US-based maritime logistics company Crowley has announced preparations to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering services on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.

This service will follow the first authorisation awarded by the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP).

Crowley Shipping, founded in 1892, has extended its 60-year presence in South America and Panama with this arrangement.

The American-based company has stated that they aim to start operations by 2024, with current preparations starting on port-related solutions.

Crowley Shipping senior vice-president and general manager James Fowler emphasised how the Panama Canal is a strategic location for LNG bunkering.

Fowler said: “LNG is widely accepted as the most practical transitional alternative fuel for maritime shipping and to stay ahead of the rapid deployment of LNG-powered ships across the global market, Crowley is strategically growing its LNG bunkering operations across North and Central America.

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“The Panama Canal will become a key location for vessels to take on LNG and Crowley’s future Panamanian bunkering service will give international ship owners the confidence to continue to adopt LNG across their fleets.”

Crowley has stated that its energy group will operate the “innovative service” to manage the ship-to-ship LNG transfer services.

Crowley’s experience in the LNG business will be expanded as a result of this partnership. This oversees the company obtaining the first small-scale LNG export licence from the US Department of Energy in 2014 for LNG transit from the US into Free Trade Agreement and None-FTA nations.

Along with this, Crowley inked a long-term charter arrangement with Shell to manage the development of a 12,000m³ LNG bunker barge, the biggest in the United States, which will commence operation in 2024 for ships on the United States East Coast.