For South America’s inland navigation, Hidrovias do Brasil and Robert Allan Ltd. formed a partnership to develop LNG. Focused on the Amazon Basin, the plan predicts the creation of LNG river convoys and the intention to deploy the world’s first full-electric push boat.
Hidrovias do Brasil is a Latin America-wide integrated logistics company focused on waterway transport. It is interested in the transportation of wheat, bauxite and other mineral and agricultural commodities.
The first phase of the project includes the construction of river convoys to transport LNG in the Amazon Basin, consisting of push boats propelled by natural gas and cryogenic barges that hold liquids below minus 160 degrees Celsius at temperatures. The aim is to satisfy regional demand, which includes the domestic market, local thermoelectric plants, and industrial complexes with a total demand capacity of more than five million cubic meters of natural gas per day.
At present, heavy fuel oil and marine diesel oil are the most widely used fuels for waterway transport. Companies say that the use of natural gas provides numerous advantages, such as cost savings (LNG price estimated to be about 45 per cent of fuel oil’s for the same power supply) and also polluting gas emissions (25 per cent lower than fuel oil) so that the Amazon region can benefit from LNG exposure through large alternative energy transportation with lower environmental impact.
The second phase involves the design of electric push boats capable of handling barges with around 2000 tons of cargo. Innovation would reduce operating costs of fuel and maintenance by up to 20 per cent in addition to preventing the spread of pollution in more environmentally sensitive areas. According to a study to evaluate the project’s feasibility, developed by the companies, when operated only by batteries, the new push boat will achieve near-zero-emission status.
It is planned that both the electric push boat and the LNG convoy will run by 2021. The plan also involves an already under construction LNG terminal operated by Hidrovias do Brasil in Barcarena.
Robert Allan Ltd. is the main naval architecture and technological consultancy advisor of Hidrovias do Brasil, and together the companies have pioneered the use of diesel-electric push boats and inland navigation azimuth drives.