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UECC’s first LNG battery hybrid PCTC on the water
UECC’s first LNG battery hybrid PCTC on the water

Industry coalition hits back at LNG critics

SEA-LNG ramps up arguments for adopting LNG as a marine fuel despite increasing criticism from environmental groups and the recommendations of a World Bank report

Industry coalition SEA-LNG is continuing to push its case that shipping needs to use LNG in face of calls from environmentalists, particularly in Europe, not to invest in LNG but to encourage the development of alternative fuels.

In a recent, assertive press release the organisation stresses that “LNG fuels reduce up to 23% of GHG emissions, and that bio- and synthetic-LNG offer low risk, incremental pathways to net zero”.


It argues: “Waiting for future fuels and not fully utilising LNG, which is safe, proven, competitive and available today, is a mistake. We need to take advantage today of the confirmed reduction in GHG of up to 23% (Well-to-Wake) and the obvious air quality benefits of LNG as a maritime fuel. To continue to wait for unproven alternatives only makes the current GHG and local emissions problems worse.”


SEA-LNG is critical of the recent World Bank report The Role of LNG in the Transition Toward Low- and Zero-Carbon Shipping. According to SEA-LNG the report attempts to prescribe solutions and predict the timing of future technology development. SEA-LNG says that it strongly believes that the “transition to future fuels must not follow this prescriptive approach”. It argues: “It is far too early to decide what the real potential of various alternatives fuels will be for such a highly complex, hard-to-abate, global industry.”


SEA-LNG puts its case as follows: “Theoretical arguments are an important starting position, but the 50 plus years of proven, safe operational experience that the Industry has with LNG speaks for itself. Further, bio and synthetic LNG offer an incremental pathway for the decarbonisation of the global shipping industry – one that is already being implemented by a growing number of shipowners. The existing LNG infrastructure is being used today and is interchangeable with its bio and synthetic cousins, thereby providing a low risk, long-term decarbonisation alternative.


“By focusing on theoretical, unproven solutions, the World Bank stifles innovation in technologies that can also provide answers in the decades ahead. We strongly encourage all institutions around the globe that have a place in the policy debate to set standards and targets that drive real and immediate reductions in GHG emissions not prescribe specific technology solutions that are untried and unproven in the real world.


“To suggest that investments not be made in the LNG sector is unwise, will prolong the use of higher emissions fuels and slow down shipping’s decarbonisation.


“Technologies are constantly evolving, and it is essential to use up-to-date data when evaluating different propulsion alternatives for the maritime sector. Based on the primary data and methodology of SEA-LNG’s latest research, we are unequivocally confident that Sphera’s 2nd Lifecycle GHG Emission Study on the use of LNG as a Marine Fuel is the definitive study on the essential role that LNG has to play in shipping’s pathway to decarbonisation. The findings are based on the latest primary data, assessing all major types of marine engines and global sources of supply, follows ISO standards and is peer reviewed by neutral academics. This is in contrast to some of the studies that the World Bank cites which are based on out-of-date technologies used in niche maritime operations.” 

“The SEA-LNG study…shows that LNG as a marine fuel provides GHG benefits of up to 23% on a Well-to-Wake (WtW) basis and up to 30% on a Tank-to-Wake (TtW) basis compared with current oil-based marine fuels.


“While methane slip is an issue that needs to be addressed, its effect must be quantified using up-to-date and accurate information. Using current engine information, as the SEA-LNG study does, shows that methane slip does not impact LNG’s GHG reduction potential to the extent that the World Bank report claims. LNG engine solutions are already in use today with minimal methane slip. Manufacturers are on a pathway to continue to reduce methane slip even further through measures which include design changes, and the implementation of advanced combustion algorithms. LNG-fuelled vessels being built today have much lower levels of methane slip than what is often cited in academic studies, including the IMO 4th GHG study. As Peter Keller, Chairman of SEA-LNG recently noted, “often based on outdated data, methane slip has become an overused argument for those wishing to justify inaction. “


SEA-LNG continues: “The World Bank report also fails to acknowledge the very rapid acceleration in the availability of Bio-LNG. The European Biogas Association expects a ten-fold increase in Europe by 2030 and according to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), every part of the world has significant scope to produce biogas and/or biomethane, the gaseous form of bio-LNG. The 2020 Bio and synthetic fuels study by CE Delft highlights that large-scale bio-LNG supplies produced from sustainable biomass resources could be available in the 2030s, presenting the maritime sector with a safe and scalable alternative fuel.


“While highlighting green ammonia and hydrogen as the only viable future fuels, the World Bank report fails to mention the major challenges associated with these fuels. Considerable research and development as well as extensive operational testing is still needed. Major technological and regulatory hurdles need to be overcome before ammonia and hydrogen can be safely used as fuels in the marine environment. Investment cases will be hindered by the low energy density of these fuels.


The massive investments that will be required in new infrastructure will have to be co-ordinated with ship-owners and other stakeholders. The World Bank’s untested theoretical approach risks delaying the shipping industry’s decarbonisation and at worst it can lead the industry down a technology cul-de-sac.


“The global health benefits resulting from the use of LNG as a marine fuel are well known and accepted. LNG-fuelled vessels emit virtually no SOx while dramatically limiting emissions of NOx. It also virtually eliminates particulate matter, including black carbon or soot, which while not yet regulated, is an environmental concern. We should not miss this opportunity, especially in developing economies where air pollution is a significant and growing problem.

SEA-LNG concludes by saying: “By investing in LNG dual-fuelled vessels, the shipping industry begins the decarbonisation process now. This creates a direct pathway to significantly lower carbon emissions and facilitates the introduction of zero-carbon alternative fuels as and when they become commercially and operationally viable.

“SEA-LNG encourages informed debate of future fuels. It is important however, to base this debate on objective, up-to-date lifecycle analysis and recognise that we need to start with proven technologies not future concepts that are currently no more than wishful thinking.”


Battery hybrid PCTC launched
In what United European Car Carriers (UECC) called “a major step toward achieving sustainable shipping”, the first of its three LNG battery hybrid PCTCs being built by Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai was launched in April. The remaining two vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2022.


The new UECC PCTCs meet Tier 3 IMO NOx emission limitations in place for the Baltic and North Sea. All three will be equipped with battery hybrid solutions that will “enable UECC to far exceed the IMO’s target of 40 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2030”.


The ships are also equipped with dual-fuel LNG engines for main propulsion and auxiliaries. As more biofuels are set to become commercially available in the future, UECC plans to increase the proportion of carbon neutral and synthetic fuels in their future fuel mix.


LNG bunkering at Singapore
What was described as the first ship-to-container ship LNG bunkering operation in Asia took place at Singapore in March. The CMA CGM Scandola was fuelled with 7,100 cubic metres of LNG from Singapore’s first LNG bunkering vessel the FueLNG Bellina.

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs, Mr Chee Hong Tat, attended the launch of the bunkering operation and said: “The use of more sustainable fuels is an important element of the decarbonisation strategy. As the shipping industry explores alternative zero-carbon fuels, LNG is a viable transitional fuel. As a global bunkering hub, we are pleased to partner CMA CGM, FueLNG, Keppel Offshore & Marine and Shell Eastern Petroleum, to provide more sustainable bunkering solutions for the shipping industry. It also marks another major milestone as Asia’s first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operation with simultaneous cargo operations.”


The CMA CGM Scandola is the first of six new 15,000-TEU LNG-powered container ships which CMA CGM Group has lined-up to be bunkered in Singapore this year. These ships will be deployed on CMA CGM’s MEX 1 service between Asia and the Mediterranean. The stem was also the first ship-to-ship operation for the FueLNG Bellina. Designed and built by Keppel O&M, the 7,500 cubic metres vessel is expected to carry out about 30 to 50 ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operations in 2021


LNG tanks for big box boats
French-based technology and engineering company GTT (Gaztransport & Technigaz), has received Approval in Principle (AiP) for its NO96 containment system application as an LNG fuel tank for ultra large container vessels (ULCVs) from the classification society DNV GL.


The company, which specialises in the design of membrane containment systems for the transport and storage of liquefied gas, and DNV GL reviewed the compatibility of the NO96 technology within a container vessel hull to ensure that the integration of such a containment system is fit for purpose. Under the AiP procedure, a sloshing assessment of the containment system has also been performed.


Philippe Berterottière, Chairman and CEO of GTT, said: “This Approval by DNV GL now allows us to offer to the ship-owners two membrane technologies: Mark III technology, which has already been certified, and NO96. NO96, already used in over 200 LNG carriers, represents a reliable and competitive solution which is particularly well adapted to ULCVs fuel tanks.”

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