Pictured: Bit Viking courtesy GL

The world’s first LNG-fueled product tanker, the “Bit Viking”, is now officially in service according to class society Germanischer Lloyd (GL).  The 25,000 dwt product tanker underwent an LNG main machinery conversion supervised by GL.  The vessel is now also the largest commercial vessel, not including an LNG tanker, to use LNG as fuel.

Delivered in 2007, the China-built “Bit Viking” is equipped with double engine rooms, propellers, steering gears, rudders and control systems. Having previously been powered by two 6-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 46 engines running on heavy fuel oil, the conversion has changed these to 6-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines operating on LNG, supplied by two 500 cubic meter LNG storage tanks on the fore deck.

During the conversion the vessel was fitted with the new equipment necessary for the LNG operation under critical supervision from GL experts ensuring the converted vessel was safely constructed, using the right type of materials and right type of welding.

The technical challenge in the conversion process was immense, says Ronnie-Torsten Westerman, Business Development Manager at GL. As a world first, the project required special attention ensure compliance with relevant class rules and how the flag administration would understand and accept the risk analysis. “Special attention was given to the bunkering process and how it should be performed, since this is a critical operation and requires special expertise and equipment,” said Westerman.

Since re-entering service after her conversion on October 25, the “Bit Viking” has already observed considerable environmental benefits including greenhouse gases reduced by 20% to 25%, sulphur output cut entirely, NOx gases cut by 90% and particulate emissions reduced by 99%. While an official emissions measurement has been conducted, the final results are not available yet but “these figures are a strong indicator of the outcome”, says Ronnie-Torsten Westerman.

The Bit Viking is trading along the entire length of the coast of Norway, from Oslo to Kirkenes, on behalf of oil major Statoil.

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