by Alexandra Jane Oliver
“LNG has great potential. And we know from LNG operations on gas tankers that it is extremely safe to use, both in ships and in bunkering facilities”, said Alfred Hartmann, President of the German Shipowners Association. But what the industry needed, was a level playing field, he added. “At the moment there are still several challenges, one of them is that authorities need to establish a legal framework and structural regimes for LNG operation, ” said Jan Tellkamp, Principal Consultant Project Management at DNV GL, at the panel discussion during the conference. LNG bunkering is currently at the top of the EU’s transport agenda as LNG offers a number of advantages over traditional shipping bunker fuels.
By 2016 all the European Union’s Member States will have to specify in their national policy frameworks, which maritime and inland ports are to provide access to LNG refuelling points. This comes as a result of the “directive for the deployment of the alternative fuels infrastructure”, which requires Member States to provide a minimum infrastructure for alternative fuels such as electricity, hydrogen and natural gas, as well as common EU-wide standards for equipment needed and user information (for more information, see here.
“There is full flexibility: refuelling points for LNG could include LNG terminals, tanks, mobile containers, bunker vessels and barges, on-shore or off-shore, amongst other things. Neighbouring countries could join forces and present joint-solutions in order to ensure the coverage of the trans-European core transport network”, explained Daniela Rosca, who heads the Unit for Clean Transport and Sustainable Urban Mobility, DG Mobility and Transport at the European Commission. DNV GL is consulting with port authorities during the planning process. “For example, we are involved in drawing up a master plan for the River Rhein. This plan will be presented by the end of this year, ” Tellkamp added.
Several owners who have already invested in LNG solutions addressed the conference. “Two of our 17 vessels will be running on LNG by the summer, one of them is a retrofit and one of them a newbuild. DNV GL was a very reliable partner in this project and we are convinced we are on the right path, ” said Dr Bernhard Brons, Director of the Corporation AG Ems. “Currently we want to wait and see how LNG operation works in practise, before we consider retrofitting on any more of our vessels, ” he added. Brons also called for more common standards. “As a shipowner you want to have an engine that has a type-certification, this has not been realized for all engine parts on board yet.”
Despite such challenges, the uptake of LNG as shipfuel is booming, said Jan Tellkamp. “At the moment we have 134 confirmed LNG-projects identified. That is more ten more than in January and significantly more than just a year ago – an exponential growth. So it’s not a question of if LNG will be widely introduced as shipfuel, but when.”
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