Wessels to Convert 1,000 TEU Containership to LNG

| Germany, Haren

Wes Amelie (to be converted to LNG in 2016)German shipping management company Wessels Reederei GmbH, in collaboration with engine manufacturer MAN Diesel & Turbo and gas specialist TGW Marine Gas Engineering, have been investigating over two years the main engine conversion options for propulsion systems, determining the best option was to transition from heavy fuel oil to low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG). Now a government grant from the Federal ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) will enable the retrofit to go ahead.

Wessels was honored by Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary State Secretary BMVI with a seven-figure government grant for retrofitting their container ship “WES AMELIE” (1,000 TEU), making the ship the first of its kind worldwide to be converted to an LNG propulsion system, the press release states. Funding was provided through the Mobility and Fuel Strategy federal program which promotes the maritime use of LNGs as an environmentally friendly fuel.

Through the utilization of LNG, the pollutant emissions will be drastically reduced (sulfur oxide (SOx) approx. >99%, nitrogen oxide (NOx) approx. 90%, CO2 up to 20%).

“For many years our shipping company has been committed to ‘Green Shipping’ – through the development and implementation of more efficient alternative propulsion systems. With the conversion to LNG we and our partners showcase our technical expertise and demonstrate practical environmental solutions for the merchant marine industry”, said Gerd Wessels, Managing Owner of Wessels Reederei GmbH.

The “WES AMELIE” is a modern, 1,000 TEU feeder vessel that was launched in 2011 and operates in the North and Baltic Seas. When selecting the vessel for conversion, special attention was paid to the scalability of the engineering services as well as the development costs, reducing significantly the costs for follow-up projects. The “WES AMELIE” has 23 sister ships, 16 of them structurally identical, which allows follow-up projects to be easily implemented. This ship therefore facilitates a multiplier effect, with sufficient quantities of conversion capable vessels on the European continent.

The use of LNG as fuel requires the availability of liquefied natural gas on shipping and trade routes. The existing LNG infrastructure (liquefaction plants, storage capacity, bunker facilities) in even high-traffic ports is not nearly sufficient enough for full coverage of ships under LNG operation. The BMVI funded project contributes to the resolution of this “chicken or the egg problem” by promoting the demand for LNG as fuel for the maritime industry, through a demand-generating flagship project.

Due to the long delivery time of LNG tanks the rebuilding will commence in Q4 2016. Full operational usage of LNG as fuel is planned for early December 2016.

“By converting one of our ships, we demonstrate together with the Federal Government and our partners: ‘German shipping is able to do LNG’. With each rebuild we finish together, we are creating an increasing demand for LNG as a clean fuel. Only in this way – and not only through appeals – can the development of an LNG infrastructure continue to gain momentum”, said Christian P. Hoepfner, General Manager of Wessels Reederei, demonstrating his resolve at the federal ministry meeting.

Parliamentary State Secretary Enak Ferlemann added: “With this funding measure, the federal government continues its steady contribution to the development of an efficient LNG infrastructure
in Germany. Our goal with this new technology is to significantly reduce the CO2 and pollutant emissions at sea. With the LNG conversion already integrated in ships currently in service, in collaboration with the maritime sector, we provide an important impulse for the development of ‘Made in Germany’ LNG technology.”

(Source: Wessels Reederei GmbH)

Editor Note: BMVI published a short study LNG as an alternative fuel for the operation of ships and heavy-duty vehicles on March 6, 2014. The study identified a promising perspective for LNG application as an alternative fuel in ship transport and HDVs. It recommended special efforts should be directed towards the integration of renewable energies into these modes of transport.

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