Interlake Steamship moves toward upgrading its fleet to energy efficient, more environmentally friendly LNG fuel.
The company has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with Shell to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to support Interlake’s conversion of its vessels to LNG as the main propulsion fuel. When converted, these ships are expected to be the first LNG-powered ships on the Great Lakes and among the first in the U.S. With a goal of converting the first vessel by the spring of 2015, Interlake is already working through engineering and design, seeking regulatory approval and securing financing. Shell would be Interlake’s exclusive supplier of LNG for each converted vessel.
The conversion of Interlake’s vessels from heavy fuel oil burning engines to engines that operate on LNG will require Interlake to make significant capital investments in its fleet. However, those investments are expected to result in significant environmental benefits. Interlake anticipates that the conversion to LNG will result in significant reductions of carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.
“This move takes our dedication to environmental stewardship to the next level,” explains Mark Barker, President of Interlake. “While the marine mode of transportation is already by far the most environmentally friendly way to move goods throughout the Great Lakes region, operating on LNG would further reduce our vessels’ environmental impacts. We not only respect the needs of our customers, but work to minimize the impact on the waterways which we operate.”
The move to LNG allows Interlake to use a fuel that is sourced, produced and distributed entirely in North America, reducing the use of and reliance on imported fossil fuels.
“The marine transportation industry already supports thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wages throughout the Great Lakes,” adds Barker. “We are now evolving in a way that would allow Interlake to participate in the long-term growth and economic prosperity of the region that it has served for 100 years. This move allows us to back the growing natural gas industry, which is also creating valuable jobs here in the U.S.”
Shell announced plans last month to invest in a liquefaction unit at its Sarnia Manufacturing Centre in Ontario, Canada. Once operational, this project will supply LNG fuel throughout the Great Lakes, their bordering U.S. States, Canadian provinces and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Interlake Steamship Company’s fleet of nine vessels delivers raw materials to ports throughout the Great Lakes region.