Project to assess LNG bunkering in Australia

Four-month study to examine the requirements, benefits and risks of LNG bunkering in Australia.

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Updated on 16 Oct 2012 16:30 GMT

Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and nine key members of the Australian maritime, port and energy sectors have established a four-month study organized as a Joint Industry Project (JIP). The aim of the JIP is to facilitate the adoption of LNG-fuelled vessels in Australian waters.

The study aims to cover the infrastructure and regulatory requirements as well as the potential benefits and risks faced by energy majors, ports and ship owners considering LNG-powered vessels. The study concentrates on LNG-fuelled OSVs and tugs operating in Australian waters, but the key recommendations developed are expected to be valid for most ship types. Geographically, the focus will be on the ports of Dampier, Darwin and Melbourne as points of inclusion.

The JIP is managed by DNV and is co-sponsored by DNV along with nine industry parties and authorities, which have been listed below.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
BOC Limited (Linde Group)
Farstad Shipping Pty. Ltd.
Ports Australia
Rolls-Royce Marine AS
SVITZER Australia
Swire Pacific Offshore Operations (Pte) Ltd.
Teekay Shipping (Australia) Pty. Ltd. and
Woodside Energy Ltd.

Key obstacles in promoting LNG-fuelled ships will be identified along with an initial consideration of adequate infrastructure and existing regulations, which in Australia is complicated by the diverse state-based legislative schemes.

DNV says that safety will be given 'utmost importance' during the project and that ports will face the challenge of offering safe storage and ship-specific bunkering of LNG. These challenges will also be incorporated in the study.

Project goals include an assessment of the regulatory framework and infrastructure necessary for LNG bunkering at the federal level and for selected States. By the end of 2012, the JIP aims to deliver a gap analysis and a map of legal and infrastructural challenges and opportunities. The JIP will also produce internal and external reports covering key areas for improvements as well as recommendations on the direction and steps to be taken in the LNG fuel domain for the benefit of the Australian maritime industry.

The JIP aims to give the required exposure to LNG as a fuel and to provide objective information to be used in subsequent detailed studies on LNG bunkering.

Dr. Sanjay Kuttan, Managing Director of DNV’s Clean Technology Centre (CTC) paints the vision behind the initiative, “The convergence of availability of gas, innovative technologies, progressive regulatory measures and visionary leadership will make LNG a major cleaner energy source for power generation, land and sea transportation, petrochemical feedstock and domestic gas a reality in the near future. The team at DNV CTC is honoured to be part of this momentum to fulfil DNV’s purpose in safeguarding life, property and the environment.”

Why LNG?

In financial terms, there is an additional capital expenditure required by LNG-fuelled vessels. This is caused by the requirement of additional technology such an advanced fuel tank, a gas conversion and distribution system and double-walled piping. This additional capital expenditure is projected to be justified over the typical lifespan of such a vessel through returns in the form of lower fuel consumption, less maintenance and cheaper fuel as the price of LNG is expected to escalate slower than the price of oil.

In environmental terms, the benefits of fuelling ships with LNG may include giving such vessels a future competitive advantage due to lower emissions without additional exhaust gas abatement technologies or expensive low sulphur distillates.

"LNG-fuelled propulsion has been shown to meet the strictest emissions control regulations - such as the global 0.5% sulphur cap, to be implemented between 2020 and 2024 – in addition to being technically feasible. With an increasing number of ships being delivered with LNG propulsion also outside the IMO Emission Control Areas (ECA), the necessity of the necessary infrastructure is growing on a global level," DNV said.