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Australia World Bunkering winter 2017

Green pressure on bunkering

The environment has dominated the recent Australian bunker agenda, with different interests trying to offer both the carrot and the stick to ships operating in Australian waters, John Rickards reports

The carrot comes in the form of the LNG Marine Fuel Institute, a lobby group and promotional association launched this year in Perth in Western Australia’s gas heartland. The not-for-profit body aims to push LNG as a marine fuel to promote “stable and environmentally sustainable growth for the maritime sector”, and launched with a partnership in place with the similar group in the Northern Hemisphere, the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF).

LNG MFI chairman Richard Sandover said: “LNG MFI sees a future for LNG fuels, not only in the marine industry but also our road, rail and mining industries being fuelled by our own gas. For LNG MFI, it is about Australia gaining energy independence. Our CEO and director, Captain Walter Purio describes this as our ‘noble cause’ and

he is right.”

 

The group supports the notion of a “green trade route” between Western Australia and Eastern Asia, fuelled by LNG. At the start of the year, major Western Australian gas producer Woodside Energy announced it was working with MOL, BHP Billiton, DNV GL, Rio Tinto and Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute on a study into the feasibility of an LNG-fuelled capesize bulker to operate on similar routes, which the joint venture titled the “Green Corridor”.

 

“As Australia’s leading producer of LNG, Woodside is pleased to be working with the mining and shipping industries to explore the potential for LNG fuel use by bulk carriers on the ‘Green Corridor’ trade routes between Australia and China,” said Peter Coleman,

Woodside CEO.

 

“We think the trade routes from northern Western Australia are the perfect place to drive the transition to LNG as a marine fuel, with exporting industries in close proximity to world-class LNG supplies.”

The stick comes in the form of further pushes to reduce sulphur emissions in port. Following on from Sydney’s imposition of a 0.1% sulphur limit for cruise ships at berth – Sydney’s White Bay cruise terminal has no shore-based power offering – Hobart City Council has taken steps to see a similar cap put on vessels calling there, asking the Australian federal government to put legislation in place.

The calls follow an increasing level of cruise visits to Tasmania, with estimates ranging from between 60 and nearly 140 calls expected at Hobart in the current season. Tasmania’s Environmental Protection Agency began a sulphur dioxide monitoring program in the port this summer to determine if sulphur emissions breached existing

national standards.

 

City Councillor Helen Burnet, who proposed the cap, told World Bunkering that while there was support in the Australian Senate for the move, there had been no formal response at the time of going to press to the council’s letter, and even getting the EPA to take notice had

been slow.

 

“I raised the issue a couple of years ago,” she said. “This is the time it took to have air monitoring in place. In those two years, the number of cruise ships has doubled. They berth very close to the city, within 100m of the UTAS Art School, and alongside a newly-built

5-star motel.”

 

“We know standards on bunker fuel use are higher in US and EU waters, and this is a step in ensuring air quality and that Hobart and Tasmania’s clean and green image is not tarnished.”

 

Whether the Australian government will act or not, or whether they’ll hold off with 2020’s global cap coming, remains to be seen.

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