“LNG is the fuel for development and progress, a safe bet for the future.” – Flemish Minister Hilde Crevits
During the mission of Flanders Port Area to Vietnam and Singapore from 9 to 13 November led by Flemish Minister Hilde Crevits, the ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate the supply of LNG to the shipping trade. LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is considered the marine fuel of the future in view of the fact that it allows the shipping trade to meet stricter standards for ships’ sulphur emissions without impacting competitiveness.
The MOU, which will be in force for three years, includes co-operation in the following areas:
- To harmonise the procedures related to liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering in order to facilitate the acceptance of LNG bunker for shipping.
- To exchange information on matters related to LNG as a shipping fuel, such as LNG infrastructure, communication to stakeholders, accreditation of bunkering operators.
- To exchange information pertaining to bunkering procedures and regulatory framework.
- To identify common areas of interests to set up joint research and development programmes.
The signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Transport, in the presence of Mrs Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, and Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Singapore’s Minister for Transport.
The shipping trade is increasingly seeing LNG as a new fuel for ships. This is largely attributable to the stricter limits the International Maritime Organization will enforce from 2015 onwards for the sulphur emissions of ships in so-called Sulphur Emission Control Areas. Among others, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea fall within such areas. Under these same regulations sulphur limits will also drop sharply as from 2020 outside of these locations.
Complying with these stricter standards is a major challenge for the maritime industry as it may result in additional costs. LNG is a worthwhile solution for complying with the stricter emission standards while ensuring the competitiveness of the shipping trade. In this context, ports are confronted with the challenge of safely storing LNG and making it available to ships. For this reason, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge will cooperate with the Port of Singapore going forward.
Last week, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and Lloyd’s Register announced completion of their joint study on the Technical Standards and Procedures for LNG bunkering in the Port of Singapore.
Collaboration is Faster and Better
As the world’s largest bunkering port, Singapore attaches great importance to the impact of its operations on the environment and countless initiatives are under way to increase the port’s sustainability. Making LNG available as a shipping fuel is part of this strategy. The Flemish ports are also making significant efforts to ensure their operations are more sustainable. For example, the Antwerp port community recently presented its second sustainability report which looks at the steps that Antwerp has already undertaken to allow ships to bunker LNG in the Scheldt port by 2015. However, such an ambition also brings several challenges with it, including the safe supply of this shipping fuel. The three ports have signed a cooperation agreement to effectively rise to this challenge.
Flemish Minister Hilde Crevits: “The energy we use daily is the outcome of continuous technological progress and long-term investments. Due to their complexity and scale, transitions in the global energy markets are not measured in months or years but in decades. Today, the maritime world is on the eve of such an energy transition which promises a cleaner future. In order for transport over water to progress in a sustainable manner, the hazardous and polluting emissions produced by burning shipping fuel must be reduced. LNG is environmentally friendly and by far the cheapest alternative to heavy fuel oil. You could say that LNG is the fuel for development and progress, a safe bet for the future. I am therefore very happy that the ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and the world’s largest bunkering port, the Port of Singapore, are going to work together to make LNG available as a fuel to the shipping trade as efficiently and rapidly as possible. By collaborating with another global player Flanders can maintain its leading position in Europe in the development of LNG infrastructure.”
Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of the Antwerp Port Authority: “The Port of Antwerp wishes to encourage as well as facilitate the use of LNG as a shipping fuel. That is why we have been working on developing bunkering procedures for quite some time and recently also took the first steps towards the development of an LNG bunkering ship. A partnership with an international maritime player like Singapore will allow us to take our knowledge and know-how in this field to a higher level.”
“Zeebrugge also wishes to play a pioneering role in the use of LNG as a shipping fuel. Together with Fluxys and various private partners the port authority has been working for several years on a number of pilot projects for the introduction of LNG as a shipping fuel. Moreover, the port is also developing facilities for loading LNG trucks as well as preparing the construction of a bunkering barge. The expansion of the natural gas terminal with a new jetty for loading and unloading will make our natural gas hub even more competitive as of 2015” according to Joachim Coens, CEO of the Port of Zeebrugge.
Why LNG is the shipping fuel of the future
LNG is increasingly looking like an attractive solution for complying with stricter emission standards. Compared with the heavy fuel mostly used today, low-sulphur marine diesel is an extremely costly alternative, as is equipping vessels with desulphurising installations, a technology that is still under development. LNG by contrast has a better pricing structure, its sulphur and fine particle emissions are negligible, and carbon emissions are cut by 15-20%.
Flanders is one of the European leaders in the development of LNG as a shipping fuel. It is recommended that we maintain this position and further invest in the development of the framework required to offer LNG in Flemish sea ports.
(Sources: Port of Zeebrugge and MPA Singapore)