Finland’s Containerships remains committed to LNG bunkering strategy

Finland-based shipping company Containerships has said it is sticking with its LNG bunkering strategy as a means of addressing tightening emissions regulations.

The company has had four new ships capable of burning natural gas as fuel under construction in Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China since September 2017, it said in its 2017 annual report this week.

Production of the first vessel, the M/S Containerships Nord, began in December 2016, and all four vessels were in production by September 2017, it said.

The new short-sea vessels have a capacity of 1,400 TEU and will be operating in the Baltic and Nordic seas during 2018, Containerships said. The company will mostly be buying its LNG from Shell in Rotterdam.

The company says an LNG-fueled supply chain can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50% compared with road transportation, and by 25% compared with a traditional multimodal supply chain.

LNG bunkering is one way for shipowners to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s 0.5% sulfur emissions cap on marine fuels from 2020.

But after a year of strong interest in LNG from the shipping industry in 2017, confidence in it has been dented this year after the IMO adopted its initial strategy on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in April.

The plan envisages the shipping industry cutting its total GHG emissions by 50% from 2008’s levels by 2050 — a target unlikely to be met by a gas-fueled global fleet.

Shipping companies will now need to start bringing on ships with sharply reduced, or even zero, GHG emissions from the 2030s onwards, and early adopters of LNG bunkering will need to consider whether to continue ordering new gas fueled ships between now and then.

France’s CMA CGM, a much larger container line, is in the same position after announcing an order of four new LNG fueled vessels in November. Japan’s Nissan Corporation — a key customer of Containerships — has welcomed its LNG strategy. Nissan ships more than 3,500 20-foot containers on Containerships vessels each year.

Containerships also forms part of the DOOR2LNG project with terminal operators RST in Rotterdam, PD Ports in Teesport, MLT in Helsinki, and Nordic Hamburg – the technical ship management partner in the construction of new LNG vessels.

The initiative has received Eur17 million ($20.4 million) funding from the EU Connecting Europe Facility program.

But the company said concentrating only on emissions generated during the sea leg alone was not enough from the sustainability perspective.

“Containerships will be the first company in Europe to offer a fully LNG-enabled supply chain comprising trucks, vessels, and refueling stations with a 2-3 years first move advantage, ” it said.

By the end of 2017, the company had 44 LNG or LNG dual fuel trucks in operations, mostly in the UK, where the LNG infrastructure is well developed. This number will increase to 200 by 2020, it said.

Source: Platts

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