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Hartmann reveals details of Ethane-fuelled LEG carriers

Hartmann reveals details of Ethane-fuelled LEG carriers
German shipowner Hartmann Reederei has revealed some design details of the world's first ethane-fuelled ocean going vessels, under construction at Sinopacific.

The trio of 36,000 cu m liquid ethylene gas (LEG) carriers, which will be capable of running on HFO, MDO, gas oil, LNG and ethane, were ordered in May by Norwegian owner Ocean Yield for $243m.

Upon delivery in 2016, The ships will be bareboat chartered to Hartmann for 15 years, at a fixed charter rate for 10 years, with an option for Hartmann to buy one third ownership of the vessels or a one third profit split when the charter rate floats for years 11 to 15.

As well as being the first ethane-powered ships, the design will introduce the new "star trilobe" tank, essentially three cylinders combined into one, which makes better use of the available cargo space. The vessels will be the largest LEG carriers in the world by capacity.

The ships will be able to make use of boil-off gases from their cargo, hold fuel for 10,000 nm in gas and a further 10,000 miles worth of heavy fuel, with the ability to switch between fuels immediately.

From a peak of over $150 a barrel in 2008, the cost of ethane has tumbled to under $50 a barrel as production has increased, especially in North America, with the rise of shale gas.

Ethane is extracted from natural gas and used as a feedstock in crackers to create ethylene, which is in turn used in creating plastics, among many other uses. In its assessment of future fuels published in March, Lloyd's Register referred to ethane as a "niche" fuel.

A long-term agreement is in place for the three ships with Saudi petrochemical company SABIC, with the vessels expected to transport ethane from the US to the UK as a feedstock for an expanding cracking plant.

As a fuel, ethane offers improvements over HFO with negligible sulphur emissions, 15-20% lower CO2 emissions, reduced particle emissions and improved bunkering times.

Hartmann Reederei has a fleet of 36 gas carriers and a total fleet of 74 vessels including bulkers and container ships.