Energy major Shell has asked for offers on three LNG bunker vessels (LNGBVs) to serve in US waters and the Caribbean.

Industry sources said Shell has put out a request for quotations for two LNGBVs of around 7,500 cbm that would operate as Jones Act-certified ships in that they would be built locally and be able to operate in US waters.

The company also wants bids on another LNGBV of 5,000-cbm to 5,400-cbm capacity for deployment in the Bahamas with shipments from Elba Island, near Savannah, in the US.

Shell has not yet detailed its preferred delivery dates on the vessels but the company is understood to be offering time-charter periods of around seven years on the ships.

The move to acquire three LNGBVs for charter signals a concerted move by Shell to up its capacity in the US and surrounding area with larger vessels as brokers report that shipyards and owners are closing in on more LNG-fuelled newbuilding orders.

The energy major has already signed up to one US vessel, by inking a long-term charter on a 4,000-cbm LNG bunker barge newbuilding from Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport (Q-LNG Transport) — a company that is 70% owned by Harvey Gulf chief executive Shane Guidry and 30% by Harvey Gulf.

A computer-generated image of the oceangoing vessel — Q-LNG 4000 — which is due to be delivered in 2020 Photo: Q-LNG Transport

The oceangoing vessel — Q-LNG 4000 — is due to be delivered next year and is to be stationed on the US east coast, where it is expected to start work supplying bunkers to Carnival Corp’s 180,000-gt newbuilding Mardi Gras, which is to operate out of Port Canaveral, Florida.

Aside from this newbuilding, just one LNGBV — the 2,200-cbm Clean Jacksonville (built 2018) — is currently operating in the US.

Two of the three LNGBVs that Shell has asked for offers on look set to be based in the US, while the third would appear to be destined for the Bahamas, where it will likely serve visiting cruiseships.

Shell has an offtake agreement with the Elba liquefaction terminal in Savannah, Georgia, from which it looks set to supply LNG for this vessel.

Aside from the US, the energy giant has a raft of owned and chartered LNGBVs in Europe and is building a vessel in Singapore.

In addition, during the second quarter, Shell launched a hunt for an 18,000-cbm LNGBV newbuilding that is expected to be based in Europe. Offers have already been submitted on the unit, which is specified for worldwide trading, and the company is working with shortlisted parties.

Shell, which has consistently declined to comment on its commercial tenders, wants to see this larger LNGBV in operation by 2022.