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New study confirms LNG reduces shipping emissions by up to 23%

An update to the research study ‘Lifecycle GHG Emission Study on the use of LNG as Marine Fuel’ commissioned by SGMF (Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel) and SEA-LNG in 2018/2019 has confirmed that greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of up to 23% are achievable from LNG as a marine fuel, compared with current oil-based marine fuels over the entire life-cycle from Well-to-Wake (WtW).

The second study, commissioned by SGMF and SEA-LNG with Sphera, was conducted according to ISO standards and reviewed again by a panel of independent academic experts. It found that, in addition to the considerable air quality benefits it delivers, LNG can “beyond question” contribute significantly to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) GHG reduction targets.

It concludes WtW emissions reduction benefits are between 14% and 23% for 2-stroke slow-speed engines, and between 6% and 14% for 4-stroke medium-speed engines. In addition, the study forecasts that, by 2030, 2-stroke engines using LNG will offer WtW GHG benefits of up to 24%, 4-stroke engines of up to 22%, as technological improvements will have reduced methane slip to minimal levels.

The comprehensive report uses the latest primary data to assess all major types of marine engines and global sources of supply with quality data provided by original equipment manufacturers including Caterpillar MaK, Caterpillar Solar Turbines, GE, MAN Energy Solutions, Rolls Royce (MTU), Wärtsilä, and Winterthur Gas & Diesel, as well as from ExxonMobil, Shell, and Total on the supply side. Methane emissions from the supply chains as well as methane released during the onboard combustion process have been included in the analysis.

Taking into account the current global shipping fleet, broken down by engine technology and corresponding fuel, the study finds that total GHG emissions could be reduced by ~15 % simply by switching from oil-based marine fuels to LNG. It also underlines again that the use of LNG as a marine fuel has significant air quality benefits, with local emissions, such as SOx, NOx and particulate matter, all close to zero.

“It is important the industry has the best information to make often complex choices between fuels,” said Samir Bailouni, Chairman, Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF). “Today, the clear choice for an immediate and significant reduction in emissions is LNG, which is widely available and fully compliant with existing regulations. This is reflected in the rapidly increasing adoption of LNG in the deep-sea container, bulk and tanker sectors, a trend we expect to accelerate even as the more challenging horizon fuels are brought safely and sustainably into the mix.”

“The Sphera study ensures that the industry has access to comprehensive research that is fully up to date. It is clear that LNG plays an important role in decarbonization today with benefits available now,” commented SEA-LNG Chairman Peter Keller. “LNG remains the clear starting point for a carbon-neutral future for shipping, especially as the pathway forward includes bio and synthetic products. Waiting is not an option. The industry must act now to capture the benefits that are clearly there for the taking by using LNG.”

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