BunkeringContainersDry CargoTankers

Tankers and boxships lead LNG propulsion surge

Despite recent bad press the volume of ships being built with LNG propulsion continues to surge, as does the ports able to refuel these alternatively fuelled vessels.

In its latest weekly report, Alphatanker has come out in favour of LNG as a transitional fuel for shipping, arguing that it has significant pollutant-reducing credentials and emits up to 30% less CO2 compared with burning a standard oil-based marine fuel.

On the key issue of methane slip, something that has attracted criticism from many organisations including the World Bank and the International Energy Agency in recent months, Alphatanker argued that today’s low-pressure LNG-fuelled engines can reduce methane slip by around 50% compared with a first-generation low pressure engine. Moreover, the recent development of high-pressure engines can reduce methane slip by up to 80% compared with a first-generation low-pressure engine. Any legislation that takes aim at LNG-powered ships, Alphatanker predicted, would likely impact older LNG carriers which were the first adopters of LNG propulsion technology.

Alphatanker data clearly shows that containerships and tankers are the two sectors that have embraced LNG propulsion technology the most in recent years while gas fuelling options are set to grow by around 60% over the coming four years (see charts and map below).

As of the end of last month, Clarksons data shows there were 704 ships trading, representing 0.7% of the global merchant fleet, that are capable of using LNG. In terms of the global orderbook however a sizeable 28.8% in gt terms will come out of yards as LNG capable.

In recent weeks, many dual fuel ships have switched to traditional bunker fuel as the price of LNG has soared across the planet.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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