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Friday, April 30, 2021 

According to participants in a series of workshops arranged by the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF), LNG offers the only investable, available option for shipowners looking for low-carbon fuels today.

The message is reinforced by a robust new lifecycle analysis study, indicating clear steps towards further carbon reductions across a vessel’s life. The online workshops tackled issues ranging from future-proofing vessels to accelerating biofuel uptake, and highlighted the need for clear, positive and factual communication to convey the role that LNG can play in reducing shipping’s emissions.

Participants welcomed Sphera’s second Life Cycle GHG Emission Study on the Use of LNG as Marine Fuel, which based its findings on comprehensive first-hand data collection from engines in service and the latest upstream emissions information, unlike outdated analysis relied upon in many other reports.

“The updated lifecycle analysis – and a forthcoming study of alternative fuels including ammonia and hydrogen – ensure that the rationale for using LNG becomes even more coherent, consistent and credible,” said Mark Bell, General Manager, SGMF. “A week of affirmative, convergent discussions show that the gas fuel community is on the right path. Now we need to make sure we sing from the same hymn sheet.”

Fossil LNG alone will not enable shipowners to meet IMO targets in one step. Participants discussed the medium-term options that will allow vessel owners that invest in LNG propulsion now to reach zero emissions. These include using net-zero carbon bio- or synthetic- methane as drop-in fuels as they become available, and later perhaps ammonia made from hydrogen. Starting the journey of reduced emissions with the next generation of vessels is much better for the planet than waiting several years for net-zero carbon fuels – and in some cases the engine and fuel handling technology needed to use them - to become available.

The pricing of LNG could also benefit from clearer communication, participants agreed. With many shipowners focused on capital expenditure, the lifetime savings from using LNG can be lost. Combined with a stepwise approach to reducing emissions, these operational cost savings present a compelling argument that LNG, for many vessels, is a first step towards decarbonisation.

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