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LNG still the most popular alternative fuel by far

Photo: Pilbara Ports Authority port-hedland-welcomes-first-lng-fuelled-vessel.jpg
LNG was the fuel of choice amongst owners ordering ships for operation on alternative fuels in 2022.

According to analysis by DNV, more than 80% of such vessels – 222 ships – were contracted last year compared with 35 ships that will operate on methanol, the second most popular alternative fuel. The figures do not include contracts for 50 LPG tankers capable of dual-fuel LPG operation.    

Thirty of the methanol-fuelled vessels contracted last year are large containerships. The orders bring the methanol-fuelled total to 82 ships.

About three quarters of the LNG-fuelled vessels ordered last year were container ships and pure car and truck carriers. Product carriers came next, with 9% of orders. The tally of LNG-fuelled ships either in operation or on order now totals 876 ships, according to DNV’s figures, with 104 vessels powered by LNG commissioned during 2022.  

DNV notes that 18 ships capable of operating on hydrogen were ordered in 2022. They include large cruise vessels with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that will contribute to auxiliary power requirements and small crew transfer vessels for the offshore wind sector designed to operate entirely on hydrogen power.

Listen to a recent episode of the Seatrade Maritime Podcast on methanol as a marine fuel

Martin Wold, Principal Consultant in the classification society’s Advisory business, said: “A diverse portfolio of LNG-fuelled ships was delivered in 2022, with large crude oil tankers in the lead and container ships in second place. Far from all are currently operating fully on LNG fuel but there are geographical pockets where LNG is still competitively priced and being bunkered regularly.

“The underlying growth for LNG fuel is nevertheless very strong,” Wold continued, “and the market will likely return with a boom at some point, with bunkered volumes expected to triple within a very short time span. Looking ahead, we expect 2023 to turn out similarly to 2022 in terms of newbuild orders for alternative fuels. The orders will likely materialise across somewhat different ship types and sizes compared to last year, moving with the newbuild market in general.”