Long-Awaited LNG Bunkering Barge Arrives in Port Canaveral

Image courtesy Canaveral Port Authority

Published Mar 1, 2021 3:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The long-anticipated LNG bunkering barge Q-LNG 4000 has arrived in Port Canaveral, Florida, accompanied by its dedicated tug, the Q-Ocean Service. 

The ATB unit is on charter to Shell Trading, which holds a contract to provide LNG to a new generation of Carnival cruise ships. In a secondary role, it will also provide ship-to-shore LNG deliveries at a small scale to customers in the Gulf of Mexico, according to operator Q-LNG.

"We are working hard to deliver the kind of solutions our customers need now to help them decarbonize,” said Karrie Trauth, Shell's general manager for shipping and maritime in the Americas, in a recent statement. “LNG is an important part of the solution today, and I’m proud that this vessel will effectively double the number of LNG bunker vessels in the U.S., making it possible for us to continue to help others accelerate their own transition.”

The barge will load LNG at a fuel distribution facility on Elba Island, Georgia, then transit back down to Port Canaveral for cruise ship bunkering operations. The "Q4K" has a carrying capacity of up to 4,000 cubic meters of LNG, the equivalent of one million gallons of fuel. This is enough to refuel two cruise ships for a seven-day itinerary; after two bunkering evolutions, Q4K will return to Elba Island to take on more LNG. 

The ATB's arrival marks the culmination of a four-year effort by the Canaveral Port Authority to prepare for LNG-fueled cruise ships. It has been investing in infrastructure, training and equipment - including a new fireboat - to ensure the safety and security of the port during LNG bunkering operations. 

The first customer for Q4K's services will be the newly-delivered Carnival Cruise Line vessel Mardi Gras, which will be homeported at Port Canaveral beginning this year. The North American cruise industry is currently shut down due to COVID-19; after pandemic-related delays, Mardi Gras is now scheduled to start operations on May 29, barring further postponements.