Liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel for vessels has long been discussed as an alternative option, however, with its increasing availability and more bunkering infrastructure available, it is becoming more of a preferred option for many ship owners and operators.
This was a joint sentiment among speakers and participants of a technical session titled “Gas-fueled offshore vessels” held on Tuesday as part of the Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference (OEEC) in Amsterdam.
Navingo, the Dutch media company and organizer of OEEC, set up the session in cooperation with LNG World News and Netherlands Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Association (NMT).
The session, one of many to take place during the two-day event was moderated by Roel de Graaf, Managing Director of the Netherlands Maritime Technology.
Speakers included Luca Franza, Researcher at Clingendael International Energy Programme, Sean Bond, Director Global Gas Solutions at ABS, Marcel van den Berg, Key Account Manager Commercial Fuels at Shell GTL Fuel Marine, Frank Harteveld, General Manager Fuel gas Systems at Wärtsilä, and Sipke Schuurmans, Project Director at Heerema Marine Contractors.
Topics ranging from market supply of LNG and GTL (gas-to-liquids), as well as the advantages of both, and regulatory and technological challenges associated with increasing the use of cleaner marine fuels were discussed at the session.
The session also touched on the outlook for LNG imports into the European Union.
Opening the session, Luca Franca presented the main findings of a new study ‘Outlook for LNG imports into the EU to 20251, which is a part of the series ‘CIEP Perspectives on EU Gas Market Fundamentals’.
He noted that LNG imports into Europe are set to substantially increase in the future. However, he cautioned that Russia, Europe’s largest pipeline gas supplier is willing and able to defend its market share, calling the duel between Russian gas and LNG imports a “knife edge competition.”
In regards to LNG as fuel for vessels, he said that now is a good time to push for the promotion of the chilled gas stressing that there is still much to be done in developing infrastructure and favorable policies.
Sean Bond of ABS discussed the technical path and challenges associated with LNG-fueled offshore support vessels from an angle of a classification society.
He presented several cases including the Harvey Gulf’s six LNG-powered OSVs.
Summarizing the experience from early adopters, Bond noted that the adoption of LNG as marine fuel requires a dedicated team, trusted advisors stressing the necessity of crew training and a constant dialogue with the regulatory bodies.
The session continued with a presentation by Frank Harteveld from Wärtsilä who discussed the impact of cryogenic and volatile gasses on board vessels impact design and operations.
Harteveld added that one of the most important factors when using LNG as fuel for vessels is understanding how to deal with a fuel which is completely different from any other.
LNG and GTL not competitors
In an interesting comparison of LNG versus GTL, Shell’s Marcel van den Berg said the two fuels are no competitors.
He noted that “sometimes at Shell”, these two fuels are competitors but stressed that there is enough space for both, giving the advantage to LNG as a “cleaner” option due to its more “positive carbon footprint”.
Shell, the world’s largest supplier of GTL produces the fuel in Qatar, the world’s largest LNG exporter.
Last but not least, Sipke Schuurmans of Heerema updated the session participants on the construction of the company’s semi-submersible crane vessel ’Sleipnir’.
The vessel, that will be powered by dual fuel engines able to run both on MGO & LNG, is currently under construction by Sembcorp Marine in Singapore.
According to Schuurmans, Sleipnir will have the largest LNG fuel plant installed up to date with a total power of 96 MW.
The LNG fuel plant will have a capacity of 8000 cubic meters and Heerema is currently in talks with several companies to supply the fuel to the crane vessel, Schuurmans said.