Natural Gas Will Soon Power Maritime Shipping Fleets

Credit: Creative Commons / Albert E

Credit: Captain Albert E / CC BY 2.0

Liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) may soon help reduce the emission of toxic gasses by maritime shipping fleets. The technology reached the marketplace in the United States and Puerto Rico this year, with the promise of future expansion. The United Arab Shipping Company reportedly recently ordered 17 vessels which can be retrofitted to accommodate this new fuel source. And South Korea plans to build LNG refueling facilities to assist its major exporters.

The Environmental Benefits of LNG

What, in any, environmental benefit does LNG offer? The vast majority of the world’s cargo vessels today rely on dirty heavy fuel oils for power. Maritime ships emit 8% of global sulfur dioxide gas as a result. This chemical pollution contributes to acid rain, ultimately damaging the Earth. LNG furnishes a much cleaner, green power base.

Motivating Environmental Responsibility

The shipping industry in some place received strong motivation to adopt cleaner fuel sources with the adoption of Marpol Annex VI standards in 2005. The International Convention receives legal enforcement by some nations, including the USA. Shippers from the United States must soon comply with the new emissions standards, or face penalties.

Shipping companies in the United States that seek to comply with the new internationally imposed environmental regulations face four choices:

  • Utilize more expensive, higher grade fuel;
  • Use expensive higher grade diesel;
  • Invent an effective catalytic converter for maritime engines;
  • Implement LNG fuels.

Converting to Cleaner Fuel

Anthony Chiarello, the President of TOTE, believes that LNG as a fuel source offers the best solution. TOTE recently deployed the Marlin-class Isla Bella, one of the world’s first cargo ships powered by LNG. An Orca class will soon supply the Alaskan shipping industry. One of TOTE’s competitors, Crowley, will launch an LNG ship in 2017.

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