BUSINESS

LNG-powered ship fleet needs more infrastructure to expand

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Shipping

The number of new liquefied natural gas-powered vessels will almost double around the globe this year, as the deadline for slashing the sulfur content of bunker fuel is fast approaching, but their further increase to significant figures greatly depends on the improvement of infrastructure, a senior market monitoring official tells Kathimerini English Edition.

In January 2020 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will impose a limit of 0.5 percent of sulfur in the fuel that merchant vessels use (down from the current limit of 3.5 percent), forcing many to install exhaust gas cleaning systems, or scrubbers, to comply with the new regulations. Alternatively ships can use LNG as fuel, but the global fleet of new LNG-powered vessels (delivered since 2006) around the world only stood at 31 at the end of 2018, according to VesselsValue, one of the global leaders in automated ship-valuation services. The total number of LNG-fueled vessels came to 538 at end-2018.

Last year saw the delivery of 14 new LNG-fueled ships and this year there are 29 scheduled deliveries that will take the global fleet to 60 new LNG-powered ships, VesselsValue reports. However, the delivery rate will slow down, according to the orders in place at the moment, with 22 ships scheduled for delivery in 2020 and another 17 in 2021.

Adrian Economakis, chief operations officer at London-based VesselsValue, explains to Kathimerini that although there is certainly an interest in these ships, “actual ordering has been limited due to lack of infrastructure allowing these LNG-powered vessels to refuel.”

Orders are expected to increase later, but this depends on the infrastructure catching up with demand for the projected refueling requirements. Economakis – in Greece to present a market analysis at an event by Japanese register ClassNK in Athens on Thursday – is optimistic the infrastructure will grow: “That is being developed around the world and we certainly expect to see more LNG-powered vessels ordered over the next few years,” he says.

He adds that his company expects to expand its Position List – the novel automated data system that tracks which vessels are available to pick up cargo anywhere in the world – beyond tankers into dry-bulk carriers by the end of the summer and into LNG carriers by the end of the year.

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