Clean Marine Energy (CME) is to launch North America’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker barge in February 2016.

Construction began in September and is taking place at Conrad Industries’ Orange Shipyard in Texas.

Measuring 2,200m³, the barge will be equipped with Conrad’s custom-made 20m bunker mast, under the French engineering and technology company Gaztransport & Technigaz’s (GTT) licence, making the barge suitable for a range of vessels.

Conrad Industries president and CEO Johnny Conrad said in March when the shipbuilding contract was awarded: "This contract represents a first for our industry, and country.

"This contract represents a first for our industry, and country."

"To have the opportunity to provide a Conrad barge to such innovative partners as WesPac, Clean Marine Energy, and in partnership with GTT is exciting for us."

Designed by Bristol Harbor Group and built to ABS class, the barge will have GTT’s LNG Mark III Flex cargo containment system to be incorporated immediately after its launch.

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The hull is nearing completion and will be treated with abrasive blasting and painting in a few weeks.

Once completed in the third quarter of 2016, the barge will support a small-scale LNG liquefaction facility being built in the port of Jacksonville, Florida, by WesPac Midstream, partly owned by CME, and Pivotal LNG, a subsidiary of AGL Resources.

Among others, the barge will serve Tote’s 3,100teu Marlin-class container ships, Isla Bella and Perla Del Caribe, being built by GD-NASSCO in San Diego, California.

Image: The barge is being built at Conrad’s shipyard in Texas. Photo: courtesy of Conrad Industries Inc.