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New study shows LNG can reduce shipping GHG emissions by up to 21%

A new study jointly commissioned by SEA\LNG and Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) has revealed that greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of up to 21 percent are achievable now from Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a marine fuel, compared with current oil-based marine fuels over the entire life-cycle from Well-to-Wake (WtW). Additionally, bioLNG and synthetic LNG – both fully interchangeable with fossil-derived LNG – offer the potential for significant additional GHG emissions reduction.

In November 2018, M/S Tern Sea belonging to Gothenburg-based shipping company Terntank became the very first operator to bunker liquefied gas – liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied biogas (LBG) –  at a new bunkering facility at the Port of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Launched on April 11, 2019, the independent study report “Life Cycle GHG Emission Study on the Use of LNG as Marine Fuel” was carried out by Germany-headed data and consultancy provider thinkstep AG according to ISO standards. It has been peer-reviewed by a panel of leading academics experts from key institutions in France, Germany, Japan, and the USA making it a “definitive study into GHG emissions from current marine engines.”

The main goal of this study was to provide an accurate report of the life-cycle GHG emissions from LNG as a marine fuel compared with conventional marine fuels, said Dr Oliver Schuller, Team Lead Energy & Mobility at thinkstep.

Apart from finding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, the report also confirmed that emissions of other local pollutants, such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), are close to zero when using LNG compared with current conventional oil-based marine fuels.

The Life Cycle GHG Emission Study is a long-awaited piece of the “LNG as a marine fuel“ puzzle. It not only confirms what we already knew in terms of LNG’s immediate impact on air quality, human health, and its cleanliness but clearly highlights the genuine, substantiated GHG benefits of using today’s marine engines capable of burning natural gas. Moving from current Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to LNG does reduce GHG emissions. LNG does contribute to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) GHG reduction targets. And it is clear that LNG is the most environmentally-friendly marine fuel that is readily available and safe, both today and in the foreseeable future, said Peter Keller, Chairman SEA\LNG.

Benefits for both 2-stroke and 4-stroke marine engines

The report uses the latest primary data to assess all major types of marine engines and global sources of supply with quality data provided by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) including Caterpillar MaK, Caterpillar Solar Turbines, GE, MAN Energy Solutions, Rolls Royce (MTU), Wärtsilä, and Winterthur Gas & Diesel, as well as from ExxonMobil, Shell, and Total from the supply side.

On an engine technology basis, the absolute WtW emissions reduction benefits for LNG-fuelled engines compared with HFO fuelled ships today are between 14 percent to 21 percent for 2-stroke slow speed engines and between 7 percent to 15 percent for 4-stroke medium speed engines.

Top of Wärtsilä's 5RT-flex 50DF 2-stroke low-pressure dual fuel marine engine.

Top of Wärtsilä’s 5RT-flex 50DF 2-stroke low-pressure dual fuel marine engine. The report notes
that 72 percent of the marine fuel consumed today is by 2-stroke engines with a further 18 percent
used by 4-stroke medium speed engines.

LNG is safe to use, fully compliant and readily available as a marine transport fuel. Standards, guidelines and operational protocols are all in place to ensure that the safe way is the only way when using gas as a marine fuel. LNG meets and exceeds all current and 2020 marine fuel compliance requirements for content and emissions, local and GHG. With the world LNG Bunker Vessel fleet doubling in the next 18 months and those vessels being deployed at major bunkering hubs, LNG as a ship fuel is rapidly becoming readily available, said Chad Verret, Board Chairman, Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF).

Ongoing optimisation in supply chain and engine technology developments will further enhance the benefits of LNG as a marine fuel. Additionally, bioLNG and Synthetic LNG – both fully interchangeable with LNG derived from fossil feedstock – offer the potential for significant additional GHG emissions reductions.

For example, a blend of 20 percent bioLNG (aka liquefied biogas LBG or liquefied biomethane LBM) as a drop-in fuel can reduce GHG emissions by a further 13 percent when compared to 100 percent fossil-derived LNG.

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