Spanish ferry operator and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelling pioneer Baleària is investing EUR60 million (USD70.1 million) to convert five of its existing car ferries to LNG use over the next two years.
The company, which is already having two LNG-enabled car ferries built in Italy, said that it will start to replace the engines on the five vessels this winter.
It also revealed that it is considering another two LNG-enabled vessels as part of its plans to take the number of vessels powered by LNG up to nine within three years.
The company, which claims to be the market leader on services to the Balearic Islands and also operates services between Spain and North Africa and between Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Grand Bahama, said that the first of the five vessels to be re-engined will be the 2002-built, 24,409 gt Nápoles, one of two vessels it bought from Sweden’s Stena group earlier this year. It said that the operation would be carried out during the vessel’s planned winter lay-up.
The other vessels to receive fresh LNG-enabled engines will be the 2010-built, 29,670 gt Abel Matutes, the 2002-built, 24,409 gt Sicilia, the 2009-built, 20,238 gt Bahama Mama, and the 2008-built, 24,760 gt Martín i Soler.
Baleària, which is currently engaged in a major fleet renewal programme, is also having two LNG-enabled vessels built at Italy’s Visentini shipyard, the first of which is set to come into service in February next year.
The company, which is based in Denia, Spain, is chaired by Adolfo Utar, who is also its leading shareholder.
It has been working on natural gas-related projects since 2012 and is a founding member of GASNAM, the Spanish association for the promotion of the use of natural gas for transport purposes.
Last year, it had its first LNG auxiliary engine installed aboard Abel Mutates, which uses it for navigational purposes while in port.
In January, it signed a 10-year LNG bunkering contract with Spanish energy group Gas Natural Fenosa. The contract provides for the supply of LNG to the company’s vessels in Barcelona, Valencia, and Algeciras, but there are plans to introduce LNG bunkering at all Spanish ports used by Baleària subsequently.
A bunkering vessel will be used in the Port of Barcelona, while vessels calling in Valencia and Algeciras will be served by land-based systems.