Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Another benefit of the shale gas revolution: A bright and clean future for shipping

The  M/S Viking Grace - to be delivered in January 2013 from the STX  Finland Turky shipyard - will be the largest passenger ferry to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG), making it the most environmentally sound and energy efficient large passenger vessel in the industry to date. 

Two years ago, the world´s largest ship engine builder Wärtsilä´s Jaakko Eskola predicted a bright future for gas powered ships: 
The number of ships powered by liquefied natural gas may jump 10-fold within five years as anti-pollution rules force owners to switch to the cleaner- burning fuel, the industry’s biggest engine maker said.
“LNG is the future for shipping,” Jaakko Eskola, head of ship power at Helsinki-based Waertsilae Oyj, said by phone on Nov. 12 from Shanghai. Between 800 and 1,000 vessels may use the fuel by 2015, up from about 100 today, he said.

The recent upsurge in the number of LNG ship projects proves that Eskola was right:
“Increasing focus on LNG as a clean and cost effective ship fuel has brought forward initiatives throughout the shipping industry, preparing the ground for a more rapid introduction of LNG as fuel for ships in all segments,” said Mr. Remi Eriksen, COO of DNV Asia Pacific & Middle East. “We believe 500 LNG fuelled ships will be on order by 2015, several thousands by 2020,” he said.
“From a slow start, the interest in LNG as fuel is now very much on the increase. We see studies and projects initiated among national governments, major ship yards and ship owners. Key players throughout the shipping industry are assessing the benefits and risks of going for LNG fuelled vessels, either as conversions or new buildings. This greater interest is creating a momentum that in itself increases the speed in which LNG will be introduced to all segments of shipping.”
The fast growth of the LNG power sector has surprised analysts
Accelerating growth is what you would expect under these circumstances. What surprised us is the rate,” Tom Campbell, LNG-fuel analyst at Zeus,said. “High oil prices, impending emissions regulations and technical advancements are propelling the market faster than we expected.”
A key factor is International Maritime Organization Tier III emissions standards, which are slated to take effect in 2015-2016. The regulations require operators to reduce sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions. For existing ships, after-exhaust treatment is proving more popular, but for newbuilds, operators are taking advantage of LNG’s unique properties.
As LNG is better understood, architects are able to design ships specifically for LNG storage and propulsion,” Campbell said. “Firms such as Wärtsilä now offer integrated onboard fuel delivery systems and power units for shipbuilders.
Zeus’ survey finds that LNG usage is growing beyond coastal ferries in Europe and offshore service vessels for the oil and gas industry, to large cruise ferries and container vessels while expanding geographically from Europe to North America and Asia. Currently projects underway in Belgium, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere have made efforts to offer LNG bunkering and incentives to support LNG-fueled marine technology.

LNG powered ships should be of particular interest for countries like the US and Canada, with their huge resources of shale gas: 
Taking North America as an example, the US and Canada are replete with very competitively priced gas as a result of its recent discoveries of shale and other unconventional gas. Powering North American fleets of OSVs, regional ferries, fishing boats, Great Lakers and inland waterway vessels with gas makes eminent good sense from a commercial point of view. 

The fast growth of clean gas power in ships is another testimony to the benefits of the shale gas revolution, which is paving the way for great energy solutions for all kinds of future transportation problems. And all this is taking place without any senseless and costly government or EU regulations! 

(image by STX Finland)

1 comment:

A K Haart said...

"And all this is taking place without any senseless and expensive government or EU regulations."

Otherwise it probably wouldn't have happened in the first place!