Marine use of LNG being examined

by Array

OTTAWA, Ontario—A major project is being undertaken on the West Coast to determine the future of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel in Canada.

The West Coast Marine LNG Supply Chain Project is described as a multi-stakeholder effort with the goal of understanding the “barriers to the use of liquefied natural gas as a marine fuel on the West Coast of Canada.”

The $1.2 million project is being run under the direction of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance and Marine Canada acting as lead consultant. There are 17 participants:

  • American Bureau of Shipping
  • BC Ferries
  • BC Institute of Technology
  • BC Ministry of Transportation–Pacific Gateway
  • Canadian Natural Gas Initiative
  • CSA Group
  • Encana Natural Gas Inc
  • FortisBC
  • Government of Canada (Transport Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada)
  • Lloyd’s Register Canada Ltd
  • Port Metro Vancouver
  • Rolls-Royce Canada Ltd
  • Seaspan ULC
  • Shell
  • Teekay
  • Wärtsilä
  • Westport Innovations

Beginning in the 2015-2016 shipping season, there will be changes to emissions regulations which will require vessels operating within Canada’s 322km (200-mile) territorial waters to use limit emissions of sulphur. LNG is seen as a fuel with the potential to help ship owners achieve lower emissions since it “emits no sulphur in the form of SOx and can reduce emissions of NOx and particulate matter by up to 80-90 percent. Greenhouse gas emissions can also be reduced by up to 25 percent compared with conventional marine fuels” according to information supplied by the West Coast Marine LNG Supply Chain Project.

But beyond its advantages, there are also challenges to using LNG in the marine industry. Currently, there are no Transport Canada safety regulations in place that regulate its nautical use. The government is, however, participating in the drafting of an international standard—the IGF Code for Low Flashpoint Fuels—by the International Maritime Organization.

For now there is also no common global LNG bunkering standard involving the transfer of fuel from an onshore facility, from a bunkering barge or from an LNG tanker truck. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is expected to release a draft technical guideline to address bunkering later this year.

“LNG bunkering is being considered by major ports around the world as one way to reduce emissions and enhance sustainability,” said Duncan Wilson, vice-president, corporate social responsibility, Port Metro Vancouver, “We are committed to growing Canada’s largest Gateway to the Asia Pacific in a sustainable way and LNG offers the potential to improve environmental performance and enhance our competitive position.”

In November, the project will issue a report addressing those concerns (among other regulatory issues). It will also document other aspects of LNG use including technology readiness, training, operational safety, environmental impact, and benefits to the Canadian economy.