The basis for the discussion has been set by James Kyritsis (Drewry), giving the participants an outlook on the global LNG market and analyzing the impact of its dynamics on Europe and the Baltic region. Key takeaways pertaining to the current market situation and future forecasts included the expectation for US LNG exports to increase significantly, based on the country’s liquefaction capacity to exceed 100 million tonnes by 2023, small LNG carriers and bunkering vessels continuing to attract investment and the low price arbitrage between European and Asian markets, leading to US exports being diverted to Europe.

Infrastructure development and its importance for establishing LNG as marine fuel has been discussed during two presentations, delivered by Gunnar Helmen (Gasum) and Antonio Illescas (Swedegas). According to the findings of the former of the two gentlemen, Northwestern Europe is the leading region when it comes to LNG infrastructure supporting a sustainable, maritime business. Patience has been recommended though, since time is needed to establish a supply chain. It is important to underscore, that LNG is not a “dead-end” solution. The infrastructure can be utilized when the industry moves towards its next evolutionary step – LBG and synthetic methane.

Experience reports from a group of ship operator were one of the highlights of the event. Christian Hoepfner (Wessels Marine) offered some practical insights, sharing the experiences his company gathered while retrofitting one of its vessels, the Wes Amelie, for LNG usage. The project was a success, proving that retrofitting can be an important step towards maritime energy transition. Increasing LNG bunkering availability in the Baltic region, translating into supply safety, is another key aspect helping operators switch to LNG , as highlighted in a presentation by Rasmus Hellman (NEOT). 

Sjaak Klap (Spliethoff), while praising overall benefits of LNG and stating that it is the only real option available today, that enables significant reduction of emissions, mentioned that his company will stick to oil throughout 2020. Scrubbers, MGO and LSFO will be used, with some concerns regarding the properties of the latter arising. Dual Fuel LNG solutions are also being considered but the time has been judged as too early for a fleet-wide switch to LNG, with high additional CAPEX and overall insufficient LNG supply security cited as reasons.

Providers of tech solutions also had their five minutes during this year’s edition of the LNG Conference. Carl Dahlberg (MAN Cryo) talked about marine fuel gas systems yesterday, today and tomorrow, while Thierry Clément (GTT) showcased his company’s adaptive membrane solutions for LNG carriers, tailor made for specific vessels based on their type and size. The last word belonged to Jaakko Lappi (Deltamarin), analyzing the feasibility of LNG retrofits. With LNG being today a solution chosen by ship operators on a daily basis, retrofits become increasingly popular, in many cases allowing for decent payback times. Some challenges need to be take into account though, one of them being the extra space required for fitting a LNG tank onboard.

The event concluded with a trip to Swedegas’ LNG bunkering facilities, located in the Port of Gothenburg. Participants had the rare chance to visit the truck unloading station and the distribution station at the jetties.

Source and more information: Actia Forum