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New concept for ammonia-ready LNG-fuelled VLCC gets stamp of approval

A partnership between China Merchants Energy Shipping (CMES), TotalEnergies, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DSIC) and French membrane containment system designer GTT has developed a new concept design for an ammonia-ready LNG dual-fuelled very large crude carrier (VLCC).

The project, launched in 2021 to evaluate the environmental, financial, technical and regulatory implications, resulted in a new generation of VLCCs with a fuel tank below the main deck to avoid exposure to bad weather, and the risk of piracy while lowering the centre of gravity of the propulsion systems.

This new concept, which has received approval in principle from the French class society Bureau Veritas (BV), integrates GTT’s Mark III membrane containment technology and an LNG storage tank compatible with liquid ammonia fuel and a flexible capacity of 9,000 to 14,000 cu m. This gives the vessel a minimum endurance with LNG fuel of 23,000 nautical miles and 17,000 nautical miles for ammonia at the design conditions.

“This concept of multi-fuel VLCC with enhanced endurance not only enables safer and more efficient operations, but also offers greater bunkering flexibility for shipowners and charterers towards a carbon-free future,” commented Adnan Ezzarhouni, general manager of GTT.

The vessel would comply with key environmental requirements with an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) more than 40% below the baseline, NOx emissions meet the IMO’s Tier III needs, and its Carbon Intensity Index (CII) is projected to be rated A by 2030, the partners said.

“The achievement today is a milestone in CMES’ path to zero-carbon shipping. With all the support and trust from our partners TotalEnergies, GTT, BV and DSIC shipyard, we are confident in making this latest generation of VLCC come true soon,” added Wu Jianyi, CMES’ technical director.

Additional costs to enable VLCCs to run on LNG rather than conventional fuel are about $20m, with around $2m extra needed at the newbuilding stage to make the vessel ready for a future retrofit to ammonia, class society DNV found earlier this year following a joint industry project with TotalEnergies, Samsung Heavy Industries, and a major Asian energy shipping company.

Yards offering ammonia-fuelled ship designs are growing in number, with South Korea, Japan and China leading the race, with several approvals in principle awarded for ammonia-fuelled VLCCs. In April, a consortium of nine Japanese shipbuilders also unveiled an ammonia-ready LNG panamax bulk carrier, operated as dual-fuelled with heavy fuel oil (HFO).

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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