‘Significant first order’ planned for gas bulkers

Trakakis (left) and Panagopulos reveal plans for a 'significant first order' for Project Forward Trakakis (left) and Panagopulos reveal plans for a 'significant first order' for Project Forward

Arista Shipping has confirmed it is negotiating with shipyards over an order for multiple gas-fuelled bulk carriers designed under the Project Forward initiative.

The Greek company headed by Alex Panagopulos, former CEO of ferry conglomerate Attica Group, anticipates that the first vessel will be delivered by 2019. The ship’s 2,500m3 gas fuel tank is dimensioned for a range of 14,000nm and the project team – including Arista, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Wärtsilä, Deltamarin and GTT – hopes that the vessel will bring gas fuel to the global tramp shipping market for the first time.

“We are taking LNG global, away from liner and specific services to tramp shipping - the bread and butter of global shipping,” Panagopulos told visitors at a customer day held by Wärtsilä in Vaasa this week. An order of multiple ships would help to achieve critical mass, he added. “The moment we place this order, the message [about the viability of LNG] will reverberate.”

Operating primarily on LNG will enable the vessel to meet both Tier III NOx emission limits and the demands of the global 0.5% cap on fuel sulphur, due to enter force in 2020. Panagopulos added that the ship will exceed these requirements, leading the way for even stricter emissions rules. "A tectonic shift has happened with emissions regulations and we are ready to lead the way with you," he said

Antonis Trakakis, technical manager, Arista Shipping, noted that the significant challenges of gas fuel storage and extra capex meant that machinery selection was key to the project’s success. The Project Forward bulker will not use the conventional set-up of two-stroke engine and multiple generators, but will instead deploy just two medium-speed Wärtsilä 31DF engines, coupled with a gearbox and two power take-outs on a single shaft driving a controllable pitch propeller.

“We have moved from prime mover to total mover, with just two engines providing all power for both propulsion and electrical load,” said Trakakis.

“There are dollar benefits as well as environmental ones, and the total package is unbeatable from an opex point of view,” added Panagopulos, citing fuel savings and lower maintenance for the modern engine package. “We will want to put a nice price tag on it to persuade those still in doubt.”

Arista has not yet decided whether to place one order for multiple ships with a single yard or multiple orders at different yards, Panagopulos told The Motorship.

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