Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Coalition to Help Merchant Shipping Adapt to LNG

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Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – With the new restrictions on the use of heavy oil as a fuel source for merchant vessels, ferries etc. likely only to become ever more rigid with the efforts to clean up the maritime sectors environmental pollutants, the use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) becomes more appealing as time passes. Now a diverse mixture of industry players from a container shipping line to vessel classification operations have formed a coalition, known as SEA/LNG, to accelerate the widespread adoption of LNG as a marine fuel.

The group consists of engine technology solution groups Wärtsilä and GE Marine, ship classifiers DNV-GL and Lloyd’s Register, energy industry players ENGIE, ENN Group, shipbuilders TOTE, LNG specialists GTT, Shell Downstream and Qatargas, industrial giant Mitsubishi, shipping lines NYK and the Carnival Corporation and the Port of Rotterdam.

LNG offers significant environmental advantages for shipping compared to heavy fuel oil (HFO), which remains the predominant fuel used today. By comparison with HFO, NOx emissions are cut by approximately 85%, SOx emissions are almost completely eliminated since natural gas contains no sulphur, and particle production is practically non-existent, thanks to the efficient combustion of natural gas, a fuel with almost no residuals.

The main areas of focus for the coalition include supporting the development of LNG bunkering in major ports, educating stakeholders as to the risks and opportunities in the use of LNG fuel, and developing globally consistent regulations for cleaner shipping fuels. Timo Koponen, Vice President, Flow & Gas Solutions, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions explained the logic behing SEA/LNG saying:

"This is a strong coalition combining the expertise of major fleet owners, classification societies, port facilities, and energy experts. Wärtsilä contributes its vast experience and know-how in gas driven propulsion systems and the entire gas value chain. By working together, we plan to overcome the challenges and speed the general acceptance of LNG. Having been a pioneer in the use of LNG as a marine fuel, and a developer of major technologies facilitating the adoption of LNG fuel, it is natural that Wärtsilä supports wholeheartedly the aims of the SEA/LNG coalition."

Although overall ocean freight is claimed as the cleanest method of cargo transport there are still measures which could reduce the carbon footprint of the industry substantially, particularly with regard to the fuel used. LNG produces less greenhouse gases than fuel oil, as well as drastically reducing particulates and cutting SOx, and NOx considerably. Leo Karistios, Lloyd Register’s Gas Technology Manager, commented:

“LNG fuelled shipping has mainly been for the visionaries and, until now, concentrated in specialist ship sectors, short sea shipping and ferries, mainly sailing between two fixed ports. We want to help drive the expansion of LNG as a marine fuel of choice, with not just more short sea and local ships burning gas, but also the deep sea trades”.

Photo: Artist's impression of a Shell LNG bunker vessel (courtesy of Wärtsilä)