ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS OF LNG

Environmental Regulations

Considering the stricter environmental regulations imposed by IMO, researchers and the European Commission agrees upon that LNG could be the answer, at least in the medium term. Ship owners that operate in ECA have to comply with a SOx limit of 0.1%, in addition the stricter control of NOx emissions that came in force last year (2016), which means that shipbuilders have to reduce NOx emissions to 80% (this will only be valid for Tier III engine standards in ECA.). By 2020, the sulfur level will be further reduced to 0.5% globally, this making LNG attractive not only within ECA but worldwide as well. The European Commission has issued a draft on a suggestion that considers LNG is a preferred fuel for marine transportation and requires all European seaports to be able to provide LNG bunker services. Due to strengthen environmental regulations, there are reasons to believe faster LNG penetration in the maritime market, at least within ECA territories.

In order to comply with the new ECA regulations, there are three main options. The first is to switch to higher-quality fuel (low in sulfur, also known as distillates), second is to use exhaust abatement technologies or to choose LNG. There are many studies done on alternative fuels to comply with the regulations, and many of these studies conclude that LNG is the most favorable alternative fuel. LNG can offer a substantial reduction in emissions from ships because LNG has a higher hydrogen-to-carbon ratio in comparison to HFO; the specific CO2 emissions will be lower. In addition, LNG does not contain sulfur, which means almost no SOx emissions and almost no principle matter (PM) emissions. LNG can even decrease the operational costs by

Consider the life cycle of LNG emissions, an estimation of approximately 10% lower total emissions than diesel life cycle emissions is realistic. When considering the maritime shipping sector there is important to notice that the business is mostly concerned about the last phase of the life cycle, the combustion phase, rather than lifecycle emissions in order to comply with the environmental regulatory by IMO. Ship owners also know that LNG does not require any exhaust gas cleaning technology, therefore LNG represents a cheaper alternative compared with other distillates.

However, there are also a lot of challenges with LNG, some of the challenges include a high degree of uncertainty on the differential between the LNG and conventional maritime fuel prices, availability of LNG and the reliability of its supply chain. Due to this, LNG as a fuel for maritime shipping is still in the “newborn” phase. It is clear that LNG is the best choice among the other alternative fuels when it comes to its performance regarding the environmental compliance imposed by IMO. Still, there are a lot of challenges that need to be overcome if the usage of LNG as a fuel for ships shall increase.

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