Conference chairman and BIMCO deputy secretary general Lars Robert Pedersen set the tone for discussions, noting that the shipping industry is beginning its journey towards decarbonisation and further suggesting that, although gas fuel may be a solution to forthcoming sulphur regulations, it is just a stepping stone on the way to a zero-emissions shipping fuel.

The point was further emphasised by Kari-Pekka Lakkonen, CEO of Finnish company Containerships. The ship owner is to take delivery of a series of gas-fuelled feeder vessels in 2018, Lakkonen noted that his customers had both demanded and welcomed the move towards decarbonisation. He supported the notion of LNG as a ‘bridge’ fuel, stating his belief that a zero-emissions solution would be developed during the lifetime of the new gas-fuelled ships.

Many solutions are already being trialled by Viking Line, the owners of the Viking Mariella vessel where this year’s conference is taking place. Joacim Westerlund, Technical Fleet Manager of the Finnish cruise and ferry operator, discussed many of these alternatives including the fuel cells being trialled onboard Mariella. Westerlund argued that the future fuel scenario will likely feature many of these solutions in a hybrid arrangement.

Presentations from experts in LNG pricing and availability confirmed that bunkering infrastructure is developing rapidly. Gerd-Michael Wuersig, LNG segment director, DNV GL, used the class society’s LNGi tool to highlight available infrastructure while Karen Sund of Sund Energy noted that gas can be made available anywhere within a week. Such infrastructure has enabled some breakthrough gas-fueled ship orders this year, notably last week’s order by CMA CGM for nine dual-fueled 22,000 TEU containerships.

Throughout the day, the crew onboard Mariella hosted visits to the bridge and the engine room, where delegates had a chance to inspect the ship’s unique humid airmodule, which helps reduce NOx emissions, reduce fuel consumption and increase power output on the four 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 40 engines. Visits to the ferry’s fuel cell – along with presentations on the project behind the installation – will be held later in the conference.