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Coalition highlights LNG as ‘most commercially viable’ maritime fuel

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LNG is the most commercially viable alternative fuel for the global maritime industry, according to research published by multi-sector industry coalition SEA/LNG.

The report, conducted by Norwegian standards agency DNV GL, suggests that introducing LNG “could significantly reduce emissions and impacts”, as well as cut environmental risks associated with spills of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and other marine oils.

“There is no magic elixir out there today which can address all of the industry’s fuelling woes. Instead, it is critical for the industry to focus on current solutions which drive onwards along a pathway to success. LNG is the most commercially viable fuel available today which can provide this pathway,” Peter Keller, SEALNG Chairman, said.

Legislation needed

Despite the technical case for increased LNG uptake, the commercial realities and inherent capital requirements have limited uptake to date.

“it is not likely that any major uptake of expensive alternative fuels with significant GHG reduction potential can be expected until required by regulations or heavily incentivized,” the authors of the DNV GL report note.

New sulphur regulations from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), set to enter force on 1 January 2020, are expected to provide “a positive boost” for LNG, as it drives an increased number of shipping lines looking to switch to the fuel.

“We read about the challenges that the ship-owners face every day with compliance. Every day we also read about yet another possible solution as the industry moves forward to implement these new guidelines. The concerns surrounding availability of compliant fuel, compatibility, and yes, cost, will all be resolved in due time,” Keller commented.

BioLNG potential

Alongside the benefits of LNG, Keller expounded the outlook for further future reductions in emissions from ships that have switched to LNG, thanks to the implementation of bio-fuels.

“One obvious roadway to maritime carbon reduction is LNG. Perhaps not the one fuel for a zero-carbon future, but it does move us in the right direction. It is available and scalable today, not decades away. For maritime fuels that means LNG now for positive air quality benefits… followed by additional introduction of Bio LNG, which is being actively developed on a broader scale, and then potentially synthetic LNG,” Keeler explained. 

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