Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Liquefied Natural Gas Fuels Ever More Freight and Passenger Vessels

Latest News on LNG includes a New ISO Standard and Specialist Exhibition
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – JAPAN – Lots happening regarding Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a fuel for merchant shipping with the news that bunkering such gas is now subject to a new standard, ISO 20519, aimed at ensuring freight and passenger vessels take on the potentially dangerous fuel from a reliable source. With the practice of switching to LNG from conventional fuel oil growing rapidly, more and more ports across a range of countries are equipping themselves to accommodate the bunkering of gas powered vessels.

In April Japan will host Gastech 2017, appropriate as the country is the world’s largest importer of the gas, taking around 30% of all global supply. Japan is planning overall energy use until 2030 and LNG figures large in a country where nuclear options are now extremely limited whilst the price of the gas has dropped almost 50% from peak 2014 levels.

On the water LNG bunkering is a particular type of operation where the fuel is transferred from a given distribution source to an LNG-fuelled ship. It involves the participation of different stakeholders, from the ship-side, LNG supplier, ports, safety personnel and administrations. So what does the new ISO do for the shipowner and what areas does it cover? ISO 20519 contains requirements that are not covered by the IGC Code, the prevailing international code for the safe carriage by sea of liquefied gases in bulk. It includes the following items:

Hardware: liquid and vapour transfer systems; Operational procedures; Requirement for the LNG provider to provide an LNG bunker delivery note; Training and qualifications of personnel involved and Requirements for LNG facilities to meet applicable ISO standards and local codes. Steve O’Malley, Chair of technical committee ISO/TC 8, Ships and marine technology, subcommittee SC 11, Intermodal and short sea shipping, and Convener of TC 8 working group WG 8 that developed the standard, explains:

“The requirements of ISO 20519 can be incorporated as a management objective into existing management programmes and provide verifiable compliance. [This is important] because the requirement to comply with ISO standards is often incorporated into business contracts and may also be referenced by local regulations.”

Steve also extended his appreciation to ISO technical committee ISO/TC 67 on materials, equipment and offshore structures for petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries, which began the work on this subject and provided many of the experts for the TC 8 working group. The working group that developed ISO 20519 included specialists from the maritime industry, equipment manufacturers, the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF), trading companies, class societies, international registries and the US Coast Guard. This sharing of knowledge was important to produce a standard that was both practical and would promote safety during LNG bunkering operations.

ISO 20519:2017 was produced at the request of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the European Commission and the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), the world’s largest international shipping association. It was developed by ISO/TC 8 whose secretariat is held by SAC, the ISO member for China, twinned with DIN, the ISO member for Germany. The full standard can be purchased from any national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

The devisors of the standard recognised that, with such a relatively new fuel, the standard will need to be brought up to date periodically to incorporate lessons learned over time and technological changes. To facilitate this, a group has been created to track LNG bunkering incidents and help identify when the standard should be updated.

The Gastech event will of course have a primary focus on LNG as an industrial power source but does contain much of relevance to the shipping industry. Technical conferences at the event in the Transportation and Storage agenda list specialist events including LNG Ship Design and Build, Containment, Propulsion and Equipment and Handling as well as sections on LPG, Ethanol and Hydrogen as fuels for transport of all types.