Obama Administration "Embracing" LNG Bunkers

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Wednesday October 30, 2013

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) holds enormous potential as a marine fuel for U.S. vessels for both economic and environmental reasons, William P. Doyle, a commissioner of the U.S. Federal Maritime Administration (FMA), told an audience at the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL)'s Sino-American Logistics Conference Tuesday.

"In the United States, the Obama Administration is embracing the concept of LNG as a marine fuel, and the maritime industry is in the process of developing, converting and constructing LNG powered vessels," he said.

Doyle said natural gas in the U.S. is at least 70 percent less expensive than heavy fuel oil (HFO) and 85 percent less expensive than distillates, and the price advantage is projected to continue or even increase through 2035.

"This has opened up an opportunity for significant annual fuel cost savings when converting marine vessels that use petroleum fuel to natural gas operation," he said.

Doyle said about 70 percent of domestic shipping in the U.S. uses distillates, while 30 percent uses HFO, in contrast to international shipping, which uses 90 percent HFO.

He said the U.S. government is funding a demonstration project repowering an ocean-going ship to use LNG and funding research on LNG bunkering.

Citing the historical use of LNG fuel by LNG carriers, as well as efforts in the U.S., China and Europe to encourage the use of the fuel, Doyle said the LNG sector "is blossoming before our eyes and I am sure that there are so many more projects on the horizon."

The first U.S. LNG bunkering facility, being built by Harvey Gulf International Marine (Harvey Gulf), is scheduled to start operations in Louisiana in February of 2014.