On the occasion of the “LNG: The Norwegian Experience” conference organized by the German-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce along with Innovation Norway and the classification society DNV Germany, the KV Barentshav, a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel powered by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), docked at the port of Hamburg’s Überseebrücke pier.

The KV Barentshav is powered through a diesel-fuelled main engine or through an LNG-fuelled electric motor. Four LNG-fuelled engines produce power for the electric motor to start and stop automatically, depending on power requirements. The diesel engine only kicks in for towing assignments and during high speed operations. The 93.0-metre-long and 16.6-metre beam vessel displaces 4,000 tonnes (grt) and with a bollard pull of 100 tonnes is capable of holding a 150,000-tonne tanker steady during a storm.

LNG plays an important role in the reduction of emissions from marine transportation, as the use of natural gas allows reductions of nitrous oxide emissions by almost 90 per cent, in comparison to diesel fuel, and reductions of carbon dioxide by up to 20 per cent. Emissions of sulphur dioxide and particulates are reduced to negligible levels. In addition, engine wear and resulting operating expenses are reduced.

In their efforts to promote the use of LNG in the port of Hamburg, Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) and Linde Group are presently conducting a feasibility study on the commercial use of LNG in the port of Hamburg. The findings of this research could lead to the establishment of required infrastructure projects such as an LNG bunkering facility in the port. “Port of Hamburg should be a leader for environmental friendliness and efficiency. In the future, propulsion systems using LNG should be playing a part here. Port of Hamburg performs an immensely important role as a feeder port for the Baltics and, consequently, we are working on the essential preliminaries for the LNG infrastructure needed in Hamburg. We are also looking into equipping newbuilds for our own fleet with LNG technology,” says HPA Managing Director Jens Meier.

To learn from the experiences of the pioneers in building and operating LNG-powered ships, HPA is communicating with experts from Norway. Norway has had LNG-powered ferries for over ten years, and has installed the necessary infrastructure for fueling ships of this type. Fourteen Norwegian terminals have been designed for storage of LNG as a marine fuel, and four of these are already in use as bunkering stations.

“Shipping has a green future. Norway is the global leader in the use of LNG for marine propulsion. Germany cannot miss the boat here and can learn a lot from Norway. We see it as our task to act as intermediary between the two countries and to create opportunities for cooperation,” stresses Kathrin Luze-Hercz, Deputy CEO of the German-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce.

For shipping companies, both the retrofitting of existing fleets to use LNG as fuel, as well as the construction of new LNG-powered ships represent realistic alternatives. “An analysis of fuel choices reveals that between 10 and 15 per cent of the newbuilds delivered by 2020 will have the capability to use LNG as fuel. This equates to about 1,000 ships,” explains Lars Sørum, Director Technology & Services, Maritime Oil & Gas for DNV Europe & North Africa. “Larger vessels will benefit more from using LNG than smaller vessels. Furthermore, an LNG-fuelled engine can be justified if a ship spends about 30 per cent of its sailing time in emission control areas,” he adds. Running a ship on LNG will require reliable supplies of LNG in ports, and international standardization and regulations for the use and storage of LNG as fuel for ships will be important steps. For this reason, DNV is contributing within International Organization for Standardization for the development of internationally accepted standards for bunkering. “In 2020, the number of ships using LNG will increase significantly with the introduction of global sulphur limits.