Counting Down to Gas Fuelled Ships 2016

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The seventh instalment of the annual Gas Fuelled Ships conference takes place in Hamburg, at the Grand Elysee Hotel on 16-18 November.  The Motorship previews an innovation-packed agenda.

The ages’ old discussions between stakeholders waiting for either the LNG vessels needed to justify investment in bunkering infrastructure, or the infrastructure required to make gas-powered vessels viable, over the past year there has been a sense of real progress.  And that movement comes despite the low oil price (until last month’s surge) that has persuaded many to downgrade their expectations on the uptake of LNG as marine fuel.

The progress has often come from ‘closed loop’ shipping operations (such as Tote’s trade between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico), short sea shipping (the Ferguson-built dual-fuel ferries for CMAL in Scotland are a good example) or seller-buyer tie ups (like the Zeebrugge deal for Engie, Mitsubishi Corp and NYK to provide ship-to-ship bunkering for two LNG-fuelled PCTCs jointly owned by NYK and Wallenius Lines).  But early adopters need a higher degree of certainty, and the projects are no less bold for taking advantage of existing relationships or being tightly defined in scope.

They also play a key role in building experience for the industry, and delegates to the Gas Fuelled Ships Conference, now in its seventh year, will hear from many of them in Hamburg this month.  One of the highlights of the event this year is an on-stage interview with Peter Keller.  As executive vice president of Tote Inc, he has an unrivalled perspective on the challenges of establishing a complete ecosystem for gas-fuelled ships, from handling policy and regulatory aspects to establishing bunkering operations and overseeing both newbuild and retrofit gas-powered vessels.  As the chairman of the new SEA\LNG consortium, Tote and 14 other gas pioneers now plan to offer their experience to other stakeholders in an earlier stage of considering LNG as marine fuel.

Regional progress

Today we are starting to see a greater number of moves from regulators and regional authorities to encourage the use of LNG.  By this month, all European Union member states (including, for now, the UK) are required to submit national policy frameworks for the implementation of the EU alternative fuels directive.  Gas bunkering infrastructure is likely to be a key component for several of those countries. Providing an update on European infrastructure projects at the conference will be Richard Schröder, commercial director, Bomin Linde, who will also provide an insight into how those initiatives will be funded.

In Singapore, the first two LNG bunkering contracts are due to commence next year, with the Maritime Ports Authority investing in developing practices and procedures as well as incentivising the use of gas fuel.  Japan and South Korea are also examining how best to implement bunkering.

But arguably the biggest market for LNG vessels – in number of vessels if not size – is China. The country is in the early stage of implementing its own policies to encourage the uptake of gas as a marine fuel.  This is set to offer huge opportunities for Chinese designers, shipyards and China-based system manufacturers, Ling Deng, ship type expert – gas carrier and LNG as fuel, DNV GL will provide a focus on the latest experiences from LNG-fuelled vessels built in the country.

Independent of these infrastructure developments we are seeing a wider range of vessel applications for gas as fuel.  Last year we heard about Carnival Corp’s perspective on LNG, which has come to radical fruition this year with a total of seven LNG-fuelled cruise vessels now on order.  The recent news of Royal Caribbean’s order of two LNG-fuelled vessels from Meyer Turku indicates that the cruise sector could be a very important driver of the growing demand for gas fuel.  At the conference, Jochen Schmidt-Luessmann, senior cryogenic engineer, Marine Service and Finn Vogler, senior engineer development, Caterpillar Motoren, will present a concept for the fuel gas system and dual-fuel engines onboard cruise vessels, including gas monitoring, handling, automation and emergency shutdown.

Shipbuilding experiences

The Greek Project Forward, spearheaded by Arista Shipping and with the involvement of ABS, GTT< Deltamarin and Wärtsilä, is preparing a dual-fuelled bulk carrier design with the range needed to bunker only at major ports. Another dual presentation, from Konstantinos Fakiolas of Deltamarin and Antonis Trakakis, technical director, Arista Shipping, will provide an update on the project.

The world’s first LNG-powered icebreaker has only recently been delivered in Finland, marking another new vessel type to unlock the potential of gas fuel.  Talking about that ground-breaking project at Gas Fuelled Ships will be both builder and designer – Markku Kajosaari, senior vice-president of sales, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard and Mika Hovilainen of Aker Arctic Technology – who will share details on how the special hull form and propulsion arrangement will minimise ice resistance and maximise the icebreaking capacity of the vessel.

As has been widely reported, the first LNG-powered inland shipping tanker has been developed by Damen Shipyards, to deliver much-needed fuel economy for inland shipping operators while at the same time cutting emissions, using sustainable innovations.  Simon Provoost, Product Director, inland waterway transport, Damen Shipyards will present the Damen EcoLiner, looking at the many new technologies involved including the world’s first installations of the ACES air-lubricated hull.

Engine developments

This being a propulsion-driven conference as well as a gas-fuelled one, the latest engine concepts for LNG and low-flashpoint fuels will also occupy a central position. We are privileged to offer important updates from many of the market’s main engine designers. MAN Diesel & Turbo’s René Sejer Laursen will present an update on the company’s ME-GI and ME-LGI two-stroke engines, as well as providing an in-depth look at the first application of methanol-fuelled low-speed engines onboard Waterfront Shipping Company’s methanol carriers. Rudolf Wettstein, general manager, WinGD, will offer a glimpse into the latest technology developments, and the first applications, of the company’s low-pressure X-DF dual-fuel technology.

On the four-stroke side, in addition to presentation from Caterpillar and Marine Service on propulsion and gas handling for cruise ships, the conference will examine recent gas developments from Kawasaki Heavy Industries.  Yosuke Nonaka, manager four stroke diesel engine section will show how the company has adapted its stationary KG engine for marine use.  In another session, a tripartite presentation – from Paul Melles, managing director Rederij Doeksen; Mark Schiller, CEO, Strategic Marine and Peter Friedl, senior expert product management mobile gas engines, Rolls-Royce – will examine the project for two newbuild ferries on the Dutch Waddenzee to employ MTU pure-gas engines.

The regulatory environment and the cost of fuel remain crucial considerations for ship owners and port authorities discussing the introduction of gas fuel.  One of the single most items for both these issues at present is the IMO’s global cap on fuel sulfur.  By the time of the conference a decision will have been reached on whether that cap – which could have a dramatic impact on fuel availability – will be introduced in 2020 or 2025.  Looking at the results of that decision for the Gas Fuelled Ships Conference will be Jasper Faber, coordinator aviation and shipping at CE Delft, which has produced the IMO report on which the decision will likely be based.

Ship owner perspectives

The perspectives of ship owners will no doubt have a bearing across most of these presentations, particularly the several case studies of new vessels and infrastructure, and will be reinforced by presentations from Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy secretary general of BIMCO, and Michael Ippich, chairman of German shipowners’ association VDR’s nautical-technical committee and managing director, of Reederei Hartmann.

These presentations will be complemented by a wide range of explorations of new LNG technology and important updates on safety.  It promises to be a fascinating event.

There will be networking opportunities aplenty for delegates to discuss their learnings and make new contacts.

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Source: Motor Ship