K Line LNG tanker japan

Q&A With Lloyd’s Register – Things are No Longer “Business-as-Usual”

Rob Almeida
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December 9, 2011

lloyd's registerI met up with Ginger Garte and Jim Fernie from Lloyd’s Register this past week at the International Workboat Show to get their take on the evolution of sustainable shipping practices from an environmental standpoint.

RA:  Ginger, can you give me an overview of what’s going on in the world of compliance as it’s related to the push for cleaner and more efficient ships?

GG: The world is getting more complicated – and regulatory compliance is a significant challenge. New regulations, regional differences and higher fuel bills have created a new paradigm.  Shipowners are looking for solutions to high ol prices and the need to reduce environmental impact.

RA:  Who has been pushing the ball forward on this on a global scale, or promoting this new “look”?

GG:  The IMO.  The International Maritime Organization is setting regulations because they want to make sure that it’s a logical, international program rather than one that is addressed on local levels, which can be a little bit more confusing and complicated.  That doesn’t mean that local states can’t decide to make things more stringent. They have been doing a very good job and they have some very difficult issues to handle, maintaining a level playing field and fair treatment for all.

Energy efficiency is very important and it’s a good focus because it not only makes companies more sustainable in the future, it also makes them economically sustainable in the short term.  It allows them to stay in business, save a lot of money and reduce their impact on the environment.

It’s not business-as-usual.

We’re not going to operate the same way we did five years ago, and it’s changing very quickly.  You have to be able to look five or 10 years down the road and say, ‘ok, do I want to develop and modify my fleet so that it’s competitive in five years, or do I want to do the bare minimum, making my fleet obsolete very soon because it won’t be able to compete with the more efficient vessels or comply with the demands of society’?”

RA: Or they will be taxed incredibly heavily.

GG: Possibly.

RA:  But we’re still in the gigaton range when it comes to the amount of CO2 emitted by the global shipping industry.

GG:  Yes, but you need to look at what your trade transport options are.  Merchant shipping comes out on top, of course, because it moves 90% of world trade by volume. In actuality, it emits a very low CO2 volume per ton-kilometre, which is a more accurate accounting of relative contributions to global emissions.  What shipping companies need to consider is: “is there a way to streamline my operations to make them more fuel efficient”?

If they are able to identify that and make appropriate changes, they will have a lot to be proud of.

RA: I understand you came from the cruise line industry over to Lloyd’s Register fairly recently.  One of the big topics in the commercial maritime industry is the use of LNG … are cruise lines looking at using LNG as a fuel?

GG: Nothing is off the table for anybody these days.  It’s of course very daunting to look at the infrastructure and some of the associated challenges of LNG propulsion and, also, what do your stakeholders really think about LNG on cruise ships?  So they need to look at that and balance it.  I think they are all looking at different options and they are willing to try a lot of different methods to be compliant.

K Line LNG tanker japan
LNGC Celestine River, Image courtesy K Line LNG

RA:  You have ferries that carry a couple hundred cars full of gasoline, and it seems ridiculous that people are afraid of having LNG on board considering it’s far less volatile than gasoline.  Where did this misconception come from and how do we get past this?

JF: I wish I could give you a pithy response, but the truth is that incidents in the past have allowed people with little knowledge of the industry to show pictures or make simple statements to the detriment of the industry.  In one case in the ‘40s, an LNG tank  in Cleveland collapsed due to the poor cryogenic strength of the steel.  The LNG ran into the sewers and the vapors rose into the homes.  Several fires ensued, killing many families and leaving the area looking like it had been bombed.  That couldn’t happen today because the sewer systems are designed differently and the metallurgy of the materials used in LNG tanks allows it to withstand the cryogenic temperatures it may be exposed to.

Right after 9-11, an enterprising reporter determined that the loaded LNG ship in Boston held the same amount of energy that was released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.  The math was correct, but the time it would take to release of the energy — that was never mentioned — would be about a nanosecond for the bomb and maybe a month for the ship.  But, it was a quick answer and it stuck.

Despite the nay-sayers, the LNG industry will continue to use the best science and technical engineering for construction, the best risk-analysis tools for operation and the best training available.  The dedicated men and women that build and operate LNG facilities of all sorts are providing this country with a cleaner and more efficient energy [than heavy fuel oils].

It’s pretty hard to be against that.

LNG is an exciting fuel with great potential in certain applications.  It’s not necessarily the fuel of the future, but it’s certainly a fuel of the future.


Ginger Garte

Ginger Garte, Environmental Business Development Manager – Lloyd’s Register North America, Inc.

Ginger has been active in the marine industry for over 18 years.  She obtained her Geology degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and in 1994 was selected to serve as a U.S. Commissioned Officer with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Upon completion of Officer Training School, Ginger served for five years onboard NOAA’s research vessels and at shore side laboratories. She worked as superintendent for seven years at Carnival Cruise Line’s in the Environmental Health and Safety Department and as the senior analyst for five years at Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, within the Environmental Stewardship Department.  Now at Lloyds Register, North America, Inc., Ginger is primarily responsible for meeting clients’ environmental needs throughout the industry.

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