A unit of Atlanta-based AGL Resources Inc. and WesPac Midstream LLC have signed a long-term agreement with marine shipper TOTE Inc. to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) for two new TOTE container ships operating out of Jacksonville, FL.

AGL's Pivotal LNG and WesPac touted the deal as a sign of a shift to LNG as a marine vessel fuel in the United States. There are a number of proposals on the Gulf and other U.S. coasts for supplying LNG for marine transport, such as two Houston-based companies, LNG America and Buffalo Marine Service Inc., agreeing last fall to collaborate on applications for the high-horsepower marine market (see Daily GPI, Oct. 21, 2014).

Last September, Tenaska NG Fuels LLC (TNG Fuels) and Waller Marine Inc. agreed to develop and operate Louisiana's first natural gas liquefaction and fueling facility along the New Orleans-Baton Rouge corridor of the Mississippi River with access to the Gulf of Mexico (see Daily GPI, Sept. 30, 2014).

As part of the TOTE deal, Pivotal and WesPac are building a liquefaction facility in Jacksonville. Land has been purchased the engineering and permitting process in under way, and the Jacksonville facility is expected to be operational in mid-2016, according to the companies.

The new Jacksonville site has the capability for expansion of the liquefaction and LNG storage capacity, the companies said. They anticipate growth in the Jacksonville and surrounding regional markets for LNG as a transportation fuel.

Noting broadening markets for LNG throughout the U.S. Southeast, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the broader Caribbean, Pivotal President Steve Cittadine said the TOTE agreement signals "the beginning of long-term, sustainable relationships that support the growth of LNG as a clean alternative fuel in and around the Jacksonville area."

Cittadine emphasized Pivotal's existing portfolio of LNG assets for pursuing the wider markets. When it acquired a 60,000 gal/d liquefaction facility in Alabama in 2011, Pivotal officials touted their view of the LNG wholesale market for heavy-duty trucking, remote power generation, marine engines and railroad locomotives as a less-expensive and environmentally friendly alternative fuel to diesel (see Daily GPI, Aug. 9, 2011).

WesPac President Dave Smith called the proposed liquefaction facility in Jacksonville the first such facility to supply marine LNG fuel in North America. Smith said LNG was the "fuel of the future" for marine vessels in the United States.

TOTE plans to operate new dual-fuel "Marlin-class" container ships -- the first of their kind -- between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. TOTE CEO Anthony Chiarello said the LNG-powered ships will result in significant emissions reductions, "making them the most environmentally friendly ships in the world."