The IMO (International Maritime Organization) has chosen DNV to gather knowledge about the potential of LNG powered international shipping in the North American Emission Control Area (ECA) and identify the necessary conditions for the successful implementation of LNG as a fuel source in the region.
The North American ECA, under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), came into effect from 1 August 2012, bringing in stricter controls on emissions of sulphur oxide (SOx), NOx and particulate matter for ships trading off the coasts of Canada, the United States and the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
Within ECAs, the sulfur content of fuel oil (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) must be no more than 1.00% m/m; falling to 0.10% m/m on and after 1 January 2015.
This compares to 3.50% m/m outside an ECA, falling to 0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020. This date could be deferred to 1 January 2025, depending on the outcome of a review, to be completed by 2018, as to the availability of compliant fuel oil.
In practice, says the IMO, this means that, within an ECA, ships must burn fuel oil of a lower sulfur content. Alternatively, the ship may use any “fitting, material, appliance or apparatus or other procedures, alternative fuel oils, or compliance methods”, which are at least as effective in terms of emissions reductions, as approved by the Party to MARPOL Annex VI.
With regard to NOx emissions, marine diesel engines installed on a ship constructed on or after 1 January 2011 must comply with the “Tier II” standard set out in regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI. Marine diesel engines installed on a ship constructed on or after 1 January 2016 will be required to comply with the more stringent Tier III NOx standard, when operated in a designated NOx ECA.
Natural gas is a widely available, cleaner burning fuel across North America, but availability of LNG is limited, as the demand and supply side are waiting for each other, partly held up by logistical problems. The big investment decisions that have to be made related to LNG as a fuel are not made easier by the uncertainty and guesswork currently surrounding the feasibility of LNG as a fuel.
In developing LNG as an alternative fuel for short sea shipping, we foresee significant market opportunities for manufacturers, ship designers, and yards with focus on LNG technology. DNV’s involvement in research and innovation in LNG supply, storage, engines and emission issues has demonstrated that ship safety, market mechanisms, and operational regularity can be maintained when operating ships on LNG. But there are many variables and risks that have to be assessed and managed first, and we hope this study will contribute to this.—Tony Teo, DNV’s Technology and Business Director in the US
To provide actionable intelligence and insight, a number of topics have to be addressed as part of the feasibility study, DNV said:
- Key trends for international shipping services in the North American ECA;
- Ship types and routes;
- Current and planned LNG infrastructure;
- Mapping the regulatory regime;
- Environmental benefits;
- Assessment of technology readiness; and
- Key enablers.
The report will be delivered to the IMO in October, and be used as decision making support to remove some of the obstacles identified in the report.
Out of 38 LNG-fueled ships currently in operation, DNV is classing 36, including the first ship. DNV’s most recent work on LNG in the US includes assisting the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSF) with Safety, Security Assessment and Operational Planning for LNG-fueled Ferries. DNV has already carried out numerous LNG feasibility studies.