Petronet-LNG to step up 'bunkering' from Kochi

Vol 24, PW 12 (06 May 21) Midstream, Downstream, Renewables

Petronet-LNG is preparing to execute a twin strategy of increasing LNG cargo traffic at its under-utilised Kochi LNG terminal with plans to provide more 'bunkering' or LNG re-fuelling services to tankers en route to markets in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China.

Stranded for over seven years, the Kochi LNG terminal's prospects have brightened considerably following the commissioning of the 440-km Kochi to Mangalore R-LNG evacuation pipeline on January 5 (2021). Alongside more LNG cargoes, Petronet-LNG wants to revive a 2015 proposal to offer 'bunkering' or re-fuelling services to tankers and other vessels that use LNG as fuel.

"Our Kochi terminal is strategically well located," stresses a company source. "All LNG tankers sailing to eastern or northeast Asian markets pass through the Indian Ocean and need 'bunkering' services."

He adds the company will offer professional re-fuelling services through a subsidiary approved by Petronet-LNG directors on February 4 (2021). Among its services will be to provide 'gassing up' and 'cooling down' of LNG carrier storage tanks to minus 160 degrees Celsius; the supply of LNG 'heel quantity' or LNG to insulate the tanks; LNG bunkering or re-fuelling; training and consultancy in LNG businesses and other "value-added" LNG services.

Operating from an office in Kochi, the new subsidiary will be registered at Petronet-LNG's corporate HQ in the World Trade Centre in Delhi. Until now, Petronet-LNG's bunkering business at Kochi has failed to take off.

On February 24-25 (2015), Kochi became the first Indian LNG terminal to offer bunkering services when the new-build container ship KVITBJORN drew up to berth number Q-7, en route from the Tsuji Heavy Industries shipyard in China to northern Europe; KVITBJORN bought 127-tonnes of LNG from Kochi. However, a source says Petronet-LNG's bunkering business failed to find takers because of "technical problems", including problems with channel silting.

"But we are confident of finding a solution," we hear.