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Brittany Ferries Welcomes Start of Construction of LNG Bunker Facilities in Bilbao, Spain

21st September 2021
LNG facilities under construction for the arrival of Brittany Ferries’ first LNG powered-ship Salamanca that will serve UK-Spain routes from 2022. LNG facilities under construction for the arrival of Brittany Ferries’ first LNG powered-ship Salamanca that will serve UK-Spain routes from 2022. Credit: Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries has welcomed the start of construction of LNG bunker facilities in Bilbao on the northern Spanish coast.

Fuel giant Repsol has confirmed the news which paves the way for the arrival of Brittany Ferries’ first LNG powered-ship Salamanca as Afloat previously reported.

Work on the bunker terminal be completed in the first half of 2022, coinciding with the arrival Afloat adds of the long-term chartered ro-pax from Stena's RoRo E-Flexer class.

Salamanca will serve UK-Spain routes and will be joined by a second LNG-powered vessel called Santoña arriving in 2023. A separate LNG bunker facility will be constructed by Repsol in Santander and preparatory work is already taking place.

Construction of the LNG bunker terminal in Bilbao represents an important milestone on Brittany Ferries’ journey towards fleet renewal and energy transition. It also reaffirms the long-term partnership between the French ferry firm and fuel supplier Repsol.

“This is welcome news and I applaud Repsol and our port partners in Bilbao for driving this forward,” said Christopher Mathieu Brittany Ferries CEO.

“The move to cleaner, green fuels relies on an integrated approach that connects vehicles with fuel suppliers and other important partners like ports. We look forward to the completion of works in the months to come and to the arrival of our first LNG-powered ship.”

The Bilbao terminal will have a cryogenic tank with a storage capacity of 1,000m3, which permits the natural gas to be kept in a liquid state at -160°C.

The flexible design of the terminal will allow it to service different vessels in the future, representing an important decarbonisation opportunity for port operations.

This project involves an investment of more than €10 million by Repsol. The Port Authority of Santander has already begun work on the second facility, on the quay where the bunker station will be located.

Both Spanish terminals are to be co-financed by the European Commission through the CEF- Connecting Europe Facilities Programme.

About LNG

LNG is a fuel which almost eliminates emissions of air quality pollutants such as SOx, and soot particulates. It also significantly cuts NOx emissions while offering clear reductions in carbon dioxide emissions when compared with standard marine fuels.

Brittany Ferries sees LNG as the best interim energy solution, on the road to future zero-emissions fuels such as ammonia, hydrogen and biofuels. Ships like Salamanca and Santoña will help Brittany Ferries reduce its carbon footprint as it moves towards a 2050 deadline set by the International Maritime Organisation.

In addition to Salamanca and Santoña, the company has just announced the order of two further vessels. These will be LNG-hybrid ships, replacing two of the oldest vessels in the Brittany Ferries fleet. They will operate on the Channel connecting France with the UK arriving in 2024 and 2025.

As well as operating in battery-only mode when manoeuvring in port, the LNG-hybrids will be configured to plug-in to shoreside power - when this solution is offered in ports.

 

Published in Brittany Ferries
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).

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