Second Motorship GFS conference begins

26 Oct 2011
A full conference room for the second Motorship Gas Fualled Ships conference

A full conference room for the second Motorship Gas Fuelled Ships conference

The second Motorship Gas Fuelled Ships conference got underway on 26 October in Rotterdam, where a capacity audience gathered in the main meeting room at the top of the Inntel Rotterdam Centre hotel.

With a panoramic view of the Rotterdam waterfront overlooking the Erasmus bridge, the venue proved perfect for a maritime conference, particularly an event such as this which centres on one of the most practical methods of virtually eliminating harmful emissions from ships in ports adjoining large cities.

Conference chairman John Aitken, secretary general of SEAat, noted that the event was timely, coinciding with the signing of contracts for a gas-fuelled multi-purpose ship. He introduced the speakers, starting with the keynote address by Per A Brinchmann, technical vice-president of shipowner Wilh Wilhelmsen.

Brinchmann said that his company, as an environmentally-conscious operator of large ships, recognises its environmental responsibilities, and accepts the challenges these bring. He regards the gas-fuelled ship as a major advance in marine engineering technology, somewhat akin to the introduction of the steam ship, followed by the motor ship. Then, there were different driving forces behind development – now it is the environment that is behind techno logical change. But shipping companies are in business to make money, and if they can do that while still meeting their 'green’ responsibilities, that has to be the answer. He concluded by saying that Wilhelmsen will not be the first to operate large gas-fuelled vessels, but he expects it to be the “first of the last”.

Presentations looked not only at the benefits of gas as fuel for ships, but its disadvantages too. These included potential safety concerns, though it was recognised that tank technology has been around for years without explosions occurring, and the comparative lack of infrastructure - though that can be solved. The question of methane slip came up in several presentations and in the question and answer sessions - although LNG undoubtedly cuts suplhur and PM emissions to near-zero, and NOx to well below IMO Tier III limits, methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. A number of speakers recognised this, but suggested that taking the overall picture, considering all greenhouse gases, the use of LNG woulld still cut GHG emissions by some 20%.

The conference continues on 27 October.

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