Saturday, March 2, 2013

Container Ports Have a Major Influence on LNG Uptake of Shipping and Road Haulage Freight Groups

Across Europe and the US Fuels they are a Changing as Trucks and Merchant Vessels Adapt
Shipping News Feature

US – EUROPE – In the EU the recent commitment to opening up both the shipping and road haulage industries to cleaner power sources which we covered in some detail in our article last month has been reinforced by one of the world’s premier container and general shipping ports with the announcement that the Port of Rotterdam is stepping up its sustainable shipping policy by rewarding the operators of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tankers with a discount on port charges. Meanwhile an American freight haulier is spearheading LNG truck rollout in California.

In the Netherlands the Gate terminal officially opened to receive the new LNG vessels in September 2011 and the sector is the only real growth area for the world’s shipbuilders in the current economic climate. Rotterdam has been in the forefront of the world’s ports to reward vessels which carry a Green Award, meaning they have been certified as operating with materially improved safety and environmental standards by the Green Award Foundation. The certification applies to oil tankers, chemical tankers and dry bulk freighters from 20.000 DWT and upwards plus inland navigation vessels and, more recently LNG carriers.

An increasing and regular supply of LNG will be essential to European plans to roll out not just more fuelling stations for passenger and commercial vehicles but to encourage the development of the proposed bunkering network to power the next generation of cleaner, ocean going vessels of all types.

Across the Atlantic the strife which we witnessed a few years ago at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as Californian’s demanded cleaner transport methods both at sea and by road is long over and the more Southerly of the two has always been a little in front of the game, settling with the haulage unions relatively painlessly in the matter of truck pollution and its uptake of new cleaner technology. Now once again Long Beach is the scene of a new environmental initiative leading the charge for greener transport options as YRC Worldwide subsidiary, YRC Freight, commits to a test of LNG vehicles.

The Kansas based group has reached an agreement with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to purchase four liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks to operate in Southern California. The trucks will serve the Port of Long Beach itself and other surrounding areas and, if successful, YRC views this pilot project as an entry point into a market that will see a roll out of the Clean Energy groups fuelling infrastructure in Southern California. The LNG trucks will be operated by long-tenured YRC Freight drivers and results of the pilot will be analyzed by the company’s maintenance, fuel and operations teams. Jeff Rogers, president of YRC Freight, clarified the company position saying:

“We are eager to test natural gas trucks in the Southern California area and see how they perform within our network. The LNG project will build on our sustainability initiatives, including our ongoing network optimization that is engineered to provide the highest quality customer service in the most efficient manner possible. My thanks to the Clean Energy team for bringing their industry expertise to the table and helping to make this happen.”

As part of the EPA’s exemplary SmartWay voluntary emissions reduction program (and a past winner of its Environmental Excellence Award) YRC Freight has also been conducting a pilot project with diesel electric hybrids in the Northeast, but the partnership with Clean Energy Fuels is seen as another step in a long term emissions and fuel reduction strategy which already entails speed reduction, idling limitation and testing of biofuels. James N. Harger, chief marketing officer at Clean Energy was clearly pleased by the opportunity to demonstrate LNG saying:

“We are very excited to partner with a leader like YRC Freight on their LNG truck pilot project. Through the benefits to their bottom line and to the cleaner air for future generations, we’re confident that YRC Freight will become the latest enthusiast for natural gas as the fuel of choice.”

Photo: Gate Terminal, Rotterdam.