MARAD Releases LNG Bunkering Study

Harvey Gulf's STX-designed dual fuel OSV under construction at Gulf Coast Shipyard. Photo courtesy Gulf Coast Shipyard Group
Harvey Gulf’s STX-designed dual fuel OSV under construction at Gulf Coast Shipyard. The vessel is the first of six dual fuel OSV’s being built for Harvey Gulf International, and the first LNG-fueled ships to be built in the United States. The construction coincides with an LNG bunkering facility being built in Port Fourchon, LA, also the Nation’s first. Photo courtesy Gulf Coast Shipyard Group

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has released a comprehensive study examining the options for liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering and the necessary infrastructure, safety, regulatory, and training factors of each in supplying LNG to ships as a propulsion fuel in the maritime sector.

The study, which was carried out by classification society DNV GL, examines the pros and cons of four bunkering options (truck-to-ship transfer, shore facility-to-ship transfer, ship-to-ship transfer, and transfer of portable tanks) based on factors such as the number and type of vessels to be served, local availability of LNG, port size, congestion and level of activity. The study also makes recommendations to regulators, port operators, vessel operators and LNG infrastructure owners on ways to address the challenges associated with widespread use of LNG as a marine propulsion fuel and provides information to help them decide which method may be most appropriate for their needs.

MARAD notes that LNG is becoming an attractive fuel choice for many vessels to meet and exceed air quality standards set forth North American Emission Control Area (ECA), and the price of LNG is significantly lower than ECA-compliant fuel. However, because the use of LNG as a marine propulsion fuel is a relatively new concept in the U.S., there are significant safety and regulatory gaps. In addition, there are several challenges related to the development of a national infrastructure for LNG bunkering.

The report followed MARAD’s recently released “Total Fuel Cycle Report for Natural Gas”, which evaluated the total fuel cycle emissions for natural gas versus conventional marine fuels and confirmed that the use of natural gas as a propulsion fuel can in fact reduce air quality pollutants and reduce major greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel.

The full LNG Bunking Study report can be found at MARAD’s website HERE (pdf)