More Clarity on LNG Bunkering Coming

LNG Bunkering

Published Sep 5, 2016 5:14 PM by Wendy Laursen

More guidance on LNG bunkering will be available to the industry next month. The Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) was established to promote safety and industry best practice in the use of gas as a marine fuel, and after consultation with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), it is about to publish an update to its global bunkering guidelines.

IACS has already published some guidelines, which will be incorporated into the SGMF ones. The SGMF guidelines will remain the de-facto reference now with the incorporation of the IACS document which only serves to augment the work already done by the group.  Nearly all of the IACS members including BV, LR, CCS, ABS, RINA, NKK and DNV GL are full members of SGMF.

In addition, the SGMF guidelines will include further detail including how to calculate the minimum distance for safety and security zones. This is particularly important in defining the logistics of simultaneous bunkering operations in a port and for determining what ship traffic can pass by a vessel undergoing bunkering operations.

Martial Claudepierre of Bureau Veritas has been committee chairman for both sets of guidelines. “Uptake of LNG bunkering is coming, albeit slower than some in the industry predicted,” he says. “Ship-to-ship bunkering is developing with vessels being delivered for Engie and Shell. A third one is under construction in The Netherlands, so by 2017, Europe will have three ocean-going vessels capable of LNG bunkering.”

Ocean-going vessels offer the dual function of bunkering as well as trading. Claudepierre says this is likely to only be temporary, and dedicated barges will be the most popular option in the future for ship-to-ship bunkering once the market increases.

While falling oil prices have reduced the financial incentives for the uptake of LNG as bunker fuel, he says the increasingly stringent regulations will make LNG the most straight forward solution.

The work on equipment standardization is on-going. There are still issues regarding details such as quick disconnect couplings and flexible hoses, says Claudepierre. “They will be resolved very quickly. We are already working with an ISO committee on all LNG transfer equipment for bunkering.”

The IGF code takes effect from 2017, and Claudepierre says this, along with the finalization of industry guidelines will make it “the year” of LNG bunkering.

SGMF released its first edition of LNG bunkering safety guidelines in February last year. The objective of the guidelines is to provide the bunkering industry with the best practices in order to ensure that gas- fuelled ships are re-fuelled with high levels of safety, integrity and reliability.

The first edition of LNG Bunkering – Safety Guidelines includes chapters on LNG hazards (leaks, cryogenic, LNG fire and explosion), safety systems (roles, people in charge, communications and emergency systems), bunkering procedures and specific safety guidance for ship-to-ship, shore-to-ship and truck-to-ship bunkering.

The working group for their development included the Swedish Maritime Authority, Shell, MOL Group, LR, DNV GL, Norwegian Maritime Authority, Alkane Marine and IAPH.