Natural Gas As A Preferred Fuel For Shipping Companies



The North American ocean carrier, TOTE is setting out the world’s first container ships fueled by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) complying to the environmental regulations and is setting the benchmarks for the maritime shipping industry.

The North American ocean carrier, TOTE has complied with the international Marpol Annex VI maritime emissions standards, for the limits on emissions like sulfur and nitrogen oxide within designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs) of North America.

The International Council on Clean Transportation has suggested that the ocean shipping industry accounts for 8% of global emissions of sulfur dioxide due to its huge dependence on affordable heavy fuel oil which is remnants of the crude oil refining process. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are produced in huge volumes by conventional maritime ships, a probable reason for acid rain. These emissions also have serious effects on human health causing around 12,000 and 31,000 U.S. deaths per year due to maritime pollution.

Isla Bella, the first LNG-fueled ship of TOTE, constructed by General Dynamics NASSCO is due for the voyage for its planned route between Puerto Rico and Jacksonville, Florida in this year. A second ship, Marlin class, which is expected to be completed by early 2016, would ply on the same route. TOTE has claimed that these ships will release 98 percent less nitrogen oxide, 97 percent less sulfur, and 72 percent less carbon dioxide as compared to conventional ships.

The ship-owners have a handful of choices in meeting the Marpol Annex VI standards. They can use higher-grade fuel, or install scrubbing technologies comparable to a car’s catalytic converter.  However, these options prove to be more expensive.

LNG ships also have its own sets of issues like lack of infrastructure for getting LNG fuel into ships. Despite these challenges, many other players are coming up with their ships founded on LNG as a predominant maritime fuel. There would be a huge market for the LNG ship manufacturing and its fueling facilities as confirmed by Chiarello, Korean Energy Ministry.