Methane Slip From LNG Bunkers May be Bigger Than Expected: Report

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday January 30, 2024

Methane emissions from LNG-fuelled ships may be higher than assumed by regulators, according to new research.

The International Council on Clean Transportation has prepared a new report analysing methane emissions from LNG-fuelled ships in Europe and Australia, it said in a statement on its website.

The report follows two years of data-gathering using drones, helicopters and onboard sensors to determine methane levels in ships' exhaust.

The report found methane slip in the plumes of 18 ships with LPDF 4-stroke engines at 6.4% on average, compared to the 3.1% assumed in EU regulations and 3.5% assumed by the IMO.

"Regulators need to use the best available data to develop effective climate policies," Bryan Comer, the report's lead author, said in the statement.

"If methane slip assumptions remain too low, shipowners will be able to use LNG in high-methane-slip engines longer, effectively getting an unfair advantage over lower-emitting fuels and engines.

"This is contrary to the goals of rapidly decarbonizing the shipping sector to align with the Paris Agreement and counterproductive to reducing global methane emissions this decade, as called for in the Global Methane Pledge."

The use of fossil LNG as a bunker fuel remains a contentious issue, with opponents characterising it as just another fossil fuel that distracts from better means of decarbonising shipping, while supporters see it as an early stage towards using lower-carbon bio- or synthetic LNG in future.