SUEZ Energy North America
's subsidiary, SUEZ LNG NA LLC announced
an agreement with the U.S. Maritime Administration designed
to begin generating employment opportunities for U.S. mariners onboard liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels.
The transport of LNG between countries to meet natural gas needs
is a burgeoning international industry, with the international (privately owned) LNG shipping fleet growing at a rate of 15-20% a year.
Today, all LNG ships worldwide are flagged under non-U.S. countries. SUEZ' ships, for example, are flagged primarily under Norway
. As a result, there are no U.S.-licensed mariners on these vessels, and the U.S. shipping industry does not currently share in this growing job market.
Under the agreement, SUEZ has agreed to provide training opportunities for both U.S. citizen officers and cadets to obtain the experience and sea time necessary to qualify as LNG officers. In addition, SUEZ pledged its efforts to employ a mix of U.S. trained officers and unlicensed mariners on its existing fleet of chartered LNG vessels as well as those under construction and at the Neptune LNG Deepwater Port project