Australia Prepares for LNG Fueled Vessels

By Eric Haun at May 25, 2016 09:31
Filed Under: Fuels & Lubes, General, LNG fuel

Australia is well positioned to employ vessels fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) in certain sectors, according to an expert panel at a seminar organized by Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) at the LNG18 conference.

In fact the initiative is already in motion, as Woodside and Siem Offshore have partnered to launch their first LNG fueled vessel in 2017, and Bass Strait freight service operator SeaRoad Shipping will also introduce its purpose built LNG fueled cargo vessel later this year.

Members of the 'LNG as a Marine Fuel' panel said Australia holds a “natural advantage” due to its possession of abundant LNG reserves as well as the necessary expertise.

Much of the work has already been done in this area and that the regulator was prepared for LNG fueled vessels, according to Alex Schultz-Altmann from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Nick Rea, from EVOL LNG, added that a well established domestic LNG industry is in place to service the LNG marine bunkering requirements of most major ports around Australia today, while relatively low cost truck-to-ship or shore-to-ship infrastructure can be made available quickly, opening a way for vessel owners to more easily consider LNG as a marine fuel.

However, despite LNG’s apparent appeal for Australian ship owners, the panel also acknowledged that the motivation to convert to LNG has been somewhat diminished due to current low oil prices.

The panel determined that being “ready to go” when market conditions changed still requires a cohesive approach. As Banu Kannu, Wärtsilä’s GM Marketing, indicated “it feels like there are pockets of success in Australia, in terms of the use of LNG as marine fuel, but there is little communication across the various stakeholders. We need an LNG as Marine Fuel cluster that shares experiences and produces a consistent approach so everyone benefits.”

Woodside Orders Australia's first LNG Support Vessel
Woodside has signed a five-year charter contract with Norwegian company Siem Offshore Australia Pty Ltd, an agreement that will deliver Australia’s first LNG-powered marine support vessel in 2017.

Woodside Chief Operations Officer Mike Utsler said the announcement positioned the company as an early adopter of LNG as a marine fuel in the region. “We’re thrilled to be the first company to bring one of these vessels to the southern hemisphere,” Utsler said. “Australia is on track to become the world’s largest producer of LNG, so it makes perfect sense to build dual-fuel capabilities for our marine fleets here.

“Our LNG tankers use their cargo to power their engines, making them cleaner vessels that use less diesel. It’s natural that we progress this capability through to our support vessels,” Utsler added.

Woodside’s new vessel will support to the company’s assets in the Exmouth and Pilbara regions.

Woodside said it will continue to seek to expand the application of LNG-fueling in transportation in Western Australia.

SeaRoad's LNG-fueled Ro/Ro
SeaRoad has partnered with German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co. KG (FSG) to build its first LNG fuelled roll-on/roll-off cargo ships, purpose-built to service Bass Strait. The delivery of the 182-meter-long vessel is planned for late 2016.

According to SeaRoad, the new vessel boasts a particularly flexible cargo carrying capability and is able to transport containers, including reefer units, trailers, cars, hazardous cargo, livestock, over dimensional and other mobile units.

The ship is being built under cover in modules, to be assembled in the shipyard, and launched directly from the facility prior to the superstructure being added to the hull. The fitout including the superstructure block will then be undertaken alongside at the yard.

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