June 14 (UPI) -- French energy company ENGIE said a vessel it has docked at a port in Belgium is the first to provide ship-to-ship supplies for liquefied natural gas as a fuel.
The company's Zeebrugge delivered LNG as marine fuel to two gas-propelled carriers belonging to United European Car Carriers. Bunkering, or the supply of fuel for use by ships in a seaport, was carried out at the Belgium port of Zeebrugge at the same time that cargo loading was taking place.
"The first ship-to-ship bunkering operations are a key milestone in the development of the nascent LNG bunkering market," the French company stated.
The French energy company, working in cooperation with its Japanese and Belgian natural gas transmission operator Fluxys, took delivery of the bunkering vessel, which itself is powered by LNG, in February.
With international regulations calling for fewer emissions in the transportation sector, LNG serves a unique niche.
Woodside, an Australian energy company with a strong gas portfolio in its own right, said in April the emerging markets in Asia are looking at gas and the super-cooled, highly mobile LNG as an alternative to conventional fuels. "The next wave" of demand growth for LNG may come from commercial transportation, the company's CEO said.
The LNG used for the bunkering vessel is sourced from the portfolio of the French company, which is one of the largest LNG suppliers in the world. ENGIE signed an agreement with Japanese shipping company NYK to build the LNG-powered vessel in 2015.