Page 55 - European Energy Innovation - autumn 2017 publication
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Autumn 2017 European Energy Innovation  55


Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel
SGMF – 4 years and counting

By SGMF London Secretariat, Mark Bell General Manager

AGlobal sulphur cap for                     There is the option of the industry        Publications to date have been
               marine heavy fuel oils will  burning refined oil fuels. However          numerous and their goal is to develop
               signify the end to a one     their price is uncertain and the           guidelines than can be used by
               fuel for all for shipping    environmental benefits not as great.        appropriate authorities for standards
from 2020 onwards. Whilst apparently        In fact, the operator right now can        that can be safe and more widely used,
slow to change, maritime is grappling       continue to use heavy fuel oil so long     and at the same time, the multitude of
with a hunt for alternative and more        as the exhaust is washed clean of          benefits from its use are realised.
environmentally friendly fuels. Natural     sulphur. As we speak this acidic water
gas is amongst the contenders to help       wash may be pumped overboard,              Since its instigation in the Autumn
bridge the gap and it offers significant     effectively cutting pollution to           of 2013 SGMF, Society for Gas as a
advantages for the industry, but it is      atmosphere and polluting the oceans,       Marine Fuel has set up shop in the
not the ultimate solution by any means.     but it wont be long before this practice   City of London as a wholly separate,
                                            is banned. Regulatory uncertainty here     but complementary NGO to the
Since the switch to oil for fuel as         sees an extremely low take up for this     others that already exist. Much as the
marine propulsion, maritime has             high investment for shipowners with        regulatory bible for LNG transportation
developed sophisticated machinery           current newbuildings.                      has become the IGC code; the IGF
to effectively utilise what is left at the                                             code covers all matters pertaining
bottom of a barrel of crude after all       Aside from the Scandinavian short          to the use of LNG on ships as a fuel.
the goodies have been refined and            sea area and back to back ferry            Industry is recognising the significant
taken out. Ultimately these oils include    operations, the significant sectors         difference in the issues between the
sulphur in various quantities and,          are cruise and container. Cruise sees      two and it is no different when it comes
from 2020, this cannot be more than         almost all newbuildings with gas           to regulation and the need for the
0.5% for shipping. Other industries         as fuel. It is container however the       Industry body has never been greater.
such as automotive, utilities and           deep sea container sector that will set    As of now 120 members from across
power are also switching fuels, and         the dominoes falling in LNG fuelled        the industry and growing, the pace of
gas is on the agenda for them too.          newbuildings and the 2020 deadline         the maritime industry embracing the
However ships by their autonomous           might just be the catalyst for the switch  issues surrounding the use of LNG as a
nature need portable fuels and natural      to LNG.                                    fuel is taking place.
gas is a very good fit. Other fuels,
typically methanol and ethanol are          Whilst there is a vast difference          In 2017 there has been a step change
also in the mix as are Nuclear and          between carrying LNG in bulk on a          in LNG bunker delivery capacity
Hydrogen. However availability and          ship and burning it for propulsive         worldwide from 1 vessel of just 150
cost lead to the choice of natural gas      power, natural gas is liquefied to          [m3] capacity to seven vessels from
with a clear break in any link to the       provide transportation efficiencies         SGMF member organisations with
price of oil expected over the coming       and in both cases these cryogenic          27500 [m3] between them. These
years. Nuclear remains a sound              technicalities are well known and          delivery vessels represent both a
and understood source of power              understood. Nearly 50 years of             huge investment and significant
for ships but it is hard to imagine         operations in LNG transportation has       commitment and I am confident we
its widespread acceptance and use           proved the process of authoritative        will see the same step change in the
for what is a current world fleet of         and careful development of industry        number of ships using gas as a fuel,
some 55,000 merchant ships over             guidelines and with sensible regulation    placing LNG firmly in the mix for
500 [GRT]. Hydrogen is an ultimate          as the right way to go.                    marine fuels for the foreseeable
solution having zero emissions upon                                                    future. ●
combustion except for water. However        SGMF has been is established as the
its production, containment and are         Industry representative framework            For more information:
still at least a generation away, leaving   organisation that works to keep the
natural gas as a sound intermediate         use of LNG safe and efficient whilst
fuel until those solutions are found.       advocating its use safely and correctly.
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