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Shell and its subsidiaries are planning to build two small-scale liquefaction units, to bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel close to its marine and heavy-duty on-road customers in North America.

The company said the units will form the basis of two new LNG transport corridors in the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions.

Shell Oil Company president Marvin Odum said the company intends to use its LNG expertise and strength to make LNG a feasible fuel option for the commercial market, as it is a plentiful and cleaner-burning energy source in North America.

"We are investing now in the infrastructure that will allow us to bring this innovative and cost-competitive fuel to our customers," Odum added. In the Gulf Coast Corridor, the company intends to build a small-scale liquefaction unit (0.25 million tonnes per annum) at its Shell Geismar Chemicals facility in Geismar, Louisiana, US.

Once it begins service, the unit will deliver LNG along the Mississippi River, the Intra-Coastal Waterway and to the offshore Gulf of Mexico and onshore oil and gas exploration areas of Texas and Louisiana.

"The company said the units will form the basis of two new LNG transport corridors in the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions."

Shell has chartered three dual-fuel offshore support vessels (STX SV310DF), which use Wärtsilä engine and LNG system technology, from Harvey Gulf International Marine, to support its operations in the US Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, Shell has signed a memorandum of understanding with Edison Chouest Offshore companies (Eco) to provide LNG fuel to marine vessels that operate in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of the agreement, Shell will also provide the first LNG barging and bunkering operation in North America at Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

The LNG transport barges will transport fuel from the Geismar production site to Port Fourchon, where it will be bunkered into customer vessels.

The other small-scale liquefaction unit (0.25 million tonnes per annum) is due to be built at the Shell Sarnia Manufacturing Centre in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, in the Great Lakes Corridor.

The project, once operational, will supply LNG fuel to all five Great Lakes, their bordering US states and Canadian provinces and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Interlake Steamship Company, which has started conversion of its vessels, is likely to be the first marine customer in this region.

The two new liquefaction units, which are awaiting final regulatory approval, are expected to begin operations and production in about three years.

Image: LNG-powered OPVs like this will support Shell’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy of Harvey Gulf International Marine.