LNG is so far the cleanest fuel on the market, eliminating sulfur emission by 99%, fine particle emission by 99%, and nitrogen oxide emission by 85%. (If you're not familiar with LNG, here is a short article which will give you the key facts: "Everything you need to know about LNG bunkers ")
In theory this all sounds positive, but in practice various ship owners and industry leaders have been sharing different opinions than those put forward by the supplier. The debate about the use of LNG also gathered pace recently when the World Bank reported that governments should reconsider their support of LNG on environmental and economic grounds. Here is a summary of some of the key points emerging:
1) Initial investment to retrofit engines and fuel tanks on vessels to use alternative fuels, such as LNG, is very costly. And although LNG bunkers are currently available in many hub ports, for example Rotterdam and Singapore, the broader availability of LNG bunkers is still very limited. These factors make some people doubt whether the high investment is worth it, and whether alternative fuels on the market will both readily available and sustainable in the longer term.
2) LNG is extracted using fracking and this process uses fossil fuel. The end product may be cleaner, but if we consider the production and transportation process as a whole, the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions can be higher! So the debate about using conventional fossil fuel bunker oil or LNG bunker oil continues, with some believing there can be "lifecycle emissions gains at best and even higher emissions at worst".
3) With LNG, there is a risk that unburned methane can escape into the atmosphere. This is known as a methane slip. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 36 times more warming than CO2 over a 100-year period. Despite these concerns, recent research has shown that LNG still outperforms methanol and ammonia produced using fossil fuels.
4) The price on the current market is very high, and due to the complexity of the product, the bunkering operation is far more dangerous than conventional bunkering.
Next month (June 2021), the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) is expected to propose measures to reduce emissions - one of these measures could be to introduce a levy to ensure that the cost of future fuels is more competitive.
We'll keep you updated on how the debate progresses. In the meantime, feel free to make a comment, ask a question in the section below, or contact us at email@example.com
This source shows a recent interview conducted by Lloyds List webinar discussing LNG bunkers. https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1136761/Shipping-leaders-disagree-on-future-of-LNG-in-shipping