(EnergyAsia, September 7 2012) — Royal Dutch Shell has signed to become the first customer to use a pioneering terminal now under construction in the Netherlands to store, break-bulk and distribute liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The terminal at the Maasvlakte near Rotterdam port is being developed by gas infrastructure company NV Nederlandse Gasunie and liquid bulk storage provider Royal Vopak.

When completed in late 2014, the terminal will make LNG available for distribution to marine bunkering and truck fuelling stations, paving the way for its adoption as a clean alternative transport fuel.

“The agreement with Shell marks an important step in the development of the project. Gasunie and Vopak are planning to build this independent, open access LNG break bulk terminal for the small scale distribution of LNG over land and water,” said a Vopak statement.

The terminal will receive large LNG cargoes from the existing Gate Terminal that can be broken down into smaller parcels for redistribution over land and water.

Supported by the Dutch government, the break bulk terminal constitutes the start of a small scale LNG chain in the Netherlands and northwestern Europe. It fits in the recently announced “Green Deal” for the Wadden and river Rhine area, a public-private partnership aiming to introduce LNG as a clean transport fuel for road trucks and shipping.

Eelco Hoekstra, Vopak’s chairman and CEO, said:

“We are pleased to welcome Shell as our launching customer for our joint LNG break bulk terminal near Rotterdam. This is a major step in facilitating LNG as an effective alternative for traditional transport fuels.”

Paul van Gelder, Gasunie’s chairman and CEO, said:

“With Shell we have reached a milestone in this new project’s development. LNG as a transport fuel is a solution for the transport sector which will be confronted with stringent EU emission requirements as from 2015. We aim to facilitate the break bulk LNG services as independent, open access infrastructure providers.