Singapore Maritime Week: Keppel O&M to deliver South-east Asia's first LNG powered tug

South-east Asia’s first dual-fuel diesel and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tug, named KST Liberty on Wednesday, will be delivered in a few weeks.
South-east Asia’s first dual-fuel diesel and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tug, named KST Liberty on Wednesday, will be delivered in a few weeks.PHOTO: KEPPEL

SINGAPORE - Keppel Corp on Wednesday (April 25) said its offshore and marine unit is on track to deliver South-east Asia's first dual-fuel liquefied natural gas (LNG) tug.

KST Liberty is one of seven dual-fuel vessels that Keppel is building, and Keppel Singmarine, a shipbuilding arm of Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M), will deliver the vessel to Keppel Smit Towage.

The 65-tonne tug was built to Keppel's proprietary design. Among other things, smart designs were incorporated to enhance the tug's safety and comfort. The LNG fuel is carried in containerised tanks on the main deck, and re-fuelling can be done by truck to ship operations, or replacing the empty tanks with replenished ones. It is also equipped with an innovative and patented LNG vaporiser that is compact and cost-effective, Keppel Corp said.

The vessel was named at a ceremony held at Keppel Singmarine on Wednesday, with Singapore's Ministry of Transport permanent secretary, Loh Ngai Seng, as the guest of honour.

Said Mr Loh: "Today's christening of KST Liberty marks an important milestone in Singapore's journey to make LNG bunkering available at our port as early as 2020... Such partnerships bring us closer to our goal of cleaner and more sustainable marine fuels."

Abu Bakar, managing director (Gas & Specialised vessels) of Keppel O&M, said: "We are pleased to support Keppel Smit Towage and the industry's push towards adopting LNG as marine fuel with this upcoming delivery of South-east Asia and Singapore's first LNG-powered tug."

Romi Kaushal, Keppel Smit Towage's managing director, said that the tug is a "much welcomed green initiative" that will have substantially reduced CO2 emissions compared to traditional tugs.

Added Mr Kaushal: "This is a state-of-the-art tug, with environmentally-friendly features that exceed the requirements of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) global cap of 0.5 per cent on the sulphur content of marine fuel that comes into force on Jan 1, 2020." Shell will be supplying the LNG fuel to KST Liberty, while FueLNG (a joint venture between Keppel O&M and Shell Eastern Petroleum), will be providing the LNG bunkering services.

The bollard pull capacity Azimuth Stern Drive (rudder) KST Liberty tug will be used primarily for towage and other marine support services, including the berthing and handling of vessels, as well as shifting of immobilised ships at anchorages in the waters surrounding Singapore.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has given Keppel Smit Towage a S$2 million grant for the tug, which Keppel Smit Towage said the full amount had been used.

The next vessel that Keppel O&M is building will be delivered in the middle of this year to Maju Maritime, said Keppel O&M.

Separately, Keppel O&M on Wednesday also announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the MPA, and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) to jointly develop autonomous vessels for applications including undertaking harbour operations.

The development and application of remote, or autonomous vessels could potentially automate operations and enhance safety and productivity, Keppel Corp noted.

Said MPA's chief executive, Andrew Tan: "Our partnership with Keppel O&M and NUS TCOMS allows us to test the operations of autonomous vessels such as harbour tugs in our port waters, as well as the interface between such vessels and our future vessel traffic management systems.

"As one of the world's busiest ports, Singapore provides an excellent test bed for autonomous systems, which will have to meet the highest standards of safety and security."

In the initial phase, Keppel O&M will use its remote vessel monitoring and analytics programme, VesselCare, as the base platform to develop the autonomous vessels. According to Keppel Corp, VesselCare is able to perform data consolidation, condition-based monitoring and maintenance, mining and analytics of vessels.

During the advanced stages of monitoring and controlling a vessel, the project will then develop a Digital Twin of the tug which will simulate vessel behaviour to optimise vessel operations using data analytics and visualisation tools, Keppel Corp said.

TCOMS, a national research and development centre for the marine and offshore industry, will also provide its expertise to improve on the predictability and control of the vessel's behaviour and response.

The MOU is not expected to have a material impact on the net tangible assets, or earnings per share of Keppel Corp for the current financial year.

As at 1.40pm on Wednesday, shares in Keppel Corp were trading 2.6 per cent, or 22 Singapore cents lower to S$8.04 apiece.