Conspicuous by their absence
Yesterday’s announcement by several industry organisations of the formation of a cross-industry coalition to be called SEA\LNG was an interesting development for a number of reasons. The aims of the new coalition have been listed as supporting the development of LNG bunkering at major ports, educating stakeholders of the risks and opportunities of LNG bunkers, and the development of consistent regulations for cleaner shipping fuels around the world. The coalition partners are Carnival Corporation, DNV GL, ENGIE, ENN Group, General Electric, GTT, Lloyd's Register, Mitsubishi, NYK Line, Port of Rotterdam, Qatargas, Shell, TOTE and Wärtsilä. These are recognisable as a broad spectrum of equipment suppliers, class, energy corporations and ship and port operators. Representatives of the coalition partners have all given their views of the ambitions of the group including Leo Karistios, gas technology lead at LR who said “LNG fuelled shipping has mainly been for the visionaries and, until now, concentrated in specialist ship sectors – short sea shipping and ferries, mainly sailing between two fixed ports. We want to help drive the expansion of LNG as a marine fuel of choice, with not just more short sea and local ships burning gas, but also the deep sea trades." Karistios’ listing of current ship types using LNG is accurate and the inclusion of NYK and TOTE extend the ship types to container vessels (although TOTE already has gas-fuelled boxships) and perhaps car carriers but it is noticeable that bulk carriers, tankers and MPP/heavy lift operators are conspicuous by their absence. These are ship types that are less likely to benefit from using LNG because of the loss of cargo space needed to accommodate the extra equipment associated with gas fuel storage. They are also the vast majority of ship types operating in the deep sea trades but with a trading pattern that does not lend itself to taking smaller but more regular supplies of fuel on fixed route. Bringing in the liner traffic will expand the role of LNG but it does not move it to being the main fuel type that proponents of it would prefer it to be.