioning of a bunkering barge based in Barcelona called Haugesund Knutsen, has significantly increased LNG bunkering operations, particularly ship-to-ship operations, which tripled in comparison to 2021, it said.

During 2023, the port of Barcelona hosted a total of 199 LNG bunkering operations to ships, for a total of 143,000 cbm.

This increase means that the percentage of LNG bunkered to ships with respect to total fuels (mainly fuel oil and diesel fuel) at the port rose from 0.2 percent in 2021 to 5.8 percent last year.

Haugesund Knusten

In March last year, Knutsen, Enagas, and Shell completed the first ship-to-ship operation with Haugesund Knutsen in Barcelona to the 337 meters long cruise ship, Costa Toscana.

Knutsen partnered with Enagas’ small-scale unit, Scale Gas, on the newbuild that serves LNG giant Shell under a charter deal.

Enagas also operates the Barcelona LNG import terminal.

The port said that the launch of the bunkering vessel made it possible to significantly increase bunkering services to vessels, specifically Carnival’s cruise ships.

During 2023, 127,500 cbm of LNG was supplied and 66 operations performed to bunker fuel to cruise ships from the barge, a figure much higher than the 18 operations of 2021 and the 14 performed in 2022, it said.

Once LNG prices returned to normal, Spanish ferry operator also resumed supplying this fuel to its ships operating in Barcelona using tankers from ESK.

Balearia performed 133 operations and supplied 15,500 cbm of LNG during 2023, the port said.

The first LNG bunkering operation on a cargo ship was also performed, specifically on a vehicle carrier, at the end of 2023.

In addition to cruise and ferry companies, shipping companies are bringing LNG-powered container and vehicle ships into service along with bulk cargo ships transporting grain or chemicals, the port said.

The port of Barcelona receives regular calls from these ships, including some of the largest in the world, such as the 400 meters long containership, CMA CGM Palais Royal, which made the first call at the BEST container terminal on December 19.

Of the 8,783 port calls of ships arriving at the port of Barcelona in 2023, 618 vessels were powered by LNG (7 percent), twice as many as in 2022, the port said.

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