Kanfer teams up with CB Fenton to create LNG bunkering hub in Panama
By Jasmina Ovcina Mandra
CB Fenton, part of Ultramar (Chile), and Norwegian small-scale LNG sea transport and bunkering vessels developer Kanfer Shipping have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of establishing a hub for LNG bunkering and small-scale LNG distribution in/out of Panama.
The duo is now seeking a partner in the LNG trading space. As disclosed, the purpose would be that the parties define a joint venture (JV) structure where the JV will be chartering ship(s) from Kanfer, buying LNG, and trading it to the maritime industry as well as gas to power clients in the region.
Panama is a strategic location for bunkering being among the most important waterways on earth. 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.
About 80% of the conventional bunkering is done on the Pacific side (Balboa). For this reason, the parties have agreed to perform a feasibility study for a floating storage unit (FSU) of LNG on the Pacific side.
This FSU will 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.
“We are delighted to partner with Kanfer for such an innovative service. More than 90% of the world trade is moved across the oceans and we believe that it requires cleaner fuel options. An LNG bunkering and distribution hub in Panama is in line with our sustainability strategy and will add value to the trade lanes using the Panama Canal. Our purpose is to contribute to the quality of life in our region of influence, through facilitating foreign trade,” says CB Fenton’s CEO, Marco A. Guerra.
As of today, the only LNG bunkering ships available in the broader region are on US East Coast and US Gulf. Finding alternatives to bunkering in the USA will be important for the industry, the two companies said, adding that before the ships enter the Panama Canal locks, it would be more efficient for them to carry out LNG bunkering on the Pacific side.
There is an increasing number of dual-fuel ships on order standing at 857 orders confirmed. These ships will require LNG bunkering stations and bunkering vessels at strategic locations around the world.
Furthermore, seeing the increasing demand for more environmentally friendly vessels, the duo believes today’s price gap between conventional fuels and LNG will vanish.
“SEA-LNG is pleased to see the continued development of new LNG bunkering infrastructure in strategic maritime locations. In addition to the previously announced bunkering services in Egypt/ Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, Kanfer Shipping is now teaming up with partners to offer much-needed LNG bunkering services in Panama.