Interferry: Leave LNG Infrastructure to Market Forces

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday April 16, 2015

Interferry's Regulatory Affairs Director Johan Roos Monday said the European Union (EU) should leave Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure development to the market, World Maritime News reports.

"With any new fuel there is always a gradual transition period as supply and demand seek a balance," said Roos.

"If LNG prices prove to be at the levels promised by the fuel's proponents over the years, there is no reason to be overly concerned by the current lack of infrastructure," he added, explaining that LNG prices will be key to answering the question of whether or not the fuel is a sustainable option for ferry operators.

Roos said that EU Commission-led rules mandating the availability of LNG infrastructure at every EU port are "slightly misguided."

Instead, he said that the EU should focus efforts and investment support on individual shipowners looking to develop LNG-powered ships, suggesting the market would respond to demand by building infrastructure as necessary.

In addition, the EU could support bunker suppliers to invest in LNG provisions, including shore-side tanks, he said.

As regards the safety of LNG as a fuel for ferries, Roos said "there never were any real safety concerns as such."

He said that a "puzzling approach" to LNG tank location had been taken, whereby largely irrelevant accident statistics were given undue weight, which had hampered development of LNG-powered ferries.

No "Real Safety Concerns as Such"

"At the [International Maritime Organization] IMO, Interferry and others successfully argued that the very same safety provisions that have effectively safeguarded huge LNG tankers for decades should also be applied to LNG propulsion tanks," said Roos.

"We will now be able to build new LNG-powered ferries that will not have to refuel after each and every crossing."

Roos also commented that there has been a smooth start to the implementation of Emission Control Area (ECA) rules, but that a host of proposed future environmental and safety rules lack practicality.