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Live From SMM 2016
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Prepare for a more complex fuel mix, gmec delegates told

The shipping industry should prepare for a multi-fuel future, a panel of experts agreed in the gmec conference at SMM yesterday.

Delegates at the global maritime environmental congress (gmec), organised jointly by Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH and Seatrade, were told that future fuel management is likely to become increasingly complex as a range of more sustainable fuels are adopted.

Erik Lewenhaupt, head of Sustainability at Stena Line, revealed that a pilot project to convert the Stena Germanica to burn methanol has already proved a success. Partners in the project included the ferry company, Wärtsilä, Methanex, and the two ports on the ferry’s schedule – Kiel and Gothenburg.

Meanwhile Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, DNV GL chief executive, maritime, conceded that the class society’s earlier predictions on the number of LNG-fuelled ships were unlikely to be met. This, he said, was a result of various factors, not least the oil price drop, the tonnage surplus and a lack of capital.

The class society’s prediction of 1,000 LNG LNG-powered vessels would prove too optimistic, he admitted, but he pointed out that there are already 79 LNG-fuelled ships in operation and a further 93 on order, excluding dual-fuelled LNG carriers. Almost half of them are flagged by DNV GL, he said.

Ørbeck-Nilssen remains optimistic about the prospects for LNG as a marine fuel, however. Global production is likely to increase by 30% over the next five years, with a likely favourable impact on price, whilst new infrastructure is steadily being introduced in key locations. Meanwhile the IGF Code will enter force in 2017 and the global sulphur cap of 0.5% will be introduced either in 2000 or 2015.

Iain White, global marketing manager at ExxonMobil Marine, warned of “many operational challenges” as the maritime fuel mix becomes more complex. Not least of these, he said, was the impact of Tier III NOx limits and the IMO’s EEDI which had both had a “significant impact” on engine design. An increase in cold corrosion had led to new challenges with respect to cylinder lubrication, he said.

Session moderator Gavin Allwright, secretary of the International Windship Association (IWSA), told delegates that wind power had the potential to help ship operators become compliant with tougher fuel regulations. Ship operators were now knocking on the IWSA’s door rather than vice versa and wind could potentially cut fuel consumption by 10-30% in a retrofit project and up to 50% on a newbuilding, he said.

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