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Shell, MSC, and LR among backers of initiative to tackle methane slip

Photo: Maran Gas Maritime Maran Gas Posidonia, one of the vessels in the Maran Gas Mariitime fleet
A new initiative aimed at accelerating the implementation of methane emission monitoring and reduction technologies in the maritime sector is being launched by seven shipping and energy companies.

The Methane Abatement in Maritime (MAM) Innovation Initiative seeks to minimise the environmental impact of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in shipping, whilst aiding the transition to future fuel solutions.

“Led by Safetytech Accelerator, established by Lloyd’s Register, MAM is a technology acceleration programme whose activities will initially be supported by seven partners: Maran Gas Maritime, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Carnival Corporation & Plc, Seaspan, Shell, Lloyd’s Register and Knutsen Group. It will also draw on the expertise of academics, civil society, and other stakeholders, such as the [UK-based] National Physical Laboratory,” a group statement said today.

The initiative to tackle the phenomenon known as ‘methane slip’ will be chaired by Panagiotis Mitrou, Lloyd’s Register’s global gas director, and directed by Safetytech Accelerator’s head of partnerships, Steve Price. It threatens to undermine the advantages of powering ships’ engines with LNG, and the group hopes to develop proven abatement technology at scale within a year.

Forecasts indicate that over two-thirds of new ships will be powered by LNG by 2025, while, since 2010, the number of vessels fuelled by LNG has grown consistently by 20-40% a year, it is claimed. Compared to traditional marine fuels, LNG is understood to generate less carbon dioxide (CO2), emit less nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SOx), and particulate matter (PM), for the equivalent propulsion power.

“However, analysis has indicated that the environmental benefits of using LNG could be negated due to the propensity of LNG-vessels to leak unburned methane through the combustion process. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, estimated to have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 27-30 over 100 years, while CO2 has a GWP of 1, regardless of time period used,” the statement said.

“Measuring the scale of methane emissions, and understanding if they can be managed to negligible levels, will signal if liquefied bio methane (LBM) and liquefied synthetic methane (LSM) are viable pathway fuels to help achieve 2050 decarbonisation targets.”

Given the adverse impact of fossil fuels on shipping’s reputation, the development of hydrogen-based power generation and engine technologies is also gaining industry momentum.

“Shipping currently lacks the information and tools needed to accurately measure the amount of methane released by LNG-fuelled ships, and the extent of this impact. We believe that better information will allow the maritime industry to better understand the extent to which its LNG-fuelled ships are emitting methane,” Steve Price, head of partnerships, Safetytech Accelerator, said.

“Understanding the extent of this methane slip will allow companies, society and policymakers, to understand LNG’s real environmental impact, empowering markets to channel investments to new technologies that can reduce methane slip, or to other transition fuels.”

One of the participants in the scheme, Angelicoussis Shipping Group’s Maran Gas Maritime, said it was convinced of the advantages of LNG as a clean burning fuel and as an alternative marine fuel.

“However, in light of the strong warming potential of methane releases to the atmosphere, keeping tight control over methane emissions is critical to ensure that LNG’s overall greenhouse gas footprint delivers as much GHG reduction as possible versus conventional marine fuels,” Andreas Spertos, EVP-Technical Director, Maran Gas Maritime Inc. (MGM), said.

“This will not only secure near term GHG emission reductions, but will also allow to fully develop gas based carbon neutral fuels such as biogas and synthetic methane.”

Lloyd’s Register’s Mitrou said there was a pressing need to reduce the negative effects of global climate change. “It is critical that the industry does everything it can—as quickly as possible—to unlock the potential of LNG as a transition fuel,” he said. “By convening industry members who have already made great strides in abating emissions across their fleets, we aim to share and promote best practices across the supply chain for the benefit of the entire sector.”

Maria I. Angelicoussis, CEO and President of Angelicoussis Shipping Group is speaking at Saudi Maritime Congress, 28 – 29 September 2022, Dammam, KSA
Session: Outlook for oil and gas transportation

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