Germany’s Schulte Group has unveiled its next-generation design for an LNG bunker vessel that is said to meet current and known future requirements for at-sea LNG bunker deliveries and reduces last-mile costs.
Presented at Gastech Exhibition and Conference in Milan, the vessel design eliminates the need for fenders and spacer pontoons, which require time and manpower to deploy manually, in favor of an integrated outrigging system that is compatible with any vessel type and can be operational in five minutes with the push of a button, the shipping group said.
Schulte said the vessel can be operated by a smaller crew and fits with all known and soon-to-come LNG-fuelled vessels. It also features warming-up, gas freeing and aeration equipment to prepare LNG-fuelled vessels for drydock, and flexible design options geared towards reducing the capex and opex costs for owners and operators, ultimately achieving low last-mile costs for the industry.
“We examined the market’s current requirements and recognised the need for a straightforward LNG fuel vessel that reduces the cost of last-mile delivery for vessel operators. We have gone back to the drawing board and defined the operational specifications of what the ideal LNG bunker vessel should offer, doing away with any additional or unnecessary gear and cumbersome operations,” stated Johan Lillieskold, gas solutions specialist, LNG Competence Centre, at Schulte Group during his conference presentation at Gastech.
As ship owners and operators seek to reduce emissions from their operations, LNG is becoming a more popular fuel option. While some LNG bunkers are currently delivered from shore-based trucks to ships berthed alongside, Schulte predicted that LNG sea-based deliveries will eventually dominate supply to merchant and cruise LNG-fueled vessels.
“The current arrangements for LNG bunkers, both land-based and sea-based, will not be sufficient or suitable for the increasing volume of LNG-fuelled tonnage planned for future years. This new flexible vessel design will serve both today’s tonnage and future newbuilds,” added Lillieskold.
The vessel has been designed with future upgrades in mind, such as a battery hybrid solution or hydrogen retrofit option. “In combination with a battery hybrid solution and shore power, depending on the operation profile, the vessel could operate largely carbon-emissions free,” the company said.