Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Growth of LNG as Fuel for Cargo, Container and Cruise Vessels Continues Unabated

More Developments Include Road Haulage Possibilities
Shipping News Feature
POLAND – US – FINLAND – The development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as both a marine fuel as well as for other transport modes, particularly road haulage, it seems is destined to continue. The past week has seen at least two significant developments, one a Polish based conference entirely about the uses, possibilities and challenges of the gas, the second an announcement by one of the lead sponsors of that event regarding the construction of a new articulated tug barge (ATB) to fuel the LNG powered US cruise liner fleet.

The organisers of the LNG Conference in Poland claim it to be the first featuring such variety among both speakers and audience with a broad range of industry professionals, including government officials, policymakers, technology providers, logistic companies, port authorities and LNG suppliers present. The first day covered infrastructure development and safety of the gas in the country but also covered more specific topics, such as LNG application in the Port of Gdynia and regulations surrounding floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) implementation in the Baltic region.

The speakers hit upon potential problem areas such as the judicial aspects of LNG trading in Poland as well as legal barriers and investment risks facing implementation of LNG as fuel in road transport. The day ended with the Polish LNG Platform, IVECO, Volvo and Remontowa LNG Systems sitting down together and discussing LNG’s role as a synergy catalyst for different modes of transport.

The panellists agreed that the need for infrastructure is high and the lack of a legal framework covering safety aspects, especially in the maritime industry, was also cited. The panel remained positive however, wishing for a connected distribution network encompassing all industry branches to become a reality one day.

Day two kicked off with a broader look on the current state of the LNG industry in Europe, with speeches by members of the European Commission and DNV GL. LNG’s contribution to the European energy safety package and the main drivers behind LNG infrastructure development were covered extensively. It was agreed that it was essential that there is cross-border cooperation in order to create and support a European LNG distribution network,

From there on it was all about supply, distribution and brand new technologies and solutions. The speakers tackled a plethora of very specific topics, such as minimising the financial exposures in the energy determination of LNG or LNG distribution chain along the Polish coastline and main rivers to broader ones, an LNG distribution infrastructure overview in Lithuania and Norwegian small scale solutions.

The last session included frontrunners in the implementation of LNG as fuel in road transportation, namely IVECO and Volvo, presenting their take on solutions currently available for this sector. Their presentations stood in direct connection to the rest of the cast, with NGVA offering an overview of European developments in this matter and Chart Ferox taking a leap into the future with their new generation of LNG/CLNG vehicle fuelling stations. A sizeable contingent of participants decided to end the event on a high-note and braced the cold in order to take part in the LNG practical safety workshop prepared by Barter.

A sizeable contingent of participants decided to end the event on a high-note and braced the cold in order to take part in the LNG practical safety workshop prepared by Barter. The workshop took place in Łomianki and demonstrated various extinguishing methods in case of an initial LNG release. The event enjoyed honorary partnerships with NGVA, SGMF and the Baltic Ports Organization and the conference was sponsored by IVECO, Emerson, Barter, Chart Ferox and Wärtsilä, and it was this last company which had other news to announce this week.

Wärtsilä has been selected to provide a broad scope of products and solutions for a new articulated tug barge (ATB). The vessel will be used to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel to cruise ships along the east coast of Florida. This will be the first fuelling barge with a Wärtsilä solution operating in US waters, and is seen as being an important logistics link for the growth of LNG as a marine fuel in the USA.

The ATB comprises a barge and a tug. The barge will be fitted with a Wärtsilä LNG cargo storage, handling, and control system. Wärtsilä will also supply the barge automation, power management, and ballast water management systems, as well the bow thruster. The tug will include Wärtsilä main propulsion steerable thrusters and shaft lines, the Wärtsilä NACOS Platinum dynamic positioning system, the tug automation, as well as all navigation and communication equipment.

The 4000 m3 capacity ATB is being built at the VT Halter Marine (VTHM) shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi on behalf of Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport LLC (Q-LNG). When delivered, the vessel will be on a long-term charter with Shell Oil Co. The order with Wärtsilä was booked just this month and deliveries will continue throughout 2018 and 2019, with the vessel scheduled to commence operations in 2020. Hanno Schoonman, General Manager Sales for Wärtsilä Marine Solutions in the US, commented:

"Wärtsilä is very grateful for the confidence placed in our solutions by VTHM, Q-LNG and Shell. Increasing the use of LNG as a marine fuel is at the core of our global business strategy, and this project represents an important step towards realising that aim."

Q-LNG is owned 70% by Shane Guidry and 30% by Harvey Gulf International Marine, a company that currently has six vessels under construction or in operation with LNG solutions supplied by Wärtsilä . The success of these installations, together with recommendations from Shell, were apparently strong factors in the selection of Wärtsilä equipment for this project. Chad Verret, President of Q-LNG, observed:

"Q-LNG is very pleased to again be partnering with Wärtsilä on yet another ground-breaking project. Wärtsilä 's expertise in LNG systems, its solid reputation for top quality marine equipment, and its commitment to customer service fits in very well with Q-LNG's plan to advance the development of LNG as a marine fuel in North America.”

Photo: Wärtsilä will provide a broad scope of products and solutions for the new ATB.