Shell International Trading and Shipping Co. Ltd. will begin recruiting U.S. seafarers for the company's growing portfolio of managed international liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, the company said last week.

Noting that it is "one of the first" major oil producers to actively recruit U.S. seafarers for LNG vessels, Shell said it is committed to securing the most qualified seafarers for its maritime fleet operations and the United States offers an exceptional skill pool, particularly for LNG vessels.

"The recruitment drive also provides an excellent opportunity for American mariners to enhance their careers through Shell's international businesses and domestic joint ventures, such as Broadwater Energy LLC in Long Island Sound," said Bob Salmon, general manager of shipping for Shell Trading (US) Co.

Over the last few years Shell has been increasing its vessel management portfolio. In November 2006 Nakilat Shipping (Qatar) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qatar Gas Transport Company Ltd. (Nakilat), formalized an agreement with Shell to provide shipping and maritime services to Nakilat's fleet of 25 new-build LNG carriers.

"The addition of U.S. mariners will positively enhance Shell's diverse seafarer skill pool and provide Shell and Nakilat with highly experienced personnel for their LNG fleets. We're excited to work with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Marine Administration (MARAD) and the U.S. maritime unions to encourage the use of U.S. officers in the LNG industry," said Salmon.

Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton said Shell's announcement coincides with a universal training standards agreement facilitated recently by the Maritime Administration.

"The growing worldwide demand in the LNG industry, including domestic proposals like Broadwater, creates a significant opportunity for U.S. mariners, the U.S. maritime industry and coastal communities throughout the country," said Connaughton.

The proposed Broadwater offshore terminal would have an average sendout capacity of 1 Bcf/d and peak sendout of 1.25 Bcf/d. Broadwater Energy, a partnership of Shell Oil and TransCanada Corp., would operate the facility, while Shell would own the capacity and supply the LNG. The project, which is targeted for service in December 2010, would cost approximately $700 million to build (see NGI, Jan. 14).

Shell noted that it currently employs more than 500 fleet marine officers with LNG experience around the world and is looking to further expand its skills base with U.S. mariners in the rapidly growing field of LNG shipping.

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