With rising oil prices and emissions concerns comes increased interest in natural gas as a marine fuel. Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has recently come out in support of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the optimum solution for ships operating in ECA areas where potentially very expensive, ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel (ULSD) would otherwise be required:
(DNV, February 21, 2011)
A report from DNV says that using LNG as fuel is the most efficient and economical way for ships to meet air emissions requirements in the U.S. and Canada that take effect in August 2012. Environmental Control Areas (ECA) will gradually be enforced along the North American coastlines. They will have full force in 2015 and 2016, leaving shipowners a limited number of options for modifications to their ships if they want to continue trade in North America.
“Domestic ships in North America have three options to meet new emissions control regulations; install CO2 scrubbers, burn low sulfur fuel, or switch to LNG fuel for the ship's propulsion,” says Kenneth Vareide, director of operations for DNV North America Maritime.
Mr. Vareide says that an LNG fuelled propulsion plant may add about $3.6 million to the cost of a typical domestic cargo ship, however, over the operating life of the vessel, at today’s gas rates, LNG fuel would save more than $4 million over CO2 scrubbers and $12 million for low sulfur fuel.”
Specifically, the use of LNG fuel for a ship would reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions by 85-90%, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter by almost 100%, and it would result in 15-20% less greenhouse gas emissions.
DNV’s report is the first study of U.S. and Canadian domestic shipping and recommendations to meet new environmental legislation for North America. “LNG is particularly an attractive alternative for vessels with a fixed trading pattern, which should fit well with the biggest segments; ferries, offshore support vessels and tug/push boats. Besides, much of the coastal trade in the U.S. is fixed in its trade pattern and we have been in contact with several companies that are considering LNG for newbuildings and conversions,” says Mr. Vareide.
(You can access the report HERE)
Dual-fuel marine engines are now available using about 1% ULSD injection to ignite the gas charge in the engine cylinder, and they are finding increased appeal to owners wishing to demonstrate the best ship emission credentials by eliminating SOX and particulates while reducing CO and NOx emissions. Capital (investment) cost and supply-chain concerns have many shipowners concerned about the viability of LNG as a fuel.
Tell us what you think about using LNG. Are engine manufacturers clear on the additional capital cost and engine performance using LNG? Are you looking at LNG to reduce emissions and insulate your fleet from continued escalation in oil prices? What are your propulsion and auxiliary power requirements? Let’s get the dialog going….
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