Canadian shipbuilder and repair company Seaspan has inked a memorandum of understanding with energy company AES Corp on providing LNG bunkering services for vessels transiting the Panama Canal.

Inking the MOU at the LNG Global Forum in Cartagena in Colombia on Tuesday, the companies said the collaboration would also explore options to provide this and similar services in markets within the region of AES’ Costa Norte LNG terminal, which is under construction in Colon, Panama.

The two companies said Seaspan will provide its 7,600-cbm LNG bunker vessels (LNGBVs) to the new terminal, allowing them to offer LNG marine fuelling from the second half of 2024.

Vancouver-based Seaspan Marine Transportation ordered two LNGBVs at CIMC Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering in China for delivery in 2024.

AES is developing a project to offer LNG refuelling infrastructure through a new ship-loading facility that is scheduled to start operations in November 2023.

This will allow the terminal to offer a range of services on LNG, including cooldown for LNG carriers reloading or resuming marine operation after maintenance downtime.

The facility will also be able to offer temporary storage and reloading using Costa Norte’s 180,000-cbm storage tank, which will allow different market operators to store their LNG temporarily and withdraw it on demand.

Seaspan Energy president Ian McIver said: “Together, we will provide low-carbon solutions for shipowners who want to decarbonise their operations and transition to cleaner marine fuels.”

Under the new MOU, the terminal will be able to supply LNG for refuelling, either directly for bunkering or regional distribution.

“The Costa Norte terminal will enable the delivery of stored LNG to be used both for LNG supply, as marine fuel for the growing fleet transiting the Panama Canal, and for emerging markets in neighbouring countries,” the partners said.

AES Panama president Miguel Bolinaga said the industry is on the doorstep in a new era for sustainable energy.

“The collaboration with our shipowner partner and the innovations at our Costa Norte Terminal position us as leaders in driving sustainable, efficient and affordable solutions to meet the growing demands of the market,” he said.