Veka-Group has developed three new LNG tankers, which can also be used as bunker ships. Two tankers are destined for short sea trips and/or coastal services. The third tanker, a LNG inland waterway bunker ship, is the first of its type in the world. The tanker sails almost completely on the ‘boil off’ of the load and is 100% emission-free. After the introduction of the first bi-fuel tanker in the world, the “Pioneer Knutsen”, this is again a proof of Veka-Group’s innovative power.
With the “Pioneer Knutsen”, Bijlsma Shipyard, member of the Veka-Group, was years ahead of her time. ‘It was the first bi-fuel LNG tanker ever built’, says managing director Arend Bijlsma. ‘Especially for this project we have developed new technology for the storage of LNG and for the use of LNG as fuel for the propulsion engines. The combination of these two techniques made it possible to sail the tanker for a significant part on the ‘boil off’ (the gas that is released by keeping the load on the correct temperature). The engine switches to diesel in case of insufficient ‘boil off’ availability, which explains the term bi-fuel.’ Thanks to these innovations applied when building the “Pioneer Knutsen”, the design received the ‘Clean Marine Award ’ from the European Commission.
Use of ‘boil off’ clean and cost-efficient
‘LNG is a natural gas made liquid by drying, cleaning and cooling it down to -164 ºC’, explains Bijlsma. ‘The LNG stays liquid in special thermally insulated storage tanks. During transport a very small part of the load is released as gas. Before we found a way to use that gas as fuel for the propulsion engine, it was simply flared. The application of the gas as fuel is cost efficient and contributes to the environment.’
Bijlsma expects that the use of LNG by ships for coastal and inland shipping will increase rapidly. ‘Using LNG instead of gas oil gives already now a saving of roughly 25% on your fuel costs. Experts believe that the price of gas oil will reach a level of about € 1.000 per ton in the near future whereas the price of LNG will not or hardly increase. From a financial point of view the use of LNG will be increasingly more attractive. In addition to this the rules with respect to the environmental requirements are becoming stricter in more and more countries. For instance in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia until some years ago it was allowed to use high sulphuric heavy crude. Now only low sulphuric crude is allowed. In the long term the environmental requirements will be tightened worldwide. It is expected that then you will have to use gas oil again or install a scrubber to remove sulfur and hydrates from the exhaust fumes. If you want to sail really clean and cost efficient, LNG is the only answer.’
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