Norwegian shipping company Fjord Line has two new cruise ferries under construction at Bergen Group Fosen, in Rissa municipality. Both will be powered solely by environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of the more polluting heavy fuel oil. The company claims the first of these vessels, MS Stavangerfjord, will be the first and largest cruise ferry in the world to sail with a “single LNG engine” when it goes into operation in 2013.
“In this way Fjord Line will meet the new, stricter standards for sulfur content in fuels long before the deadline in 2015,” says CEO Ingvald Fardal.
When both vessels are in service, travelers will be offered daily departures all year round on the routes between Bergen, Stavanger and Hirtshals, and between Hirtshals and Langesund, becoming, in Fjord Line’s words, “the “greenest” sea routes between Norway and the EU. While other shipping companies base their natural gas operations on “dual fuel engines,” Fjord Line is going one step further by using a “single LNG engine” to reduce emissions and protect the environment.
“Installation of the motors and other technical equipment needed to power the ships with natural gas will extend the construction period. However, going with natural gas from day one will mean we can avoid taking the ships out of operation for three months when the new emission standards come in force in 2015. We will take delivery of MS Stavangerfjord from the shipyard in April of next year and welcome passengers to the maiden voyage from Bergen in May. The other ship will be ready to sail a few months later. We will then achieve the regularity we have been working toward without a long service interruption in 2014,” says Fardal.
He notes that Fjord Line’s new ships will travel in areas with many shoals. By using only LNG as fuel, the environmental improvement will be significant, both along the coasts and in the harbors where the cruise ferries will operate.
Fjord Line has chosen Rolls-Royce as the supplier of the LNG engines. “This is a well-proven technology, produced in Norway, that has been used on a number of ferries and ships used in the offshore industry. In addition to meeting important environmental considerations, natural gas operation will be more cost-effective than heavy fuel oil,” says Fjord Line’s CEO.
Fardal points out that emissions of sulfur from shipping in Northern Europe starting in 2015 cannot grow by more than 0.1 percent. LNG contains no sulfur or heavy metals. It reduces CO2 emissions by 20-30 percent and emissions of NOx by around 90 percent compared to heavy fuel oil. After 2015 the only alternatives to natural gas will be diesel, or investing in expensive scrubbing technology that removes the emissions from the combustion of heavy fuel oil. LNG is also expected to be the most cost-effective fuel in the future and delivers a much bigger environmental benefit than all the other alternatives.
“We are very pleased to have signed agreements that ensure our ships will operate in the most environmentally friendly way and on commercially attractive terms. At this time we would like to thank the NOx Fund (1) for the contribution that has made this possible,” says Fardal.
(1) In 2008, Norway created an internationally unique method of bringing down nitrogen oxide emissions. In essence it is an environmental agreement between the government and 15 different organizations, including the NHO (The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise), Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, that allows companies with activities in Norway to pay a participant fee to the NOx Fund instead of paying NOx taxes while implementing environmental measures that reduce emissions.
(This article primarily compiled using information from a Fjord Line press release)