Experts consider LNG the most viable alternative fuel

Experts consider LNG the most viable alternative fuel

The onset in 2020 of reductions on maximum sulfur emissions is certainly the biggest factor driving the cruise industry’s actions on all fronts related to energy consumption and alternative fuels – the focus of a panel on the opening day of Seatrade Cruise Global.

The discussion comes as European regulations on verification of CO2 emissions (MRV) come into force at the start of 2018.

And, a year later, the IMO will be requiring shipowners to provide data on fuel consumption.

TOTE’s evp Peter Keller, who serves as chairman of the Sea/LNG consortium, said the probability of further regulatory initiatives, is ‘right up there with death and taxes.’

The session, moderated by CLIA’s Bud Darr, svp technical and regulatory affairs, was not specifically about LNG fueling - but, in the words of panelist Paolo Moretti, RINA’s Marine general manager, in reviewing a list of alternatives to conventional fuels - including fuel cells and methanol, who said, ‘LNG is the only one to be considered a real alternative at this point.’

Keller noted that shipowners have choices (of low sulfur fuels, scrubbers and LNG) but cautioned that over time, ‘regulators may start asking questions about scrubbers…and, at the end of the day, we have the most viable alternative - which is LNG.’

Keller did acknowledge that LNG makes more sense in newbuilds than in conversions of existing ships, a point emphasized by panel Tom Strang, svp maritime affairs Carnival Corporation, who said, ‘the new ships are clearly more efficient than the older ships.’

In the Q & A session, he discussed the business analysis that led to Carnival’s decision to go with cleaning of exhaust gasses from conventionally fueled vessels, saying, ‘We looked at retrofits on cruise ships [for burning LNG] but it really isn’t feasible.’

Referring to existing ships, Strang reminded the audience of Carnival’s large investments in exhaust gas cleaning systems, but also pointed out that measures such as hull form optimization, air lubrication, high efficiency propellers and even better controls of HVAC in hotel systems were methods of building efficiencies flowing directly to the bottom line.

Keller, amplifying on remarks by Aziz Bamik, gm North America, for GTT - which sponsored the session, pointed out that the infrastructure for LNG fueling of cruise (and other) shipping already exists.

Panelist John Grubic, who leads LNG Business Development at Shell (which will be partnering with Carnival on fueling its LNG powered vessels for AIDA Cruises brand) talked about, ‘a mosaic of fuels’ with LNG being, ‘a destination fuel for shipping.’

Bamik, from GTT, emphasized the importance of logistics (making LNG widely available with proven supply lines) and commoditization - with common standards (developed through SGMF - Society for Gas as A Marine Fuel) and procedures including training, maintenance and drydocking.

Discussing the infrastructure, Bamik said, ‘everything is in place’. LNG fueling will spread its geographical reach. ‘We are keen on making LNG widely available in the market,’ added Grubic.

Widespread LNG fueling is still a work in progress, and requires a tremendous amount of cooperation from stakeholders ranging ‘from molecules all the way to the propeller’, in the words of Keller, who concluded his remarks by emphasizing the need for cooperation and collaboration.

He commented, the advent of LNG fueling is no different from other evolutions in maritime technology, for example, the early installation of container cranes along the quays at ports across the globe.

 

Posted 15 March 2017

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Barry Parker

New York correspondent, Seatrade Maritime News