Demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a conventional source of energy in the maritime industry will continue to grow because of its technological advantages in meeting the standards and requirements in limiting the emissions of sulphur, a greenhouse gas. According to marine fuel expert Sergey Ivanov, the global sulphur cap of 0.50 per cent which is set to be implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) next year could drive the global uptake on LNG as bunker fuel.
The new regulation will have an impact on up to 70,000 ships around the world once it comes into effect on January 1, 2020. Shipping companies are expected to turn to cleaner fuels to meet their targets and global environmental commitments.
“While different technologies can be used to comply with air emission limits, LNG technology is the only option that can meet existing and upcoming requirements for the main types of emissions such as sulphur, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide," said Ivanov, director of Marine Bunker Exchange AB. "LNG can compete price-wise with distillate fuels and, unlike other solutions, in many cases does not require the installation of additional process technology.”
He noted LNG’s availability and competitiveness have the potential to lead as a major alternative to other heavy fuels once the new environmental regulation on maritime emissions is in place.
Studies have shown that there is already a rising demand for LNG with more than 10% of the world’s fleet to be powered by natural gas. The Middle East is one of the major sources of LNG, accounting for 94mn tonnes or about 30% of the world’s supply coming from the region in 2018, with the UAE and Oman among the leading exporters.
Ivanov further explained that there has to be sustained awareness about the benefits of LNG as it remains less known across the world, including the associated risks with it and how they can be dealt with such as safe and reliable logistical concepts, considering that there is an increasing transition as well to natural gas in general consumption including heating and electricity generation.
“To serve as a fuel on regular shipping or transport connections, LNG must be delivered where it is needed and when it is needed in the volumes required," he added. "It is, therefore, very important to address these matters – to have the necessary competence, knowledge and skills. Decision makers in governments, authorities and companies need to understand the subject of their decision-making and the consequences of the decisions they make when it comes to the application of LNG.”
Ivanov will be speaking on the subject at the Seatrade ShipTech Middle East event on 23-24 September 2019.