Home / Shipping News / Interviews / LNG ship fuels are gathering momentum, in shipping industry’s effort to reduce harmful emissions

LNG ship fuels are gathering momentum, in shipping industry’s effort to reduce harmful emissions

In a multi-tier market that differentiates between vessels based on their efficiency, the newly bred “Eco-Ships” will result in significantly improved employment opportunities and earnings for these energy optimised vessels, says Mr. Athanasios Reisopoulos, Vice President, Area Office Southern Europe of Germanischer Lloyd Hellas M.E.P.E. In an interview with Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide, Mr. Reisopoulos discussed the latest measures in effect regarding reducing emissions and better streamlining a ship owner’s operations, the prospects of LNG as a leading shipping fuel, as well as GL’s market-leading products and services, aimed at aiding ship owners achieve better fuel-efficiency.

Among the key issues that the shipping industry is facing today has to do with the reduction of shipping emissions, which not only benefits the environment, but also ship owners, since they can reduce their operating costs, through the respective fall in fuel consumption. What types of package services does GL offer ship owners towards this direction?

Reducing the emissions from the shipping industry is the focus of a great deal of imminent regulation and software systems that help to give owners and charterers a transparent and comprehensive assessment of the environmental performance of their vessels are in ever greater use. Not only in terms of emissions to air, where Sulphur limits will soon come into place, but in terms of ballast water, other liquid waste and solid rubbish.
There are a number of operational systems that aid efficiency and reducing environmental impacts already in use today including: trim optimisation, engine system performance optimisation, weather routing, voyage execution and performance monitoring. GL’s SeaScout system is an integrated onboard system that provides ships’ officers with decision-making support.
GL also recently launched the new GL EmissionManager system to track and record the total picture of a vessel’s or an entire fleet’s emissions. The system can record and analyse all emissions, including the environmental, operational and state data. This can then be used to build up a picture of the vessel, and used for comparison purposes within a fleet, as well as to support certification and approval applications.
Input into the system can be triggered by events and the process ensures data quality through plausibility and completeness checks. Collected by an onboard recorder this data is transferred to GL’s “Green Server” where it can be accessed securely via the web. GL’s FleetManager analysis software can then generate reports for entire or individual fleets, which can be accessed by the ship owner or operator.
FutureShip, GL’s consulting subsidiary offers a number of services and products, including the award winning ECO-Assistant trim optimiser. Trim is one of the central drivers of energy efficiency in ship operation and the system delivers an optimum trim angle for a specific ship with the input of only a few simple operational parameters, such as current speed, displacement and water depth. It can be applied to all kinds of vessels, including container vessels and bulk carriers and installed on any computer, requiring no modifications to the ship and no interfaces with the vessel’s systems.

During 2013 a number of new regulations are expected to come into force, which are going to impact the day-to-day operation of shipping companies. Could you highlight the most important ones and how do you think they are going to impact the maritime business?

An increased focus on the environmental performance of the maritime industry as a whole has led to the introduction of the first global industry wide measures to combat CO2 emissions – the EEDI and the SEEMP. These measures, took effect at the beginning of 2013, will have a sweeping effect on most of the world’s commercial sea going vessels and owners must be prepared for their introduction.
Envisioned as a management tool to assist a company in improving energy efficiency of ships in operation, a SEEMP must be specific for each ship in a fleet and should be used together with established environmental management systems. A SEEMP allows companies to reduce fuel consumption through simple operational measures and making investments that can improve performance and pay off in reduced costs.
The SEEMP has the potential to enhance the deployment of data sharing and the modern software tools that go along with the sophisticated analysis of a vessel’s and a fleet’s performance. It also seems certain to increase the commercial pressure on inefficient operators as companies which take advantage of fuel saving measures are driven to maximise their efficiencies. Vessels with a SEEMP in place has already shown to make marked improvements in fuel consumption and as the processes and systems become more familiar to the shipping industry this seems certain to grow.
On the other hand the EEDI will continue to develop and improve and its full application will really only be seen in the future as ever more efficient vessels. Increasingly, however, we are seeing that clients are coming to GL for early certification of their vessels, and in some cases their entire fleets, as they see the EEDI as a way to demonstrate the investments they have made in efficiency gains in their vessels.
The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006) will also have a significant impact on shipowners, managers, crewing agencies and most importantly the seafarers on-board. With its entry into force this year, the MLC 2006 will consolidate some 37 ILO conventions and require the certification of over 55,000 seagoing vessels. Preparing for this sea change will require a massive adjustment and impact on every level of an organisation. Around 50,000 ships will have to be inspected and certified before the MLC 2006 enters into force.
The MLC 2006 Convention requires the documentation of many crewing processes including: checking that all required positions on board filled, that the seafarers are medically fit, well trained and qualified for the duties they are assigned to, and that records are maintained of the seafarers’ daily hours of work and rest.

LNG is among the most promising new fuels soon to be widely available to ship owners who wish to use this as their vessels’ leading energy source. GL has long been campaigning for the benefits from the use of LNG as a shipping fuel. Which are the benefits of this fuel, both in terms of costs entailed, as well as environmentally?

LNG fuelled ships will have overall lower Co2 emissions. However the real benefit from LNG comes in terms of local emissions – SOx, NOx and particulates and this is where it has the greatest advantages over HFO. An LNG fuelled vessel will also have a better EEDI. In the absence of methane slip, LNG has a lower carbon content than standard HFO and therefore assuming all other design characteristics are equal a LNG fuelled ship will have a better EEDI.
As ever the prime consideration in LNG adoption will be fuel price, as we can see from the MAN/GL containership study. The actual fuel cost we will see delivered depends upon how the bunkering and infrastructure develops, as well as the overall gas market as gas becomes increasingly important for power generation around the world.

Do you believe that the infrastructure necessary to implement LNG bunkering is available at the moment? When do you expect this market to fully develop?

I think we can clearly see from the growing emphasis in the industry and the steady flow of news reports that LNG as a ship fuel is really starting to gather momentum. So I expect that over the next few years we will see an increasingly rapid uptake of this technology, spreading at first from areas where ECAs will soon enter into force and then as bunkering infrastructure grows and spreads from regional through to the major trade routes.
The publication of the EU Clean Fuel Strategy also shows how this development might progress, with the plan proposing that LNG refuelling stations be installed in all 139 maritime and inland ports on the Trans European Core Network by 2020 and 2025 respectively. So in the next 5 to 10 year I think we can expect to have a market that is fairly well developed.

2012 saw the emergence of the so-called “Eco Ships” in the market, which are usually commanding a premium price, versus more conventional new building vessels. Many ship owners still appear to be sceptical towards those vessels, claiming that their advertised benefits in terms of fuel consumption are still unproven. What’s your view on this? Are Eco Ships going to dominate the market in the coming years and why?

In a word – YES. A split between newly optimized Eco ships and less efficient tonnage has the potential of splitting the world fleet into the haves and have-nots. Fuel efficiency is now the biggest lever to increase cost competitiveness with bunkers costs rising to more than one third of a vessel’s total operating costs. The best operators have already taking note of this trend, with a study conducted by GL’s consultancy subsidiary FutureShip revealing that the differences in design efficiency in major container liner fleets was substantial. Top players in the market were designing and building vessels to the IMO’s 2025 EEDI reference line today – some 30% more efficient that the average vessel. The new GL class Carisbrooke Super Green 8500 Vessels, for example, utilised a number of features which resulted in a 30% lower EEDI. The four dry cargo vessels have a hydro-dynamically optimized hull form, special bow form, and an extremely large and efficient ducted propeller, all of which result in an extremely efficient vessel..
In a multi-tier market that differentiates between vessels based on their efficiency, this will result in significantly improved employment opportunities and earnings for energy optimised vessels. These benefits stem from three sources: the design of new vessels for lower speed, the utilization of state-of- the-art optimisation technology and services, and significantly lower newbuilding prices. With the entry of optimised vessels into the market, cost pressures on existing vessels will continue to mount, making the importance of making efficiency gains, especially in operational strategies, increasingly important.
We are already seeing owner/operators – Maersk in a notable example in 2012 – refitting relatively new existing ships to make them more efficient for slower speed operation. This is a trend that is not going away and the best operators are already well ahead on this front.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

Recent Videos

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide Online Daily Newspaper on Hellenic and International Shipping