LNG fuel – “The chickens are here”

12 Sep 2012
A full house for the third Motorship Gas Fuelled Ships conference in Bergen, reflecting the current high level of interest in the subject

A full house for the third Motorship Gas Fuelled Ships conference in Bergen, reflecting the current high level of interest in the subject

The Motorship’s third annual Gas Fuelled Ships conference has got under way in Bergen, Norway, and has scored another resounding success, with many involved in the industry anxious to explore this powering option.

Well in excess of 140 people heard a variety of presentations on the first day, following an opening reception hosted by Rolls-Royce at its nearby Bergen engine plant. The reception included a tour of the factory, where gas engines are built alongside Diesel-fuelled units.

Conference chairman Martin Shaw, former BP Marine engineer and vice-president responsible for technical and environmental matters, and now managing director of consultancy MOAMS, introduced Kjell Sandaker, of shipowner Eidesvik Offshore, who gave the keynote address. Eidesvik is something of a pioneer in gas fuelled ships, and is now running ‘second generation’ LNG-powered OSVs, building on the success of previous vessels.

The first session dealt with regulatory matters, beginning with Turid Stemre of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, who is currently coordinating work on the IMO’s IGF Code. Erik Skramstad of DNV explained the work he is carrying out chairing the ISO working group developing bunkering guidelines for ships.

Perhaps the star of the day was chemist Ong Lay Hwa, who is working for Shell as a technologist. She gave a comprehensive and well-considered outline of predictions of future marine fuel demand, which of course includes LNG in a strong position alongside MGO and the HFO/scrubber combination.

David Bull from Ocean Shipping Consultants looked at the market conditions and applications for LNG in the general commercial marketplace, seeing how the higher capital and operating cost, and reduced cargo capacity of gas-fuelled ships can be offset by lower fuel costs and potential faster trading speed resulting in increased overall capacity.

Kjell Sandaker returned to the rostrum for the second session, to talk about his experiences with dual-fuel engines in the Eidesvik fleet, while the session’s other speaker, Roar Skjeret, spoke about the pure-gas, supplemented by separate smaller diesel engines, chosen by Island Offshore. The two parallel experiences provided an interesting comparison.

The third session looked at the environment, concentrating on legislation, availability and cost of gas fuels, led by Aksel Skjervheim of Gasnor, and followed by ABS’s Sean Bond, speaking on the North American perspective. Jesper Aagesen presented Lloyd’s Register’s study into worldwide LNG bunkering infrastructure. Finn Engelsen of shipbroker Joachim Grieg presented another study, on the commercial considerations of LNG fuel. The ‘quote of the day’ came from this session; several speakers spoke of the ‘chicken and egg’ situation in LNG bunkering, but Mr Skjervheim told us that in his view, “the chicken has arrived”.

Session four continued the ‘chicken and egg’ analogy, looking at the infrastructure. Eivind Dale of DNV proNavis looked at the factors driving the growth of LNG ship fuel and explained the DNV decision support model. Juergen Harperscheidt of TGE looked at the whole supply chain, starting with the current generation of small LNG tankers, concluding that LNG is bound to grow in the next few years. Then David Edwards of SeaTechnik looked at systems for small-scale LNG bunkering and supply.

The day concluded with a networking dinner sponsored by GE Marine, held at a restaurant on the hill above Bergen, with spectacular views down to the town and harbour. All those present – a full house - looked forward to the second day, and, especially, the final night and third day during which visits are being arranged to working LNG facilities.

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