The tugboat IBAIZABAL QUINCE, powered by liquefied natural gas and diesel, is now officially part of the fleet providing the towage service in the Port of Bilbao, after the christening and blessing ceremony that took place today in the presence, amongst other dignitaries, of Ms. Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development and Infrastructure of the Regional Basque Government. The innovative design of the tugboat, the first such dual-propulsion vessel to be built in Spain, represents a major feat of engineering and an important step forward in the construction of ever more sustainable vessels.
In addition to the presence of the Basque Government Minister, the ceremony was also attended by Mr. Ricardo Barkala, Chairman of the Port Authority of Bilbao; Mr. Alejandro Aznar, Chairman of Remolcadores Ibaizabal; Mr. Juan Arana, CEO of Astilleros Murueta; Mr. Juan Andrés Diez de Ulzurrun, General Manager of Enagas; and Mr. Francisco Toledo, President of Puertos del Estado (Spanish State Ports Authority). The role of the vessel’s sponsor, or godmother, was taken by Leticia Canales.
The vessel is owned by the company Remolcadores Ibaizabal, which holds the licence to provide the towage service in the Port of Bilbao. The construction of this vessel in the Astilleros Murueta shipyards forms part of the investment plan of Remolcadores Ibaizabal in terms of fleet renewal, innovation and modernisation, in compliance with the current specifications governing the service.
The tugboat is 28 metres long, 12 metres wide, has a gross registered tonnage of 397 GT, a draught capacity of 55 tonnes and can reach a speed of up to 12 knots. The fact that the vessel is equipped to run on liquefied natural gas makes it a stand-out example of the use of clean energy for transport and the environment, as promoted by the EU through Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU of 22 October 2014 on the establishment of an infrastructure for alternative fuels. In this respect, Remolcadores Ibaizabal, Astilleros Murueta, the Port Authority of Bilbao, Puertos del Estado, Enagas and the Basque Government (through Ente Vasco de la Energía/ Basque Energy Agency), are all present in the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Call 2014 F02, of
the CORE LNGas Hive project, which aims to contribute to the decarbonisation of the European corridors of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. IBAIZABAL QUINCE is the result of a joint proposal by EVE and Ibaizabal, coordinated by Enagas as part of this programme, and is the first of its kind in Spain.
In this context, the Basque Country has already led three EC-funded LNG implementation projects in the maritime sector, all of which have enabled it to acquire a high degree of technological know-how and specialisation in this area and to position the region as a leader in this field worldwide. These projects are:
- The adaptation of the jetty of the Bahía de Bizkaia Gas regasification plant, enabling small vessels to load LNG from these facilities.
- The launch of an LNG supply vessel for a ship-to-ship bunkering service, both in port and at sea, which began operating in February 2018.
- The construction and commissioning of a natural gas-powered tugboat, led by the Ibaizabal Financial Group, which was christened today.