Conrad Industries Inc. in Morgan City recently announced the completion and delivery of the Clean Jacksonville , the first liquefied natural gas bunker barge built in North America. The vessel will enter service for TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, where the vessel will bunker two Marlin Class containerships operating on LNG fuel between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Submitted)

Conrad completes first LNG bunker barge in North America

Conrad Industries Inc. in Morgan City announced the completion and delivery of the Clean Jacksonville, the first liquefied natural gas bunker barge built in North America.

The Clean Jacksonville was constructed in Orange, Texas, at Conrad Orange Shipyard, a subsidiary of Conrad Industries, and the safe and successful gas trial execution took place in Port Fourchon, a Monday news release said.

The vessel will enter service for TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, where the vessel will bunker two Marlin Class containerships operating on LNG fuel between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Johnny Conrad, president and CEO of Conrad Industries, called the Clean Jacksonville “a triumph for the U.S. Maritime industry.”

“Conrad has been at the helm of many firsts,” he said in the release.

In addition to the vessel being the first LNG bunker barge, it’s the first time a GTT membrane system has been installed in a non-self-propelled barge in the United States and the first time an LNG bunker mast of this type has been built, he said.

“I am proud of Conrad’s commitment, investment and foresight in shepherding the advancement of LNG as a marine fuel,” Conrad said.

“The successful completion and delivery of the Clean Jacksonville is both a proud and humbling moment for Conrad,” said Brett Wolbrink, vice president of Conrad LNG LLC.

Wolbrink is grateful to be a part of “an unparalleled international partnership” comprising the owner, engineering groups, vendors and manufacturers “who made this vessel a reality,” he said.

The project also involved extensive collaboration with regulatory agencies to accomplish this industry first. Conrad is fortunate to have had a good working relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping “throughout the design, engineering and construction of the LNG bunker barge,” Wolbrink said.

Tim Nolan, president and CEO of TOTE, said the use of LNG as a maritime fuel results in great environmental benefits, including air and water quality improvements, and “this barge is the final critical component” of TOTE’s LNG program in Jacksonville, Nolan said.

Philippe Berterottière, chairman and CEO of GTT, said the collaboration among TOTE, Conrad, the myriad project stakeholders and U.S. regulators led to the successful design, construction and commissioning “of this unique and ground-breaking project,” Berterottière said.

GTT adapted and expanded its support services to ensure effective training of the barge crew and safe and satisfactory execution of the barge commissioning activities and gas trials, he said.

“Adapting to meet the requirements and fill the gaps within this growing industry is essential to continue to develop LNG as the preferred and cleaner marine fuel of the future,” Berterottière said.

Conrad Industries was established in 1948 and is headquartered in Morgan City. The company designs, builds and overhauls tugboats, ferries, liftboats, barges, offshore supply vessels, LNG vessels and other steel and aluminum products for both the commercial and government markets. The company provides both repair and new construction services at its five shipyards located in south Louisiana and Texas.

Conrad’s announcement comes just as some in Congress are advocating for the expediting of permitting for LNG export projects. On Tuesday, a group of eight Republican U.S. Senators, including Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, presented a letter urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to speed up the permitting of pending LNG export projects. The group also sought details about the resources the agency has available to accomplish that task, according to an article on S&P Global Platts’ website.

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