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SOHAR, Oman: The port of Sohar says it plans to set up LNG bunkering facilities after issuing licenses to ship-to-service (STS) providers in support of a growth in LNG-powered shipping.

Marine transfer companies Fendercare and SPT are expected to be the first LNG STS license holders. With 125 years of combined experience, both companies already operate in Rotterdam and Singapore – one of a handful of ports offering such a service according to Sohar executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers.

Sohar says it is making the move towards LNG in anticipation of new limits on sulphur oxide (SOX) emissions for ships passing through control areas in Europe and North America that come into force on January 01, 2015.

FendercareMeanwhile the European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) has expressed its concern about a unilateral move by Italy, current holder of the European Council presidency, to pursue an agreement on EU regulation for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of maritime carbon dioxide emissions that might obstruct progress on a similar initiative by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

"The stated goal of EU regulators has until now been to make the MRV the first step towards a global solution on CO2 emissions from shipping and I believe it is important to avoid any boomerang effect resulting from unilateral EU action. Co-legislators should therefore take into account ongoing IMO deliberations and anticipate the reaction of non-European IMO Parties. Failing to do so could present other IMO Member States with a de facto situation that might ultimately hamper a swift agreement at IMO level," said Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA secretary general.

Lammers added that while the shipping industry continues to explore options for reducing SOX levels in conventional fuels, many of the world's biggest shipping lines are looking to bypass costly upgrades in favor of moving directly to LNG.

He noted Hanjin Shipping, DNV GL and GTT are designing an LNG-powered vessel with 16,300 TEUs capacity to operate on Asia-Europe routes while United Arab Shipping has plans to build 17 hybrid ships — six with capacities of over 18,000 TEUs.

Lammers said new European Union regulations will also require member states to build a new LNG supply infrastructure in support of main routes by 2025 as part of a wider clean fuel strategy focused on bringing alternative fuels to its transport sector, including inland vehicles.

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