Liquid Natural Gas On the Move In Ocean Shipping

According to shipbroker Gibson, the current orderbook for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) -fueled vessels stands at over 130 ships, including 40 containerships.

More and more container ship companies are buying ships utilizing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) to lower carbon footprint.

While aviation is working hard to reduce its carbon footprint, the sister travel and freight mode, sea going vessels, are also working at reducing carbon emissions. 

The challenge is more difficult since ocean going vessels for the most part, cannot use batteries as part of the solution. The salt in ocean water is invasive especially with the wind and waves associated with that mode of travel.

A fuel that is readily available right now, and does not require any further engineering or expensive processing with the resultant carbon emissions is Liquid Natural Gas. (LNG) LNG promises double digit reductions in both carbons and other particulate matter. And since batteries are not effective in ocean shipping, it may be the only sustainable fuel that can be applied to reduce carbon footprints in ocean going transport. 

According to Air Cargo News,  “Of these, Hapag-Lloyd has six 23,000 teu* vessels under construction at DSME, CMA CGM has four 22,000 teu vessels on order, along with nine 15,000 teu vessels at HHI, while Eastern Pacific Shipping has 10 14,800 teu ships on order.”  

There is less interest for ordering smaller LNG-fueled container vessels, due to the size of bunker tanks required. Moreover, the hefty price tag for conversion to LNG appears to rule out any significant retrofitting.

LNG-fueled containerships have been championed by CMA CGM**, which like Hapag-Lloyd, sees LNG as the “most environmentally friendly, readily available fuel for shipping today”, and as a transition fuel on the pathway towards the industry goal of net-zero GHG emissions for shipping by 2050. “These ships prove that decarbonization of the industry is possible using currently available technologies,” said UECC CEO Glenn Edvardsen.

*Twenty foot equivalent unit
**CMA CGM S.A. is a French container transportation and shipping company.

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