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Methane emissions measurement standards needed as penalties loom

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A universal approach to measuring methane emissions on LNG-powered ships would support emissions reduction and cost savings for shipowners, according to a new report.

Methane Abatement in Maritime Innovation Initiative (MAMII), an industry group led by Lloyd’s Register’s technology adoption company Safetytech Accelerator, has released its first findings report after two years of operation.

Developing and applying universal and consistent methane emission measurement guidelines was chief among its recommendations to help increase adoption of methane abatement technologies in shipping and ultimately reducing methane emissions from the sector. 

Measurement guidelines would help the industry assess and compare abatement technologies, as well as give more accurate insights into the potential operational costs associated with methane emissions under future regulations and the savings abatement would bring under those same regulations. 

The reduction of methane emissions is a focus for slowing climate change as methane has a warming potential 28 times higher than CO2 over a 100-year period, and 84 times greater than CO2 on a 20-year timescale. Methane is the second largest contributor to GHG emissions after CO2.

Most methane emissions from shipping are due to methane slip in LNG-powered engines, where uncombusted methane is expelled in the ship’s exhaust, and from crankcase breathers which vent gas and vapours which have blown past the pistons. Technologies exist to reduce these and other forms of methane emissions from LNG-powered ships; LNG is almost entirely methane.

The report noted there is currently little motivation for shipowners and operators to address methane emissions, as greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations mostly deal with CO2 emissions. However, the EU Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) regulation introduced measurement of methane emissions from this year, and a 2026 review of the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator CII is expected to bring methane emissions within scope. Methane may also be added to the IMO's Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI).

“As methane emissions become regulated and monetised, credible detection and  quantification become a key objective for the industry,” said the report.

The group’s research found multiple technologies on the market to address shipping’s methane abatement needs, technologies which require testing in real world onboard scenarios for verification and any adaptation to marine use. Accepted measurement guidelines are an important first step, however.

“It is essential to develop and apply consistent universal measurement guidelines to mitigate the risk of discrepancies between methods and obtain a clear understanding of the solutions,” said the report.

Advice and action points for shipowners were included throughout the report, including operating engines at optimal loads where possible as methane slip can increase dramatically outside of the optimal range. Shipowners can also explore using shaft generators and batteries to supply electricity to ship systems instead of auxiliary engines, which sometimes emit more methane than main engines, the report added.

Panos Mitrou, Chairman of MAMII, stated: “From better engine combustion, to the abatement or catalysis of harmful gases and the blending of hydrogen with traditional fuels, the range and potential of these technologies have exceeded our expectations. It’s clear that with informed and early decision-making, we have the tools to abate methane.

“Yet, without a universally accepted certification method or regulatory framework providing business-critical incentives, the progress and adoption of these technologies will face significant delays.”

Further advice to shipowners and shipping companies includes choosing an LNG supplier/producer with abatement technologies and certification in their well-to-tank value chains, and identifying the right abatement technologies for specific types of engine. 

“Due to their considerable abatement potential, it is recommended to implement catalytic abatement technologies in low-pressure four-stroke vessels. Installing abatement technology on auxiliary engines for ships with both high-pressure two-stroke and low-pressure four-stroke engines will tackle the primary source of methane emissions,” the report said.

The full report Methane Abatement in Maritime Innovation Initiative is available online.

MAMII members include: Capital Gas, Carnival Corporation & Plc, Celsius Tankers, Chevron, CMA CGM, CoolCo, JPMorgan, Knutsen Group, Lloyd’s Register, Maran Gas Maritime, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, MISC, NYK Line, Seapeak, Seaspan Corporation, Shell, TMS Cardiff Gas, Total Energies, UK P&I Club, and United Overseas Management.