One of the biggest operators of LPG carriers, BW, has previously stated that “BW LPG is looking to reduce carbon footprint , which LPG as a fuel offers”. BW is also saying that ship-to-ship transfers with LPG carriers is something that everybody who carries LPG, does it all the time. So any small vessel could do this, and act as a bunker vessel.
Furthermore, ABS has been working for many years in studies looking at the LPG as a fuel and they believe that it is a fuel that can significantly lower emissions. ABS is also working with Kawasaki on the new builds. As for Kawasaki, it has said that LNG attracts attention as an environmentally friendly option, but LPG has more advantages, including potentially reduced initial investment and simpler handling on board. In addition, DNV GL believes that LPG will prove increasingly attractive to the market in the future. Lastly, according to MAN, which is the first one to build the dual-fuel LPG engine, LPG will grow due to its green character, widespread availability, price competitivity and ease of bunkering.
LPG is becoming now the preferred fuel for the LPG carriers, while there are 26 carriers being prepared at the moment with LPG engines. We see the first one coming in 2020, and then the next in 2021. MAN also believes that by 2028, all new builds, LPG-carriers, will be fitted with LPG fueled engines.
Current LPG situation
The first orders came in 2018 for these vessels, and then came the development of new class rules, from DNV GL, and Class NK. Moreover, we see something quite interesting from Daihatsu, where they develop LPG combustion solutions using a gas reformer.
Everything is going very positively and the waves are really of growth, supporting the upcoming of LPG. This is helped by the fact that relevant Codes are in place, such as the IGF Code, effective from January 2017.
LPG as a marine bunker fuel
Why is LPG good as a marine fuel? Of course it is due to its environmental performance, while in comparison to LNG, LPG does not take into account methane slip, as it is not a greenhouse gas.
The other reason for adopting it, is supply. Now we know that there is abundance of LPG, especially coming from the US, and this will keep being the case. Furthermore, the engines and relevant technology exist, while there is more development on this area.
Bunkering is the big advantage for LPG as a fuel. LPG exists everywhere, wherever you find import and export terminals, they can be used for LPG bunkering. Small LPG vessels can be used as LPG bunkers. Almost everything is in place. We do not have to build new ships, or bunkers, we do not have to invest on expensive solutions.
The world is full of locations with import/export terminals and anybody can really go anywhere, and be supplied with LPG.
LPG Bunkering – Available everywhere
- Already in place worldwide, more than 1,000 LPG existing storage facilities for shore to ship bunkering, more than 700 small LPG carriers for ship to ship, significant advantage over other alternative fuels
- Excellent bunkering standards to built further on, set by bulk LPG shipping
- Experienced crew of LPG fuel handling – cost efficient systems for safe transfer
- Bunkering flexibility (in port or ship to ship)
- Ship to ship is the most economic and convenient bunkering option
- Flexible bunkering strategy could be applied as demand grows
In particular, BW LPG has mentioned the following benefits about LPG as a fuel:
- Increased efficiency by approximately 11% vs compliant fuels
- Lower investment costs (CAPEX) vs LNG or scrubbers
- Potential fuel cost savings
- Lower price sensitivity, Higher Cost Efficiency
- Savings of both time and fees for fuel bunkering
- Easy retrofit solutions
- More reliable, fully flexible and cleaner alternative
BW is retrofitting now 12 of its vessels with LPG. We believe that from the moment all these ships will be on the water, there will be more results from their operation. Actually, the fact that they have exercised options and they ordered more retrofits is because they have done tests, and found more encouraging results than they had initially thought.
LPG and Regulations
- LPG carriers follow the IGC Code
- IGF code, effective January 2017 allows the use of LPG as fuel
- The development of international regulations for low flashpoint fuels continues in IMO by a phase 2 development of the IGF Code.
- IMO Interim Guidelines on Safety for Gas Fuelled Engine Installations.
Finally, there is a lot of discussion about renewables and biofuels. If you consider that what is true for LPG, is even truer for biofuels, then you can see where LPG can take the market. In fact, we say that by using bio-propane and bio-LPG, we save about 80% of CO2 emissions.
Above text is an edited version of Mr. Nikos Xydas’ presentation during the 2020 GREEN4SEA Athens Forum.
You may view his presentation herebelow
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
Nikos Xydas, Technical Director, World LPG Association (WLPGA)
Nikos Xydas is the Technical Director of WLPGA, the World LPG Association in Paris and of AEGPL, the European LPG Association in Brussels. Holding an M.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Scotland, he started his professional career with ABB in Switzerland, before moving to Shell in Greece and then abroad, to cover international positions in Technical, Operations, HSSE and Strategy, in the sectors of LPG, Retail and Lubricants. Mr Xydas holds a double Greek / French nationality and he lives in Paris.