By Mark Edward Nero
Tacoma-based Totem Ocean Trailer Express has signed a contract with Singapore-based Keppel Shipyard for the conversion of one of its ORCA Class ro/ro ships, the Midnight Sun, to dual fuel liquefied natural gas propulsion.
The deal, which was announced Aug. 4, is one of the world’s first major conversions of a large ro/ro vessel to LNG, according to Totem Ocean. The work is expected to begin in December and be completed within 90 days.
“The removal and replacement of the four engines, adding 2,200 cubic meters of LNG capacity along with the addition of 47 kilometers of new cabling is a complex undertaking,” John Parrott, President of Totem Ocean, said in a statement. “We are confident that Keppel will provide safe, timely, high-quality work.”
Once the conversion is complete, the Midnight Sun would emit fewer air and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions of particulate matter by 91 percent, NOx by 100 percent, SOx by 90 percent and carbon dioxide by 35 percent.
Her sister ship, the North Star, is expected to be converted in the 2016/2017 time frame, according to TOTE.
Michael Chia, managing director of Keppel Offshore & Marine Leveraging, said that due to natural gas’ cleaner burning properties, more and more vessel owners are choosing to have their ships powered by LNG.
“Keppel is well positioned to capture this growing market to meet the industry’s needs for environmentally friendly solutions,” he said.
Puget Sound Energy, in partnership with Totem Ocean and the Port of Tacoma, has plans to construct an LNG liquefaction terminal at the port that will serve Totem Ocean, residents of Puget Sound and the broader transportation industry in the Pacific Northwest. This facility is scheduled to be complete by late 2018.
In the short term, TOTE and its partner WesPac are building North America’s first LNG bunker barge to deliver fuel to the ships once converted.