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Shell joins Project Forward study into LNG fuel

Shell joins Project Forward study into LNG fuel
Oil major Shell has linked with the Project Forward study into the potential of LNG as a clean marine fuel to power globally-trading vessels such as bulkers, tankers and containerships.

Project Forward was launched last year by lead partner Arista Shipping of Greece, together with vessel designer Deltamarin, LNG containment specialist GTT, propulsion solution provider Wärtsilä and classification society ABS.

The project claims to have already developed a “technically feasible and commercially viable” design for LNG-fuelled oceangoing vessels, and now wants to work with Shell to broaden out the study to look at the practicalities of the LNG supply chain.

Shell is believed to be the world’s largest operator of LNG-fuelled ships and barges, with a fleet of around 70 such vessels at the time of its merger with UK-based BG Group in February this year. It is already taking steps to prepare for LNG bunkering worldwide, an example being its Gas Access to Europe (’Gate’) LNG terminal in the Netherlands, where it plans to supply LNG to marine and road transport customers in northwest Europe.

Project Forward’s vessel design likewise caters for very long sailing ranges, allowing LNG bunkering to be concentrated at just a few major ports worldwide. It believes that development of such facilities needs to be accelerated, however, in light of looming regulatory deadlines and in order to make “the launch of a first bulk carrier vessel with the innovative Project Forward design feasible within the next few years.”

Arista principal Alexander P. Panagopoulos has said that Project Forward aims to become “a milestone for the shipping industry” in establishing whether LNG represents a truly practical way for oceangoing vessels to comply with tightening environmental regulations such as IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index, NOx Tier III and Marpol Annex VI on SOx emissions.