Thursday, January 20, 2011

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Is momentum for LNG-powered shipping building?

Liquefied natural gas may beat out nuclear and fuel-cell technology as shipping lines look for cleaner and cheaper alternatives to traditional heavy- fuel oil, said Det Norske Veritas.

“LNG is the best alternative we have from an environmental and financial point of view,” Remi Eriksen, chief operating officer at ship inspector Det Norske Veritas, said at a [recent] conference in Singapore. Nuclear power will remain socially unacceptable, while fuel-cell technology isn’t yet advanced enough, he said.

Shipbuilders have begun developing LNG engines as the International Maritime Organization draws up regulations to lower carbon and sulfur emissions to pare pollution. The shipping industry emits about 3 percent of the world’s carbon each year, equivalent to 1 billion tons, according to Thor Jorgen Guttormsen, president of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association.

LNG vessels would likely cost about 10 percent to 15 percent more to build than traditional ships, said Eriksen. In the long run, there would be cost-savings because LNG is cheaper than heavy fuel, he said.

Heavy-fuel oil is the sludge left over after crude oil is refined into more valuable products such as gasoline and jet fuel.

There are now about 23 ferries and offshore support vessels that run on gas engines in Norway, Eriksen said.

LNG cuts carbon emissions from shipping by about 25 percent, sulfur oxides by almost 100 percent and nitrogen oxides by 85 percent, according to Det Norske Veritas. Nitrogen oxide pollution is also being curtailed under the regulations.

-Bloomberg BusinessWeek

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