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China Classification Society: ‘Incredible progress’ on Chinese LNG sector in decade

05 Nov 2018

China has made “incredible progress” in the field of liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel construction and the use of LNG as a marine fuel within the past decade, says the General Manager of China Classification Society (CCS) Singapore Branch.

“In 2008, the first large LNG carrier was built in Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard, marking the beginning of China’s entry into the LNG newbuilding market,” Jiang Botao told Singapore bunker publication Manifold Times in an exclusive interview.

“The past ten years saw more than 20 LNG carriers of various sizes and more than 200 LNG-fuelled ships sailing out of Chinese yards.

“Today, China is capable of building any LNG-related ship type, including large ice class LNG carriers, LNG FSRUs (floating storage regasification units), LNG power barges, floating LNG facilities, large LNG-fuelled ships, and more.”

According to Jiang, a total of more than 400 LNG-fuelled ships are either currently in operation or confirmed in the global orderbook as of October 2018.

Several of such LNG-powered vessels are currently under construction in China; this includes CMA CGM’s nine 22,000 TEUs containerships being constructed at China State Shipbuilding Corporation, Forward Maritime’s 20 dry bulk carriers at Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group, and Siem Car Carriers’ two Ro-Ro vessels, the world’s largest, at Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry.

“China’s government is always proactive in promoting the application of LNG as a marine fuel while encouraging the industry to carry out related R&D (research and development) projects,” he shares.

“China has already established a comprehensive regulatory and standard framework for waterborne LNG application, from LNG production at sea, LNG transportation, distribution, bunkering and as a marine fuel.

“Further, the country has its own gas engine manufacturer, tank providers, fuel gas supply system suppliers, and thousands of experts and factories in the marine LNG field to support the national gas ecosystem.”

As of this June, China has 280 LNG-fuelled ships in operation (including newbuildings and retrofitted vessels), and 19 LNG bunkering stations including onshore refuelling facilities and floating bunkering pontoons located mostly along Yangtze River, Pearl River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand canal, notes Jiang.

The China Ministry of Transport has also set a national plan to have more than 10% newbuild river and river-to-sea commercial ships, and more than 15% newbuild public service ships, including China Maritime Safety Administration enforcement ships and patrol boats, to consume LNG as a fuel by 2025.

To support the plan, it will establish a preliminary LNG bunkering network by 2020 to support future LNG-powered ships.

Dalian Shipbuilding Industry (DSI) and ENN Group in October 2018 entered into a newbuilding contract to construct an 8,500 cubic metre (m3) capacity LNG bunkering tanker.

The 8,500 m3 ENN Group bunkering vessel is the largest to use type ‘C’ LNG tanks when compared to existing LNG bunkering tankers (using similar tank systems) such as Babcock Schulte Energy’s 7,500 m3 Kairos delivered on Oct 25, 2018 and Shell’s 6,500 m3 capacity Cardissa which entered into operations since 2017.

“The design, fabrication, testing and inspection of type ‘C’ LNG tank is very mature in China and the cost of such tanks is much lower than other types such as a membrane tank or type ‘B’ tank,” explains Jiang.

“Besides easier installation, a type ‘C’ tank is able to hold the boil-off gas (BOG) pressure without additional treatment systems or equipment for the bunkering vessel.”

Apart from bunkering, the multi-function ENN Group vessel will be able to provide LNG carrier precooling and gas-testing services to LNG carriers and large LNG-fuelled ships; it will also be equipped with an onboard gas combustion unit (GCU) to treat the possible excessive gas (e.g. return from the LNG-fuelled ships) or excessive BOG in its own tanks.

“To reduce the waste of BOG while ensuring high manoeuvrability, the LNG bunkering tanker will be equipped with a dual fuel engine with controllable pitch propeller (CPP),” he adds.

“As a reliable mooring system is vital to a bunkering vessel, an optimized system for ship-to-ship mooring will be adopted for this vessel.”

The ENN Group LNG bunkering tanker is scheduled for delivery in 2020; it will support LNG operations at a newly opened Zhoushan LNG import and distribution terminal in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, and complement LNG bunkering operations at Zhoushan port when delivered.

Related: ENN Energy orders 8,500 m3 LNG bunkering tanker to support terminal ops
Related: LNG bunkering well organised and rapidly developing in China
Related: China: Ministry of Transport outlines draft LNG bunkering strategy

Photo credit: China Classification Society (CCS) Singapore Branch
Published: 5 November, 2018


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