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LR: Retrofit or newbuild? The challenge for shipowners seeking future carbon compliance

‘We estimate that at least 45% of ships today will not be compliant with carbon intensity regulations in three years’ time. Owners are asking us many more questions,’ says Nikos Tsatsaros of LR.

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Classification society Lloyd’s Register recently published an article on the growing demand for replacement ships as shipowners face more carbon regulations targeting older, less efficient ships. Three Lloyd’s Register experts share their views on whether it’s wiser to retrofit an existing vessel to improve its carbon ratings or replace it with a new one: 

As Program Manager of LR’s Maritime Decarbonisation Hub, Charles Haskell is well-placed to outline challenges facing shipowners today as they weigh up the options of retrofits versus new so-called ‘future-proofed’ newbuild ships. The reality is no ship can be fully future-proofed yet because the marine fuels of the future are still under development and there are few rules, designs or builders, no crews, and no managers for the ships of tomorrow.

Perhaps most importantly from a Class point of view, there are no safety frameworks yet, though Haskell and his team are engaged in an ammonia-for-fuel project. It is focusing on a detailed quantitative safety risk assessment spanning several industrial sectors, outside shipping, over several decades.

But the reality is that ship designers cannot even offer blueprints yet; shipbuilders don’t know what materials will be required; repairers have no experience of new fuel technologies; ships’ crews are not trained to handle new fuels or operate ships which use them; and shipowners’ land-based staff, including experienced superintendents, will need to learn about new fuel supply systems, storage, and combustion technologies.

Haskell refers to the Maritime Just Transition Task Force, set up during COP26, in which LR was involved, which has concluded that no fewer than 800,000 seafarers will need to be trained by 2030.

Three decades of retrofits

Haskell has clear views on the question of retrofit or replace. He points to analysis from The Silk Alliance, an initiative set up by the LR Maritime Decarbonisation Hub of 11 members (now 12) that has developed a future fuel framework to enable the setting up of a scalable green corridor cluster. Their analysis has revealed that quite apart from existing ships, 20-30% of those that are built in the years ahead will need to undergo retrofits before 2050.

That means, Haskell explains, that the challenge facing owners and operators today is not only what to do with existing ships, especially younger ones; it is also how to ensure that ships designed and built in the balance of this decade can be retrofitted effectively and economically before the middle of the century.

Nikos Tsatsaros is LR’s New Constructions Sales Director. He has seen a significant change in owners’ thinking over the last year. “There is now a realisation that the clock is ticking,” he says. “We have moved on from theory; two years ago, they were asking ‘what is ammonia, what is methanol?’

“Our clients realise that they need a technical understanding of what is coming and to understand the technologies and how they work, how crews can be prepared, and how ships may be designed and operated. They certainly need to know that there will be an acceptable return on investment. And they realise that collaboration with charterers is essential.”

Complex charter negotiations

Tsatsaros reveals that charter negotiations on new ships are growing in complexity. For owners, adopting new technologies is about investment returns and therefore close attention is required to clauses in the charterparty agreement relating to ship performance. On new projects that are under development, Tsatsaros sees some charterers who are proving to be supportive, others who are not. More collaboration is required.

“We have an essential role to play here. Our vision is to be the trusted adviser to our clients, whether it be in new construction or retrofits. Charterers’ strategies vary and some say that extra costs are for an owners’ account. Others are more realistic If the cost of providing the service goes up, the charterer will have to pay more. I think charterers’ views are softening. It’s a matter of collaboration between different stakeholders.”

Retrofits on younger ships often make good sense, he says, but options become limited on older vessels where significant capital investment won’t pay back over the vessel’s operational lifespan. Meanwhile, some new technologies cannot be installed on existing ships and the cost of a retrofit could actually work out to be more expensive. In these cases, LR’s cost benefit analyses can prove invaluable, he says.

Tsatsaros also stresses the broad range of owners and their access to resources. The industry’s leading pioneers, such as major container lines, have sufficient muscle to test new fuels on their own, but most shipowners lack the resources for this.

“Smaller owners want advice on available options, techno-economic guidance, and involvement in joint development projects. We are engaged in a large number of these, across both newbuild and retrofit projects,” he says.

Practical aspects are key considerations. “When owners have understood the new technologies that are likely to become available, they are asking how ships can be made ready today for economically viable modifications tomorrow. And, of course, there are different levels of ‘readiness’.”

“As an adviser, we can step in and say: ‘These are the options. Here’s how we can help you. Let’s work with a designer, a shipyard, an engine builder, and others, to identify the best strategy and develop something that best suits your needs.’”

Speaking of the existing fleet, Tsatsaros says there is no time to lose. “We estimate that at least 45% of ships today will not be compliant with carbon intensity regulations in three years’ time. Owners are asking us many more questions; what’s happening in China, what’s happening in South Korea, are there enough shipyards?

“This last question is important from a retrofit perspective. If there are no newbuilding slots available, then retrofitting older ships may be the only option. If there is a proper cost analysis and a good charterparty where the charterer is willing to share the cost, then you have an asset with another ten years of viable operation. However, my concern is that charterers may not yet be ready to support retrofit projects. Of course, it depends, and must be viewed on a case-by-case basis.”

Note: The full article ‘Retrofit or newbuild? The challenge for shipowners seeking future carbon compliance’ can be found here

 

Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 10 April, 2023

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Ammonia

HD KSOE receives Lloyd’s Register AiP for ammonia fuel supply system

Fuel supply system addresses the pressing need for sustainable fuel solutions, significantly contributing to efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the global fleet, says LR.

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HD KSOE receives LR AiP for ammonia fuel supply system

Classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR) has granted Approval in Principle (AiP) to HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (HD KSOE) for their ammonia fuel supply system, which will be used on ammonia new constructions.

The newly developed ammonia fuel supply system shows complete compatibility with high-efficiency cargo handling systems and ammonia engines.

The approval certifies the fuel supply system against LR’s rigorous risk-based certification (RBC-1) process and marks the successful conclusion of a Joint Development Project (JDP) between LR and HD KSOE, which began in April 2024.

The primary objective of the JDP was to develop and refine the design concept of an ammonia fuel supply system for ammonia-fuelled vessels.

LR said the AiP represents the substantial step that LR and HD KSOE have taken towards pioneering innovative solutions for emission reduction in the maritime industry.

“Ammonia, with its capacity to meet the rising demand for emission reduction solutions, represents a promising alternative fuel for the maritime industry,” it said.

“This fuel supply system addresses the pressing need for sustainable fuel solutions, significantly contributing to efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the global fleet.”  

Young-Doo Kim, Global Technical Support Office Representative for Korea, Lloyd’s Register, said: “This approval in principle represents another significant step for developing the technology required for shipowners and operators' adoption of ammonia, one of the primary candidate fuels for the maritime energy transition.”

“We are pleased to continue our strong working relationship with HD KSOE through this joint project that will provide a valuable solution for ammonia propelled ships.”

Young-jun Nam, Vice Present & COO of HD KSOE, said: “Ammonia is a zero-carbon fuel that is attracting great attention in terms of economics and supply stability. HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering will lead the field of eco-friendly equipment and materials to take the lead in commercialising ammonia in 2025.”

 

Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 25 June, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Erik Thun takes delivery of LNG dual-fuel tanker “Thun Vettern”

Vessel, which is the latest contribution to the Vinga-series, has dual-fuel capability, runs on LNG/LBG or gasoil and is fully equipped for shore power connection when available in ports.

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Erik Thun takes delivery of LNG dual-fuel tanker “Thun Vettern”

Shipping firm Erik Thun on Monday (24 June) said it has taken delivery of Thun Vettern, a 17,999-dwt vessel, which was built by China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Yangzhou.

The vessel is an upgraded version of the sister Thun Venern. Thun Vettern is the latest contribution to the “Vinga-series”, all trading within the Gothia Tanker Alliance. The Thun Vettern is the newest and latest edition to the Vinga-series and she has ice class 1A. 

The vessels in the Vinga-series all have dual-fuel capability, run on LNG/LBG or gasoil and are fully equipped for shore power connection when available in ports.

They are designed with a battery hybrid solution and several innovative features that reduce fuel and energy consumption, resulting in extensively lowered emissions of CO2, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and hazardous particles. 

The firm said the ships have scored the best Energy Efficiency Design Index or EEDI value in their segment globally, meaning that they are the most energy efficient vessels according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 

The Vinga-series is designed for the intense and demanding trade in the North Sea and Scandinavia, well suited to meet the growing European demand for biofuels and renewable feedstocks.

Erik Thun´s close partner Furetank will technically and commercially manage the new vessel which upon delivery will enter into the Gothia Tanker Alliance network.

“Sustainability work has always been and will be a focus ahead for Erik Thun. To take delivery of a resource efficient, top performing product tanker like Thun Vettern, and further deepen our good and long-term co-operation with Furetank is a great example of our vision to be a sustainable Swedish partner over generations,” said Johan Källsson, Managing Director at Erik Thun AB.

 

Photo credit: Erik Thun
Published: 25 June, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Wärtsilä on LNG bunker fuel: Expert answers to 17 important questions

Firm gives an expert overview on top questions on LNG bunker fuel including if LNG is a future fuel and what does LNG being a transition fuel means.

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RESIZED Chris Pagan

Technology group Wärtsilä on Wednesday (19 June) gave an expert overview on top 17 questions related to LNG bunker fuel in this insight article including if LNG is a future fuel: 

Your choice of fuel affects both your profitability and your vessel’s environmental compliance. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a safe and cost-effective fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants. LNG is playing a key role as a transition fuel and is widely seen as the first step towards decarbonising the maritime industry.

Switching to LNG as fuel for ship propulsion requires investment but can save you fuel costs, increase your profitability and reduce compliance risks. The expert answers to these 17 questions will tell you what you need to know about LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping.

What is LNG?

LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to -162°C (-260°F), turning it into a clear, odourless liquid that is easy to ship and store. LNG is typically 85–95% methane, which contains less carbon than other forms of fossil fuels. It is a compact, efficient form of energy that is ideal for ship propulsion.

What is LNG used for?

LNG is primarily used as a clean-burning energy source. It is used for electricity generation, heating, cooking, and as a transportation fuel. LNG is also used as a raw material for products like fertilisers and plastics.

In the shipping industry, LNG as fuel is used for ship propulsion, auxiliary power generation and other onboard energy needs. LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping has gained wide popularity due to its clean-burning properties and potential to help meet stricter emissions regulations.

What are the sources of LNG as fuel for ships? What is bioLNG?

LNG as fuel for ships is produced from natural gas extracted from underground reserves, including both onshore and offshore gas fields.

BioLNG is LNG produced from biogas, which is generated from organic waste like food scraps, agricultural waste, manure and sewage sludge. BioLNG is considered a renewable fuel and can further reduce the carbon footprint of ships using LNG fuel systems.

 Is LNG just methane?

LNG is primarily methane (typically 85–95%), but it also contains small amounts of ethane, propane and other hydrocarbons. LNG can also contain trace amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The exact composition of LNG may vary depending on the source of the natural gas and the liquefaction process used.

 LNG fuel vs. fuel oil: is LNG better than diesel?

Compared to diesel fuel oil, LNG offers several advantages. LNG produces significantly lower emissions when burned, including:

  • 20–30% less CO2 
  • 15-25% less total GHG
  • 90% less NOx 
  • 99% less SOx 
  • Almost no particulate matter (PM) 

LNG engines are also quieter. 

However, LNG has a lower energy density than diesel, so using LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping will require more fuel and therefore larger fuel tanks to achieve the same range.

 What are the advantages and disadvantages of LNG fuel?

The key advantages of LNG as fuel include reduced emissions and cost competitiveness. There is also an established and continuously growing global network of LNG bunkering facilities.

The disadvantages of using LNG as fuel for ships include the need for specialised equipment and training and the potential for methane slip.

Methane slip is when unburned methane, a potent greenhouse gas, escapes into the atmosphere. Modern dual-fuel engines will minimise this issue. Depending on engine type and load, you can reduce methane slip by up to 65% by upgrading your ship’s existing engines. Over the last 30 years, Wärtsilä has reduced the methane slip from its engines by around 90%.

 Is LNG environmentally friendly?

LNG is cleaner burning than traditional marine fuels, but it is still a fossil fuel. BioLNG, which is LNG produced from organic waste or biomass, can be considered a more sustainable alternative to fossil-based LNG as it has a lower carbon footprint. However, the production and combustion of bioLNG still emit some greenhouse gases. LNG can be seen as a bridging fuel in the transition to alternative fuels like methanol and ammonia, which aren’t yet widely available at scale.

 Is LNG a future fuel?

LNG both is and isn’t a future fuel. It enables lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduces other harmful air pollutants compared to fuel oil, but it is still a fossil fuel. Sustainable future fuels are crucial for maritime decarbonisation, but the current cost, limited availability and insufficient infrastructure are challenging for operators. This gives LNG an important role to play in the shipping industry’s transition to a zero-carbon future.

As more ports develop LNG bunkering infrastructure and more ships are built with LNG fuel systems, the use of LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping is expected to increase. LNG is considered a stepping stone on the path to decarbonisation as the industry moves closer to using true future fuels such as methanol and ammonia.

Note: The full article by Wärtsilä can be found here.

 

Photo credit: Chris Pagan on Unsplash
Published: 24 June, 2024

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