Aiming for an increasingly eco-efficient fleet, the Spanish shipping company Baleària has announced plans to convert five of its ferries to liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel over the next two years. The first of the ships of the fleet to be converted will be the ferry Nápoles, scheduled for the northern winter.
The ferries Nápoles, Abel Matutes, Sicilia, Bahama Mama and Martin i Soler form the vessels of this project, which will achieve natural gas-powered propulsion at a cost of EUR 60 million (approx. USD 70 million). The use of LNG in these five vessels is expected to reduce annual CO2 emissions by more than 45,000 tons and nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 4,400 tons. It will eliminate sulfur and particulate emissions completely.
Additionally, the company is building two natural gas powered ships at the Italian shipyard Cantiere Navale Visentini, the first of which will be operational as of next February. These ferries will reach a speed of 24 knots thanks to two dual engines with a power of 20,600 KW. Another LNG-propelled newbuild, a cruise ferry being constructed at the LaNaval shipyard in Spain, will be the largest in operation in the Mediterranean and is expected to enter service in 2019.
The president of Baleària, Adolfo Utor, says that LNG is the fossil fuel most respectful of the environment and points out that “in three years the company plans to have nine ships sailing with this energy”.
The shipping company has been working on projects related to liquefied natural gas since 2012. Thus, in addition to being a founding member of the Spanish Association of Natural Gas for Mobility (GASNAM), created in 2013, it has strategic agreements with Naturgy (with whom it has an exclusive LNG supply contract for 10 years) and Rolls Royce and Wärtsilä (for the construction of engines). In addition, last year Baleària launched the first LNG energy generator on a passenger ship, the Abel Matutes, and has been running since 2015 an LNG training plan for its crew and ship inspectors.