on Tuesday, 04 June 2019. Posted in Petrospot News

Llewellyn Bankes-Hughes, Petrospot Managing Director / Publisher, June 2019



“We need to address the lifecycle of existing assets and bunkering infrastructure. It should accelerate. The train has left the station and cannot be stopped.”

These words, spoken by Peter Livanos, Executive Chairman at Gaslog Ltd at the International Shipping Exhibition 2018, give some indication to the urgency being felt within the maritime industry over the last 18 months, as shipowners approach the 2020 update in international fuel policy.

With legislation approved that cannot be altered, maritime bosses are turning their attention to LNG fuels with renewed interest. Perhaps the most significant investment for these modern shipowners is – in the absence of new builds – the requirement for engine retrofits.

It’s a colossal undertaking in both price and labour, so it’s important to take a number of factors into consideration when booking a vessel in for a major investment like a retrofit conversion. Before signing contracts, clients should consider reports and recommendations of quality standards, time efficiency, professional experience and compliance knowledge.

Gibdock, in my opinion, is a fantastic all-rounder choice for LNG retrofit operations. A reliably high-quality shipyard with exceptional standards, the maritime service contractors in this port are a dedicated group with a strong work ethic.

The first LNG retrofits in Gibraltar have been very successful, alongside a number of scrubber refits – and the key aspect to this is a detailed knowledge of compliance with regulations.

“The first LNG retrofit was very challenging but a great success,” says Richard Beards from Gibdock, “It involved the largest 200 tonne lift we have done in the yard. The vessel is currently working out of a Spanish port and is going very well.”

More recently, Gibdock undertook a three-month project to convert theNapolesto operate on LNG which ship-workers described as “possibly the most complex and demanding [contract] ever undertaken by the yard”. The 186-metre-long vessel was the first of five ships that Baleària plans to convert to dual fuel operations.

Napoles arrived at Gibdock last autumn, with the yard having already pre-fabricated two LNG bunker fuel reception stations for later installation. The majority of the subsequent work took place alongside the yard’s main repair wharf, with some elements of the LNG conversion undertaken at Gibdock’s Panamax size Dock No. 1.

The project required some modifications to the ferry’s Deck 1 to accommodate the 200-tonne fuel tank, supplied by Wärtsilä.  Gibdock also cropped Decks 5 through to 2 to create a route through which to lower the 400 cbm capacity tank. It was an enormous undertaking, but one that Gibdock handled with both admirable attention-to-detail and on a measured timescale.

Certainly, the engineers and ship-workers at Gibdock seem to differ from many other ports in terms of the quality of services they provide. Due to the nature of Gibraltar’s size, the port does not have the advantage of economies of scale, but subsequently their focus rests on high quality and time efficiency – much to the satisfaction of their clients.

From a commercial point of view, Gibdock can attract traffic through the Straits as vessels come in for bunkering, but this has also led to a myriad of connected activities around those companies which have developed a good reputation. The port is exceptionally well placed to offer LNG bunkering but perhaps more crucially for shipowners at the moment, all the related facilities such as conversion or retrofitting as well.

“We are ready for 2020 and have the necessary enforcement mechanisms in place,” says Minister for the Port, Gilbert Licudi.

“We expect Gibraltar to show once again that from a compliance and enforceability point of view we provide the highest service to make sure our reputation for excellence is upheld. Vessels will get exactly the regulations they need when they come to Gibraltar.”