Gibson: One Quarter of Tankers on Order Will Use LNG Fuel

LNG-fueled VLCC orders grow
First LNG-fueled VLCC is being built for COSCO (Dalian)

Published Dec 13, 2021 5:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

As another sign of the shipping industry’s growing adoption of LNG and dual-fuel vessels, as the first dual-fuel VLCC prepares for its maiden voyage, tanker operators are increasingly ordering dual-fuel power plants for their new builds. Shipbroker Gibson in its latest weekly tanker market report calls LNG “The Shape of Things to Come,” based on the growth of orders.

“While LNG has long been the fuel of the future,” Gibson reports that its analysis shows that fully a quarter of the tanker new builds are adopting LNG for propulsion. Gibson’s alternative fuel ship database counts over 530 vessels ranging from tugs to bulkers on order with LNG and alternative fuel powerplants. They report that nearly five percent of the orders are specifically for VLCCs following on from the first it’s this kind entering service for COSCO Shipping Energy Transport Co. 

“Overall, the current LNG-fueled tanker newbuildings stands at 23 percent of the current total tanker orderbook,” reports Gibson. “So, it would seem that there is still some way to go before LNG fueled tankers become the dominant vessel type, but as a bunker fuel it is certainly being taken seriously.”


Gibson's review of the current tanker orderbook 


China’s technologically advanced first dual-fuel-VLCC will join several Aframax tankers that are dual-fuel tankers. According to the shipbroker’s analysis, there are two LNG-fueled Suezmax tankers on order and 41 Aframax/LR2s. There are also around 40 LNG-ready tankers under construction, “meaning as and when the market, charterer or owner decide to make the vessel fully LNG capable, the vessel can have the required machinery and equipment fitted,” says Gibson.

After completing structural construction, the first VLCC fueled with LNG went on sea trials in September 2021. Built at the Dalian Shipyard the 1,091-foot long vessel has a capacity of 318,000 tons while adopting numerous technical advancements to improve operating efficiency.  It uses LNG as its primary fuel supplemented by fuel oil.  It adopts a WINGD low-pressure dual-fuel main engine along with dual-fuel generators and boilers and a single-pipe design which the shipyard says improves safety and flexibility for the operations. The ship uses C-tanks, which have been common in other LNG vessels, and can operate 12,000 nm on LNG or 24,000 in dual-fuel mode. Daily gas consumption is around 60 tons.

COSCO ordered its first LNG VLCC in 2017 and that was followed by agreements in 2020 by Total to charter two LNG-powered VLCCs. The French company expects its vessel to also enter service in 2022.

The VLCCs follow the trends of an increasing number of orders for large, ocean-going vessels employing alternative fuels including LNG. DNV estimated that 12 percent of the global orderbook is for LNG-fueled vessels.