“LNG-fueled cargo ships will be emerging on a large scale in the latter half of this decade.” Dr. Gerd-Michael Wuersig, Germanischer Lloyd
DSME and Germanischer Lloyd (GL) have proved the feasibility of running large container vessels on LNG in a recently completed joint project. At a press conference held during the Kormarine Trade Fair in Busan, both parties announced the progress they have made towards developing LNG-fuelled large container vessels. GL has recently finished approval in Principle of a 14,000 TEU LNG-fuelled container vessel for DSME.
“New technology is needed as cleaner transport is increasingly demanded and maritime environmental regulations are becoming ever stricter,” said Mr. Frederick Ebers, Vice President and Area Manager for North East Asia, GL, when he kicked off the press conference. “DSME and GL have acknowledged this challenge and agreed in 2010 to jointly start exploring technology options and safety concepts for large LNG-fuelled container vessels.”
Following Mr. Seo from DSME, who demonstrated the design concept of this LNG-fuelled container vessel, Dr. Gerd-Michael Wuersig elaborated on the safety concepts involved. Dr. Wuersig is Deputy Head of Environmental Research Department of GL and also a member of IMO Correspondence Group for the development of the Code for Gas as Ship Fuel (IGF-Code).
He pointed out that most technical systems have been developed and examined and the major challenge lies in how to apply these technologies, especially the one ensuring safe bunkering procedures. “You have to guarantee there is no gas spill and protection measures against incidents and collisions are sufficient. Relevant solutions are under evaluation and will be available soon,” he said.
In addition, Dr. Wuersig said there is no reason to hesitate with building of LNG-powered vessels provided they are built within the ‘IMO Resolution MSC.285(86) Interim Guidelines on Safety for Natural Gas-Fuelled Engine Installations in Ships’. He explained MSC. 285(86), developed with the assistance of GL, will certainly be allowed to operate even if IGF-Code is enforced.
The IMO has agreed to reduce SOX emissions by controlling the Sulphur content in marine fuels from 2015 onwards, and for new vessels operating in ECAs (emission control areas), 80% reduction of NOX emissions versus 2010 level is required starting from 2016. “This will make conventional fuel unattractive. But LNG can be an environmentally and economically sound option due to its high efficiency and lower impact on environment,” said Dr. Wuersig.
Dr. Wuersig is convinced that a new era of LNG vessels is set to come. “LNG-fueled cargo ships will be emerging on a large scale in the latter half of this decade,” he predicted. “And there is a great potential for container ships to become one of the first cargo vessels using LNG as ship fuel.”
GL has also published guidelines for gas used as ship fuel. Currently, GL is involved in converting a 25,000 dwt product tanker “Bit Viking” into the first GL-classed gas-fuelled ship.
DSME has also participated in a joint research project with A.P. Moller Maersk which addressed the design and technical issues surrounding the use of a 7,000 TEU containership burning LNG as fuel for both propulsion and power generation, with the America Bureau of Shipping (ABS) providing ‘Approval in Principle’ for the resulting design in May 2011.
(This article primarily compiled using information from a GL Group press release)