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US Maritime Administration to fund projects on reducing emissions from marine vessels, study on LNG bunkering

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) Office of the Environment has issued two funding opportunities; the first (DTMA-91-R-2013-0020) will award up to an estimated $900,000 for up to 2 projects that demonstrate criteria pollutant emissions of carbon emissions reductions from marine vessels through repowering, re-engining, or using alternative fuel/energy.

The second (DTMA-91-R-2013-0009) will award up to $500,000 for a comprehensive study on the issues associated with the bunkering (supplying a ship with fuel) of LNG for marine vessels. One of the largest obstacles to widespread take-up of LNG as ship fuel—and hence its viability as an option to meet ECA (Emission Control Areas) requirements—is the lack of a bunkering infrastructure, according to Lloyd’s Register. (Earlier post.)

Vessel emission reduction pilot/demonstration project. MARAD has been partnering with other government agencies, industry, and academia on efforts to reduce vessel and port air emissions and greenhouse gases as well as support the use of alternative fuels and energy sources.

Several MARAD efforts are underway to address emissions reductions, specifically through development of planning and modeling tools and in-situ testing of alternative fuels, repowers, and emissions reduction technology.

With this RFP, MARAD is seeking to provide cost-share funding through cooperative agreements for US-flagged vessels that operate on inland, coastal waterways, or the Great Lakes. Eligible applicants include vessel owners, operators, or sponsors. Awardees must demonstrate a reduction of air emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), particulate matter (PM), or carbon through an approved emissions testing scheme.

Emissions data must be made available to MARAD and can be used publicly. Shoreside equipment upgrades or shore power projects are not eligible for funding.

MARAD intends to use the results/data of the demonstration projects to support further work related to air emissions reduction research and to assess the public benefit of incentives.

Projects that will be funded under the RFP include engine conversion/retrofits; the use of alternative fuels; or the use of alternative technologies. MARAD will not fund more than 50% of the total cost of the project. Of particular interest to MARAD is the use of natural gas (LNG or CNG) as a marine propulsion fuel.

Bunkering study. MARAD has been partnering with other government agencies, industry, and academia to determine the feasibility and likelihood of using natural gas as a propulsion fuel in the maritime sector. MARAD recently completed a study—reported in the February 2013 “Status of the US-Flag Great Lakes Water Transportation Industry”—that focused on the feasibility of using natural gas on the Great Lakes as well as converting existing steamships.

(In December 2011, MARAD entered a 5-year cooperate agrement with the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI), a consortium of the University of Wisconsin–Superior and the University of Minnesota Duluth, to address environmental issues that face shipping and marine transportation, including natural gas fuel applications. One study under this agreement is to explore the LNG supply chain needed to support the fuel demand for the fleet with the potential for this fuel to be used by other modes of transportation.)

Results of that study as well as discussions with several agencies identified specific issues related to using natural gas as a marine fuel that still need to be resolved, most notably infrastructure needs and bunkering. MARAD intends to fund a study that addresses these issues in more detail.

The funded study will focus on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is designed to address specific issues related to bunkering and infrastructure at ports or marine accessible terminals.

The study must address infrastructure; bunkering and safety; and training requirements.

  • Infrastructure. Identify and provide an analysis of the most realistic options for delivering natural gas to a vessel, assuming the quantities needed for fueling oceangoing vessels, lakers, and inland tugs. The analysis should compare advantages and disadvantages of using various modal supply methods and potential barriers.

    Identify the barriers associated with co-locating bunkering infrastructure for multiple modal uses.

    Identify gaps in the existing regulatory framework for providing oversight of various phases of the LNG supply chain including production, storage, transportation, and fueling.

    Identify the agencies that regulate shoreside bunkering facilities and what authorities they have. Are there any conflicting jurisdictional issues?

  • Bunkering and Safety. Identify safety/security requirements that should be in place for vessel bunkering operations from water and/or land given that natural gas is already being used as a fuel for trucks/buses and other transportation applications. Is a safety or security zone required? If so, what is the appropriate size of such a zone? This task must include a safety analysis and risk assessment.

    Identify risks/hazards associated with conducting other operations during bunkering. Note any risk mitigation, as necessary.

    Identify differences in risk between bunkering from shoreside structures versus bunkering from vessels.

    Identify safety and security regulations that are required for shoreside infrastructure in support of bunkering operations. Identify similar regulations for in-water bunkering.

    Identify the areas of current bunkering regulations that need to be standardized to promote a national framework.

    Identify how bunkering operation requirements interact with other environmental regulations.

  • Training Requirements. Identify the level of crew training that will be required in bunkering operations for safety and to reduce methane slip and LNG spillage.

    Identify the safety equipment and training needs for local first responders for bunkering whether shoreside or aboard a vessel.

The US Maritime Administration is the agency within the US Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety.

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