Fuelling the LNG revolution
Carly Fields spoke with SEA\LNG chief operating officer Stephen Cadden and Port of Rotterdam business manager LNG, bunkering and cruise, Maud Eijgendaal about the opportunities for ports looking to join the liquefied natural gas bunkering revolution
Carly: Let’s start with the basics: why is LNG bunkering so important for ports today?
Stephen Cadden: “This is imperative for ports. If they’re not looking at LNG they really should seriously take a look at it and learn more about it because it is coming and will be one of the fuel options for shipping. And as some of the bunkering hubs around the world begin to implement LNG, it will become more and more viable for deep-sea shipping. Also, from a port perspective, as their customers begin to use LNG, it will be critical that they’re able to provide LNG bunkering services in their ports for those clients.”
Maud Eijgendaal: “Also, as it’s clear now that 2020 is the D-day for the IMO sulphur cap, ports need to think about their role - especially the big bunker ports - after 2020.”
Stephen: “The message is whether you’re large or small, what’s important is that if your customers need the fuel and intend to use it, you need to make a choice: do you want to invest in LNG or not?”
Carly: But what about other fuels, surely they should feature in the bunker supply mix?
Maud: “That’s right and as such we do not promote LNG over other fuels because we believe in a strong bunker fuel mix. But we see a very clean solution in LNG. It’s scalable and the only viable clean option that is available. The infrastructure is in development and the legislation is already there. So, if you compare that to other fuels, I don’t think that they can compete at the moment from an environmental and financial perspective, especially in the marine segment."
Carly: What about regulation, is that moving quickly enough to support the growth of LNG as a marine fuel?
Maud: “One of the important things that we have been working on for the last couple of years is, of course, the regulation, and we are a part of several working groups and other initiatives where we strive for harmonisation of regulations not only in our region, or in Europe, but on a global level. We have to create a global network and a global understanding of LNG bunkering. Several ports have adopted our standards and regulations, but there is still further to go.”
Stephen: “Regulations are important. Shipping is a global industry and has a global view on regulations, so the IMO is critical to the long-term success of shipping as well as to the long-term success of LNG as a marine fuel. In terms of local regulation, local authorities have a tremendous opportunity to learn from existing initiatives.”
Maud: “Together with Singapore and other ports, we’re in a focus group that is striving for harmonisation of LNG regulations and that is working well.”
Carly: And how do you counter safety concerns and a general fear of the unknown at ports that are not already handling LNG?
Stephen: “From a SEA\LNG perspective, our focus in this respect is to bring together case studies from ports that have already done it, as a means of educating others who are interested in learning more. LNG bunkering can definitely be done in ports that haven’t handled LNG before. It is proven to be safe, it can be very competitive and it’s very clean from. So, if you’re in a port with a big challenge around emissions, LNG can certainly help to reduce that impact on your local population.”
Carly: Have you noticed an increasing interest in installing LNG bunker infrastructure at ports?
Stephen: “Yes, more and more ports are embracing LNG bunkering and at a minimum they’re planning. From my observations, more and more ports are thinking about LNG, and more and more will be ready to bunker LNG over the next couple of years. So, it’s growing.”
Maud: “We certainly agree that we see a growing interest from other ports, not only the north west European ports but also and especially at the moment Asian ports. We really feel that within two years, we will have an LNG trade lane between Singapore and Rotterdam, which is a really big step forward. There is also growing interest from ports for uniform regulations and interest in the development of LNG bunkering, which is confirmation for us that LNG is really being accepted."
Carly: So, finally, what guidance can you give to ports that are considering LNG bunkering services?
Stephen: “We can help them get a better understanding of what’s been done by others and how to best move forward. The message from us is that those ports that are underprepared, or haven’t yet planned or investigated LNG bunkering, should start as it’s important for them to do so from a strategic point of view.”
Maud: “This is really the moment for ports to start seriously considering LNG. For us as a port authority, our belief in LNG is the reason that we joined SEA\LNG and we believe that together as a coalition, we can help promote the use of LNG and get an even better understanding of the advantages for ports.”
BRINGING INDUSTRY TOGETHER
SEA\LNG is a multi-sector industry coalition, created to accelerate the widespread adoption of LNG as a marine fuel. The Port of Rotterdam is joined by NYK Line, Qatargas, Shell, TOTE and Wärtsilä, among others, in the initiative.
Some of the advantages of LNG as a fuel include lower emission of particulates, sulphur and nitrogen oxides and CO2; it meets the more stringent emission standards; LNG-powered engines require less maintenance; LNG-powered engines are much quieter; it’s cheaper than petroleum-based fuels; and it has a higher energy value than other fossil fuels.
Rotterdam describes itself as the “leader in Europe for the introduction of LNG as a fuel” and strongly believes in the potential of LNG as a fuel. Back in 2014, it changed its port management by-laws so that it could become the first port where ship-to-ship LNG bunkering of seagoing vessels was officially allowed.
Since then, the port has introduced several incentives to encourage greater uptake of LNG. LNG-powered inland vessels with a valid Green Award Certificate qualify for a discount of 15% to 30%.
There are now five inland vessels in Rotterdam using LNG as a fuel: Deen Shipping’s Argonon; Interstream Barging’s GreenStream and GreenRhine; Danser’s Eiger-Nordwand; and Chemgas’ Sirocco. Shortsea service provider Containerships has also ordered two LNG-powered shortsea container vessels. An LNG-powered dredging vessel, Ecodelta will join the ranks in 2018.
While Rotterdam is currently the only port in SEA\LNG, the coalition is in discussions with several ports and believes that additional ports will join the initiative in the coming months. It is also in discussions with regional port associations.
“Rotterdam has a tremendous perspective on what it takes to implement LNG bunkering from a port perspective,” says SEA\LNG’s Stephen Cadden. “They have a very good understanding of their shipping clients and of course, as one of the world’s largest bunkering ports in traditional fields, some understanding of what ship owners and shipping lines expect in terms of the process. So, they bring a lot of good knowledge to the table.”
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