LNG Bunkers as a Solution for Addressing Shipping's GHGs is a Myth: Ian Adams

Wednesday November 2, 2016

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkers are not a solution for reducing shipping's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and could actually be worse for the environment than burning heavy fuel oil, industry veteran Ian Adams said in a statement today.

Adams, who is the former CEO of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) and now head of the Association of Bulk Terminal Operators, also singled out a recent Reuters interview with Angus Campbell, corporate director of energy projects at Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Bernhard Schulte), which suggests that the use of LNG as a marine fuel can reduce the industry's CO2 emissions by 75 percent.

"Whilst it is well documented that LNG is an excellent solution for reducing SOx and NOx emissions, I am dismayed to see it being promoted as a solution for reducing GHGs," Adams said.

"It is a complete falsehood to suggest, as Reuters has, that 'global efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions will be key for the adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel."

Adams explains that, with the energy content of LNG a little more than half that of fuel oil, nearly twice the amount of LNG compared to fuel oil must be burned to extract the same amount of energy, and while the burning LNG will result in lower CO2 emissions, this decrease will not be large.

Further, Adams says that, because LNG is principally methane and considered to be 25 times more harmful than CO2 form a GHG perspective, a 4 percent slip through the supply chain would be enough to equal the CO2 emissions from the industry's current HFO consumption.

"If we, rather generously, accept that burning LNG will reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent over the current level it would require less than 1 percent slip for there to be no gain from a GHG perspective.

"Taken over the entire supply chain, 1 percent is not an unrealistic slip. Unfortunately, the LNG myth has progressed unchecked with very few challenging those lobbying for a wider take up of LNG."

This is not the first time LNG's ability to address GHG emissions has been criticized, and Adam's comments echo those made to Ship & Bunker earlier this year by Dr. Michael Traut, Research Associate at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester.

In July he told Ship & Bunker, that while switching to LNG bunkers may solve the shorter term problem of reducing certain ship emissions such as SOx, they will not address the wider challenge of reducing the sector's GHGs.

Debate over the merits of switching to LNG bunkers is widely expected to increase following last week's decision by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at its 70th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70) to adopt a global sulfur cap on marine fuel of 0.50 percent from 2020.