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Indian project to switch fishing to LNG could benefit all shipping

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India is set to test using LNG to power fishing boats ahead of stricter international rules on marine fuel emissions next year, in a move that could help an under-used LNG terminal in the south of the country according to a report by Reuters.

The Reuter’s report suggests the Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (K-DISC), which is a think-tank and advisory body set up by the government of the southern state of Kerala, issued an expression of interest (EOI) this week for a pilot project to use LNG to fuel a fishing boat.

It is looking to retrofit an existing marine diesel engine system in a fishing boat currently in the city of Kochi to enable it to operate on both LNG and diesel. Fishing boats are typically fuelled by diesel, but the IMO’s 2020 rules on sulphur could push governments to explore the use of cleaner fuels.

LNG is not widely used in the fishing industry due to limited bunkering infrastructure and high costs.

But with the Kochi LNG terminal in southern India being under-utilised due to lack of infrastructure connecting the terminal to the main gas demand areas within the region, the government could be exploring ways to increase the terminal’s utilisation, Poorna Rajendran, a consultant at FGE said.

“Petronet LNG Ltd, the operator of Kochi LNG terminal, has in the past leased out storage capacity for reloading to increase the terminal’s utilisation,” he said. “Supporting the use of LNG as a marine fuel would also increase the terminal’s utilisation.”

The project will also involve the installation of an LNG fuel storage tank and other associated equipment and pipelines by modifying the boat hull, according to the EOI.

Although initially intended for fishing vessels, such a development could have implications for commercial vessels both domestic and international as it would extend the LNG bunkering infrastructure in the region.

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