TOTE Granted ECA Exemption During LNG Conversion

Wednesday August 8, 2012

Roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) cargo ship operator Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), who operate a service between Tacoma, Washington and Alaska, has said it has received a conditional permit exempting it from North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) fuel sulfur level requirements while it converts its two ORCA-class vessels to use Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as their primary fuel source.

TOTE President John Parrott told Ship & Bunker the conversion to LNG makes sense not only in terms of regulatory compliance, but also in terms of environmental impact and cost.

"LNG is the future of coast wide shipping," he said.

Since August 1, 2012 all ships operating within the ECA, which extends 200 nautical miles off the U.S. and Canada coastline, must use a marine fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 1.00% by weight.

Aggressive but Achievable

Parrott said TOTE are working with engine manufacturer MAN SE on the specifics of the duel-fuel conversion, which will see its 2 ORCA-class vessels capable of using either LNG or, if required, ECA compliant diesel fuel.

The waiver has been granted until September 2016, meaning the conversion schedule is "aggressive but achievable" thanks in part to the fact its vessels and existing maintenance procedures mean the work can be carried out at sea resulting in no interruption to their service schedule.

As their vessels spend their entire time operating within the ECA, and the fact that even stricter sulfur levels will be enforced in 2015, Parrot said making the conversion now means they won't have to worry about future regulatory compliance as their vessels should exceed required levels for their over 25 year remaining service life.

Once the conversion is complete, TOTE say the vessels will exceed the sulfur reduction goals of the ECA by 95%, and achieve "significant emissions reductions" in particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxide (NOX), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

"When the Orca class vessels were delivered in 2003, they were purpose-built to serve the Alaska market and exceeded all regulatory and environmental standards. Post LNG conversion, the Orca vessels will again set a new standard for environmental responsibility," said Parrott.

A shore side LNG infrastructure will accompany the project, which TOTE say may help other transportation industries in Puget Sound follow TOTE in converting to LNG.

"This could result in a significant increase in air quality throughout the Puget Sound region," TOTE said.