LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) could potentially be the next big shift in the marine industry. Shipping is responsible for transporting around 90% of the goods in the world and is a massive user of carbon fuels. Making shipping more environmentally sustainable is top priority for the industry, since the International Maritime Organisation has planned to have all ships cut their sulphur emissions to 0.5% by 2020.
Beyond that, governments and businesses are looking at the best and most cost-effective ways to reduce their carbon footprint and save money. The UK, Japan and South Korea are some of the biggest importers of LNG, and the market is set to expand over the next few years and beyond.
Liquified Natural Gas is predominantly made of methane and is treated to remove water, hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide, and will then be cooled down to -162 degrees Celsius and into a liquid form. This makes LNG easier to transport and store. It is odourless, colourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive.
Liquified Natural Gas also achieves a higher reduction in volume than Compressed Natural Gas, so is far more cost effective to transport over long distances. This is partly why LNG is predicted to hit 10% of the global crude production by 2020, with demand expected to be over 300 million tonnes a year.
LNG can be used in conjunction with electrical energy to create a hybrid fuel system and is set to disrupt the long-standing diesel and crude oil market that has fuelled the Marine sector for decades.
Using LNG would eliminate sulphur emissions as well as reduce nitrous oxide emissions; this has been seen in the Port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe, opening a third berth for small LNG vessels and tankers. Liquified Natural Gas is a large development in sustainability for the Marine sector, as one of the largest barriers to implementing any new fuel is lack of infrastructure. Large-scale distribution of LNG will be made much easier when large ports adopt the fuel, leading the industry to follow suit.
One of the most important elements for the LNG market is the widespread implementation of LNG plants for production, liquefication and transportation. LNG bunkering facilities will need to be installed in ports around the world to encourage and enable the industry to take LNG more seriously. It’s estimated that there will between 400 and 600 LNG facilities around the world by 2020.
Currently there are very few ships operating with LNG, but more are being ordered and older ships are converted to LNG fuel systems. The first US export of LNG was completed in 2016, so the Marine industry still has many hurdles to clear, but if the proper infrastructure is implemented LNG could well become its dominant fuel source.
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