Onboard a gas fuelled ship – conference will hear the story so far

‘Viking Grace’ – gas fuelled venue for GFS conference ‘Viking Grace’ – gas fuelled venue for GFS conference

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel for ships is coming ever more closely under the spotlight. The fourth Motorship Gas Fuelled Ships Conference - entitled ‘The prospects for LNG as a maritime fuel for the future’ - will take place onboard the cruise ferry ‘Viking Grace’ from 11-12 September 2013.

Among the highlights of the last Gas Fuelled Ships Conference, held in Bergen, Norway, in 2012, was a programme of technical visits, allowing delegates the chance to see, at first hand, an LNG bunkering facility, a gas terminal, and a ship actually taking on LNG fuel. The 2013 event is, in effect, one long technical visit, as it is being held onboard one of the latest and largest gas-fuelled ships afloat. Viking Grace, which operates between Sweden and Finland, has dual-fuel engines, but runs almost exclusively on LNG fuel. As part of the conference, delegates will be able to visit the engine room, view the machinery and the tanks, witness a bunkering operation, and see exactly how a gas fuelled ship operates. This is exactly why the organising team from Mercator Media, the publisher of The Motorship and GreenPort, considers the two-day Gas Fuelled Ships Conference to be a truly unique event.

The Gas Fuelled Ships Conference will provide ship owners and operators, engine manufacturers, ship designers, builders and suppliers, plus other key industry stakeholders with valuable information on the use of gaseous maritime fuels. Environmental and economic concerns - notably measures such as the 0.1% fuel sulphur limit in ECAs and the forthcoming 0.5% global sulphur limit, but not forgetting various regional measures to cut emissions in ports – mean that ship owners and operators have to act. These measures will affect all ships, however old. Carrying on as before and doing nothing is not an option.

By choosing to use gaseous rather than liquid fuels, emissions of sulphur and particulates will be cut to negligible levels, with substantial reductions in nitrogen oxides. Greenhouse gases too will be significantly reduced. But it is not just a matter of changing to a different type of fuel. Engines have to be designed and set up to burn either gas only or operate on dual, liquid and gas, fuel. And requirements for storage of gas fuel onboard are totally different from conventional diesel tanks. The use of such fuels brings about a whole new set of safety parameters. So a change to gas is not an easy option, though it looks more attractive year on year as the deadlines approach.

And neither is gas the only option for compliance with upcoming regulatory changes. It is obvious that the LNG solution will not be the best for all ship types and all operational patterns. The Gas Fuelled Ships conference will give shipping companies the information they need to make the right decision for them.

The ‘gas’ in ‘gas fuelled ships’ has become synonymous with LNG. But LNG is far from the only option. At least one major engine designer has recently stated that other low flashpoint fuels, including liquid petroleum gas (LPG) are likely to have a place in the future fuels portfolio. One big advantage of LPG is that it needs far less complex and costly onboard tanks than LNG, and it is the size and cost of the tanks that forms one of the major obstacles to LNG. Other often-quoted obstacles include the bunkering infrastructure and the supply chain – one valid reason for the choice of dual-fuel engines. But even where there is an established and assured supply of gas, is the technically more efficient single-fuel engine still the better choice, or is dual fuel still the right way to go? That debate raged strongly at the 2012 event, and shows no signs of having been resolved yet.

And are we there yet with the safety and regulatory considerations? What are the economics of running on gas – not just the cost of the fuel itself, it still being very much an unknown quantity just how much will be the price differential between LNG, HFO and MDO – but the extra capital investment in the ships and their engines? When will the supply chain actually be complete, and what are the ports doing to encourage LNG bunkering facilities? How can we finance the considerable additional capital expenditure of a new gas-fuelled ship over a conventional ship, and what will be the implications in the charter markets? These are the sorts of questions that will be addressed, as they have at previous Gas Fuelled Ships conferences, and every year a more complete set of answers is presented.

The two day conference will includes technical presentations and case studies, among them:

• Operators’ case studies:
- Kari Granberg, project manager – NB1376, Viking Grace
- Oscar Bergheim, head of LNG fuelled ferries, Fjord1
- Ed De Jong, business development, Deen Shipping

• Bringing LNG to the bunker market – technologies and infrastructure – Jűrgen Harperscheidt, sales manager, TGE Marine Gas Engineering

• Environmental regulations in the maritime industry – banker’s perspective – Fredrik Mordal Hessen, assistant vice president – shipping, offshore and logistics, DNB Bank

• Operational experience of LNG bunkering and LNG fuel storage – Mathias Jansson, LNGPac product manager, Wärtsilä Oil & Gas

• Greenstream – the first barge powered entirely by LNG – Johan Winjnsma, purchase manager, Peters Shipyard

During the two return crossings between Stockholm and Turku, delegates will not be confined to the Viking Grace’s extensive and well-appointed conference facilities. They will, as mentioned above, have the opportunity to participate in technical visits including a tour of the Viking Grace’s engine room, which is powered by Wärtsilä engines running on LNG, and see the same supplier’s LNGPac system, and also to experience live ship-to-ship bunkering whilst in Stockholm, between the supplier AGA and the Viking Grace.

Sailing from Stockholm early on 11 September 2013 and arriving in the evening at Turku, the Viking Grace will return to Stockholm overnight, from where it will then depart again for Turku for the second day of the conference, 12 September 2013, finally returning to Stockholm early on 13 September 2013. To simplify the booking process, the delegate fee for this year's event includes the two day conference, two nights' accommodation on board in a Seaview cabin, full board (including the Conference Gala Dinner and Buffet dinner on the second night), as well as full technical documentation.

Professionals looking to gain valuable information on using LNG as a maritime fuel, including ship owners and operators, policy makers, engine manufacturers, LNG carriers, LNG suppliers, ship builders, classification societies, ship designers, ship yards and port & terminal operators, should confirm their attendance now – there is an early bird delegate rate available until 31 July 2013.

The chairman for the first day of the conference will be Martin L Shaw, managing director, Marine Operations and Assurance Management Solutions (MOAMS), and former director of SEAaT and technical vice president of BP Shipping. One the second day, the chair will be taken by Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy secretary general, BIMCO.

The first session will concentrate on an update of the regulatory issues, while the second will examine the economic reasons for opting for LNG as fuel. The third session, following lunch on the first day, will take the operator’s perspective, looking at experience so far with various gas-fuelled ship projects, including the Viking Grace.

What is happening to develop LNG in ports and harbours in Europe and North America, these being the regions currently covered by ECAs, will occupy the fourth sessions. The first day will be completed by a session covering the infrastructure, notably the way in which the large-scale LNG supply industry can satisfy the comparatively small-scale requirements of ship bunkering. This, too, will include valuable experience from the first months of operating and fuelling the Viking Grace.

Delegates will then get the opportunity to view the ship’s machinery, before the conference dinner in the onboard a la carte restaurant.

The second day will begin early, with viewing of the bunkering process, either from the bridge or via a live video link to the conference room. The bunkering will take place in Stockholm, with LNG being supplied from the AGA Seagas bunkering ship direct to the Viking Grace. That should set the scene for Session 5, a discussion of bunkering and transfer, including a review of the ship-to-ship process witnessed earlier.

Ship design to accommodate gas fuels will form the subject of the next session, addressing the technical challenges and the practicalities involved. This will be followed by a session dealing with the operational issues from a chartering point of view, considering the effects of a totally new way of fuelling ships on the strongly traditional chartering business.

Following the second day lunch will be a long session on development of propulsion technology for gas fuels. This will include a look at novel aspects of low-emission gas turbines for gas-fuelled passenger ships, and the adaptation of LNG technology to tugs, which, as they operate within or close to port areas, can have a significant effect on emissions and air quality. A growing number of conversion projects suggests that gas as fuel may not necessarily be confined to new vessels, and experience so far will be presented.

The final session will look at the latest tank technology, for both storage and transportation of LNG, including onboard tanks and small-scale terminals.

Following the formal closure of the conference itself, the day will conclude with technical tours of the engine room, the conference buffet dinner, and tours of the bridge. Arrival back in Stockholm is scheduled for early the following morning.

As always, the event is made possible by the various sponsoring and supporting companies and organisations. For 2013 the sponsors include Wärtsilä, Bureau Veritas, DNV, GE Marine, Bestobell LNG, Lloyd’s Register, Germanischer Lloyd, ABS, ACD and Trelleborg. The conference is supported by Danish Maritime, IBIA, BIMCO, InterManager, European Shortsea Network, SSA and Russian Maritime Register.


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