The Spanish shipping company Baleària’s multi-vessel conversion project is one of several Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) initiatives to be approved in the latest round of the European Union’s TEN-T funding for sustainable and innovative transport projects. Baleària submitted its application as part of TEN-T’s CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) program. The company’s objective, being to remotorize five ferries of its fleet, has been described by the EU as “excellent”.
The European Commission has approved a grant of a maximum of € 11,797,424 (of the € 15 million requested), representing 20% of the investment that Baleària will make in these five retrofits. The remotorization will commence shortly and is planned for completion in 2021 to enable all vessels to operate using LNG.
The president of Baleària, Adolfo Utor, has shown his satisfaction for this concession, which supports the main challenge of the shipping company: to implement in the coming years the use of liquefied natural gas in the fleet, the fossil fuel more respectful of the environment. “Our goal is to become the shipping company in the medium term with the most sustainable and eco-efficient fleet in the sector”, said Utor, who recalled that, in addition to these five vessels, in the next few months the first of Baleària’s two smartships powered by LNG, being built by Cantiere Navale Visentini Srl is based in Donada, Rovigo, will be delivered.
The European Union considers that the relevance of the project is maximum, since it has scored it with a 5 out of 5, highlighting that “it allows to address the objectives of Regulation 1315/2013 in relation to efficiency, sustainability and cohesion, and that will contribute to the decarbonization of maritime transport”.
The evaluation commission has also considered that the project is ready to be implemented, since “technically it is very elaborated and its financing is assured”. Thus, in addition to highlighting the support of three banks prepared to cover the necessary loan, it indicates that “the cost-benefit analysis is based on a solid methodology and is comprehensive”. Finally, it states that it has practically all the necessary approvals at the national, regional and local levels.
From 2020, the shipping companies that operate within the European Union and the waters of the exclusive economic zone will have to use fuels with low sulfur content. Thus, the use of LNG in the five vessels to be remotorized ( Naples, Abel Matutes, Sicily, Bahama Mama and Martín i Soler ) is expected to reduce more than 45,000 tons of CO2 annually, 4,400 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and Totally eliminate sulfur and particulate emissions. The first of the ships to change their engines will be Naples, starting in mid-November.