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The new legislation from the United Nations’ shipping agency has set new limits for sulfur emissions from vessels that would come into effect from 2020. LNG as a bunker fuel has the inherent properties to comply with environmental emission norms that are to come into effect in future. This is because it has negligible sulfur content and its combustion emits low NOx as compared to that produced by fuel oil and marine diesel oil.
At present, only 45 vessels globally utilize LNG as a bunker fuel with the majority of these vessels operating in the inland waterways of Northern Europe. Nevertheless, port authorities in Northern Europe are investing substantially in promoting the use of LNG as a bunker fuel. For example, Norway is investing substantially for the development of LNG bunkering terminals at major trading ports. In Norway, the presence of several small-scale LNG production units enables easy distribution of LNG to bunker terminals.
Despite economic and environmental benefits, adoption of LNG is presently restricted to offshore support vessels and passenger ships. Underdeveloped infrastructure for handling LNG bunkering in world’s major ports is considerably challenging the growth of LNG bunkering market.
Nevertheless, projects underway for the development of LNG refueling infrastructure in world’s major ports is expected to boost the adoption of LNG bunker and may even be used by the mainstream marine sector. Furthermore, the emergence of policy based support network and strict emission compliance regulations in place will play a crucial role in the development of LNG bunkering industry.
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At present, Europe tops among other regional markets for LNG bunkering. Inland ferries and offshore support vessels are the initial adopters of LNG as a bunker fuel in the region. Several pre-investment studies have been carried out at major ports in Europe to gauge the feasibility of expansion of LNG bunkering capacities.
North America is also emerging as a significant market for LNG bunkering to comply with sulfur emission norms for marine vessels that will come into effect in the near future. The economical prices of natural gas compared to fuel oil and diesel oil is attracting shipping companies to make investments for LNG fueled vessels. In addition, In North America, the shale gas boom is a crucial development encouraging gas distribution companies to make investments in LNG bunkering services.
China and South Korea are taking initiatives for the use of LNG as a marine bunkering fuel.
Ferries and Offshore Support Vessels to Continue as Leading End-user for LNG Bunker
At present, ferries and offshore support vessels (OSVs) account for the major consumption of LNG as a bunker fuel. They are expected to display the leading consumption of LNG bunker until 2020. The LNG bunkering facilities at existing European ports have been designed to serve the fuel needs of OSVs and ferries. Passenger ships and ferries in Europe ply in inland waterways and thus shipping companies are switching to LNG bunker fuel to comply with sulfur emission regulations.
In Asia Pacific, deep-sea ships predominantly tankers and container ships are expected to use LNG bunker after strict regulations for sulfur emissions have been enforced. In North America, container ships and tankers are expected to be the primary consumers of LNG bunker over the forecast period. Tanker vessels are expected to be dominant end-user of LNG bunker fuel in the Rest of the World region in the future.
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Some of the leading companies in the global LNG Bunkering Market are Harvey Gulf International Marine LLC, Skangass AS, Gasnor AS, GDF SUEZ S.A., and Korea Gas Corporation.
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