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Gastech 2014: Future of LNG as marine fuel looks bright

Liquid natural gas (LNG) could power the ships of the future in an eco-friendly manner if the marine industry takes the lead in the face of competitors tapping into the same energy source, said Mark Bell, General Manager of the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF).

“To use that fuel is going to be a totally different scenario,” he said, laying out a century of history from the steam-powered vessels of the past to today’s energy sources. “The next evolution won’t happen overnight, but it will happen,” he said, adding that the marine industry has been slow to embrace novel technologies.

William Sember, Vice President for Global Marketing at ABS, discussed the lessons learned while developing the design specifications an environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient class of LNG-fueled vessels, which would conform to upcoming regulations in the US.   On January 5, 2015, he said, the US will drop its sulfur emissions limit to no more than 0.10 percent from 1 percent, requiring ship owners and operators to lower emissions or face the possibility that their fleets will not meet the emissions requirement.

Regulations being developed will look at gas fuel transfer operations, crew training, and transfers from tank vessels and storage tanks, electrical equipment and other areas. There are three options to meet these requirements, such as by using distillate fuels, exhaust gas scrubber, and LNG as fuels, he said.   Sember also put forward five lessons for following the complexities of regulations: establishing formal lines of communications, defining responsibilities and informing stakeholders, simplifying novel concepts, addressing any noncompliance issues early, and using trusted advisors and partners.

The big stakeholder that “people seem to take for granted is public opinion,” he said. “It comes back to making sure the public knows what’s being done and is being included as a stakeholder.”

Thomas Hale, Senior Cryogenic Engineer at Qatar Gas Operating Company Ltd., introduced the company’s pilot project to enable the modification of low-speed diesel engines on one Large LNG Carrier (LLNGC), called a Q-Max.   Hale looked at three options for meeting regulations: do nothing, use exhaust gas cleaning systems, or use M-type electronic controls-gas injection (ME-GI). ME-GI offered all sorts of benefits, because it is compliant with anticipated environmental requirements and is a flexible fuel supply. ME-GI can also be implemented feasibly, he said.

The engines would burn gas at high pressure as a supplementary fuel to heavy fuel oil. The company’s  Q-Flex and Q-Max vessels were designed and built with the first application of the more efficient low-speed diesel propulsion (LSD) for LNG carriers, with reliquefaction technology used for boil-off management.

Kim Kidong, Principal Researcher at KOGAS, discussed LNG Bunkering by referring to a feasibility study of South Korean ports. Korea, which employs 170,000 people in the shipbuilding and equipment industry, considers LNG a sustainable marine fuel for the future, he said.

In a risk assessment, KOGAS found no intolerable risks at the Busan port for LNG bunkering infrastructure and facilities, Kidong said. He cited benefits in the potential reduction of CO2 emissions using LNG, along with CO2 price savings.   The Busan port can be a baseline for the Arctic shipping passage between northeast Asia and Europe, he added.

Source: GASTECH

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