GREEN4SEA: How does LNG as a marine fuel meet owners’ expectations? What are the key differentiations that may enhance the attractiveness of LNG against other fuel options?
Antonis Trakakis: The main drive for considering LNG as fuel is the unique potential it has to achieve compliance with all environmental regulations without any additional measures which are very costly and quite complicated. A main issue is the cost of fuels in the future. Although there are clear signs of prices and availability of LNG and liquid fuels, today we can argue only on speculative basis. A more robust advantage is that in case IMO decides (MEPC 71) to bring forward the EEDI standards of 2025, then LNG can meet much more effectively more stringent CO2 emission requirements without compromise in speed.
G4S: How would you describe the demand for LNG at the moment? Do you anticipate any change with the implementation of the Global Sulphur Cap in 2020?
A.T.: Today LNG is not a fuel for deep sea shipping therefore its demand is limited. The global Sulphur cap (for all vessels) and NOx Tier III / EEDI for new builds, will definitely press owners/industry for finding solutions, and then the economics will play the primary role for the final decision. LNG itself comes at very low cost, and it is the delivery cost that makes it comparable to fuel. Should the availability of LNG been widespread as for liquid fuel, then LNG would be the obvious selection. It is therefore a matter of time only to see how the infrastructure of LNG will develop in the near future.
G4S: Where does the industry stand with respect to LNG technological advancements from your perspective and what are the key challenges and wish list for the way forward?
A.T.: The technology that is needed to support the use of LNG as fuel is available. Despite previous studies, the cost involved for LNG as fuel may be equal to the cost of after treatment techniques with similar performance. The idea for a global development of infrastructure is also very mature in the mind of majors. Since there is no one-fits-all solution, the main challenge is then to approach LNG with a fresh mind and identify the applications where it can really make a big difference. Safety is also a major concern and due attention needs to be given to have not only certified, but also duly qualified crew.
G4S: How shipping may encourage innovative solutions for further acceptance of LNG as a marine fuel? What actions would you recommend?
A.T.: Similar to other sectors, shipping should seek how the technology available can be used as a tool towards enhanced viability, a term that includes reduction of both cost and emissions. Even more (especially in Greece) shipping should finance research in order to create and apply innovation. As Newton stated, for any change we need a force. And it is a fact, that despite some downsides, the new regulations serve as a drive force for us to think different and part of this is the idea of LNG as fuel. But extreme care is needed in that innovation ultimately yields measurable benefits, and not being a mere shooting star.
G4S: What could be the right environmental and financial incentives to facilitate LNG bunkering?
A.T.: The environmental rules open wide the door towards the adoption of LNG. But the truly needed incentive that will promote the global infrastructure of bunkering, is realistic projects. Today there is very intense activity from majors and developments will be soon available. Shipping is more inert but the only way that the famous chicken-and-egg issue can be solved is when supply and demand meet at the middle of the bridge.
G4S: What is your key message to the industry stakeholders with respect to the use of LNG as a marine fuel?
A.T.: Although shipping is an extremely efficient means of transportation in terms of CO2 emissions, there are big margins we can still cover and improve ourselves when it comes to NOx and SOx (less with CO2). This improvement will come at an extra cost to both owners and the society. Which is the right choice depends on the time frame of the investment. But in terms of life cycle cost / total cost of ownership, LNG seems to be the one with the most promising future and highest chances for payback and profit, (provided of course that safety maintains our top priority).
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of GREEN4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
Antonis Trakakis, Technical Manager, Arista Shipping
Antonis Trakakis has graduated from Mechanical Engineering dept of NTUA and carried out graduate studies at von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in the field of Turbomachinery. Currently he holds the position of Technical Manager at Arista Shipping where he joined in 2010. As Technical and Environmental Manager of Superfast Ferries he has successfully addressed all issues relevant to operation of ships in sensitive areas like the Baltic sea. Antonis has worked with all kinds of internal combustion engines, ranging from gas turbines, to all sizes of four stroke, and two stroke engines, and one of his special concerns has been the formation and control of emissions, and engine efficiency.