LNG as a fuel: The game changer that cannot be ignored
The move to LNG as a fuel is a game changer which cannot be ignored, said Angus Campbell, Managing Director of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement UK, (BSM), speaking at Gastech in Singapore today. "Independent industry predictions indicate that the use of LNG as a bunker fuel offers opportunities for early movers to secure a market leading position ashore and afloat, and global LNG fuelling will become a mainstream option.
"It has happened before," he said. "Wind gave way to coal and coal in its turn gave way to oil. The move from oil to natural gas is simply the next progression in the evolution of maritime transportation."
Mr Campbell identified that this step change will also have a major impact on the refuelling of vessels, requiring a sophisticated supply chain, dealing with simultaneous operations and other factors not traditionally associated with bunkering in the LNG sector. "These are some of the factors that have driven BSM, working in partnership with BMT Triton and Babcock LGE, to develop its own unique Gas Fuel Supply Vessel design which will support LNG fuelled ships, and the delivery of gas to small onshore facilities and large off-pipe consumers," he said.
Despite its relative efficiency compared with other methods of transportation, shipping has been identified by international governments as a large and growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Angus Campbell pointed out that the increasing number of programmes and regulations concerning the impact of shipping on the environment are growing and the choice for shipowners is no longer whether to come into line, but what option to choose in order to do so.
In his view there is no real choice – distillate fuels and the use of scrubbers with conventional fuel simply do not have the advantages of LNG. "Distillate fuels are expensive and there is a likelihood that the price will increase due to demand as emission regulations are enforced in multiple areas," he explained to the audience. "Scrubbers may seem a simple alternative but the cost benefit calculation is actually very complex – with no guarantees that this will be accepted as a long term method of emission reduction."
He concluded: "LNG will be with us for a very long time – with over 200 years supply in the ground it is sustainable, meets current and planned emission limits and, as it is a clean fuel, offers maintenance cost improvements."