Study on LNG Bunkering in Ports

More stringent air emission requirements for seagoing vessels are introducing a new challenge for maritime administrations and services. These challenges are all the more daunting in the IMO ECAs. One of the possible solutions to compliance is the use of LNG as propulsion fuel for shipping, next to the use of low sulfur fuels and the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers. According to data from engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, relative emissions for these various compliance options clearly demonstrate LNG propulsion as the overall environmental winner.

The lack of adequate bunker facilities for LNG appears to be one of the obstacles for an effective breakthrough of this alternative fuel. The Flemish Government and the port authorities of Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Fluxys published a feasibility study on liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering with assistance from Norway’s ship classification society Det Norske Veritas (DNV). The study evaluates the possibilities and options for the organisation and facilitation of bunkering of LNG in Flemish ports.

The aim of the study was to identify the necessary regulations concerning bunkering of LNG and ultimately to create possibilities for efficient and safe LNG bunkering in ports in the near future. The study concludes in a series of recommendations as summarized here below, for the completion/adaptation of the regulatory framework:

  • A process should be initiated in order to ensure early involvement and cooperation between local and regional authorities, port authorities, fire brigades and other stakeholders to get an idea on the suitability of locations for onshore LNG bunkering facilities and to guarantee a smooth permitting process.
  • A change of the EU regulations, in order to allow shipping fuels with flashpoints lower than 55°C to be used for inland vessels.
  • A change of the EU regulations, in order to make possible the transport of LNG as cargo on inland waterways.
  • The use of LNG as shipping fuel will create new hazards compared to conventional fuels therefore a training needs analysis should be performed for people who board LNG fuelled vessels in their line of duty, e.g. ship pilots, surveyors, government inspectors, customs officials, firemen, rescue services.
  • It is recommended to consider the LNG on board LNG bunker vessels navigating in the port generally in a similar way as other hazardous cargo transported in the port. In this way all regulations applicable to the transport of hazardous cargo in the ports will be applicable to these bunker vessels.
  • Port authorities should update their port by-laws, codices and general or municipal police decrees with specific aspects for LNG cargo vessels.
  • Development of regulations/procedures for truck to ship (TTS) bunkering, ship to ship (STS) bunkering, small scale LNG station to ship bunkering (ITPS: intermediary storage to ship via LNG pipeline), simultaneous bunkering & cargo handling, simultaneous bunkering & passenger embarking/debarking.
  • Development of standards and procedures (or amend current standards and procedures) for metering, measurement, fuel sampling & quality control.

The report can be found HERE.

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